MINI previews plug-in hybrid Countryman

The Countryman will be able to drive on electricity alone at up to 77 mph.

Confirming an earlier rumor, MINI has announced plans to introduce a plug-in hybrid version of the next-generation Countryman.

Technical details haven't been published yet, but we know that the gasoline-electric Countryman will offer at least three driving modes called Auto e-Drive, Max e-Drive, and Save Battery, respectively. Max e-Drive will allow the Countryman to drive on electricity alone at speeds of up to 77 mph, though likely at the cost of performance in order to save electricity.

Recent rumors claim the drivetrain will be made up of MINI's ubiquitous turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine and a compact, 88-horsepower electric motor mounted over the rear axle. The plug-in Countryman will be capable of hitting 62 mph from a stop in about 6.5 seconds; clearly, MINI is gunning for the Volkswagen Golf GTE, another plug-in hybrid model that puts an unabashed emphasis on fun. The BMW-owned company points out the electric drivetrain's components are mounted as low as possible in order to lower the center of gravity.

The teaser images also give us a better idea of what the next-gen Countryman will look like. It's clear that MINI asked its designers for an evolutionary look, though the crossover will be taller than the current model and longer than the new Clubman, the biggest member of the company's lineup.

The next-gen MINI Countryman will make its official debut before the end of the year, and it will go on sale early next year as a 2018 model. The gas-electric model will be joined by non-hybrid variants powered by three- and four-cylinder engines, and a John Cooper Works-badged model will round out the lineup a few years into the production run.

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