Hallmark MINI driving fun combined with zero tailpipe emissions will become reality next year with the introduction of the first MINI plug-in hybrid model, featuring a combustion engine and an electric motor.
Head of MINI brand management Sebastian Mackensen explained the reasons behind the development of the model: "With this model we want to convince MINI customers of the benefits of hybrid drive, and impress everyone who already has hybrid driving experience with MINI’s unique go-kart driving feel."
And this is the reason why the first MINI plug-in hybrid model is not solely focused on efficiency, but uncompromising in pursuit of driving fun.
It still looks like a MINI, and you really wouldn't know it was a hybrid until you discover the charging socket for the high-voltage battery discreetly integrated in the left Side Scuttle. And even in the cockpit it looks pretty much the same as ever, except for the start/stop button in the centre of the dashboard glowing yellow instead of red.
And then the changes really kick in because, although this car starts with a press of the button, it starts in complete silence because it always starts in electric mode, the rpm counter in the instrument cluster on the steering column replaced with a power display. This needs to be kept a close eye on for the first few miles as the driver will need to know just how much power is in the electric motor’s reserves before the combustion engine fires up - and that happens when the car itself decides, depending upon on the vehicle’s speed and the intensity with which the driver operates the accelerator pedal.
And this new driving experience, according to Head of MINI series management Peter Wolf, promises a lot of driving fun, with the electric motor’s entire torque allowing for catapult-like acceleration, right up to motorway-type speeds. The high-voltage battery under the rear seats in AUTO eDRIVE standard mode allows speeds of up to 50 mph, whilst in MAX eDRIVE mode speeds of up to 78 mph are possible.
With the combined output of both electric and engine drives, the first MINI hybrid vehicle demonstrates unparalleled acceleration performance when compared with its combustion-only siblings; and the comparison with a go-kart arrives.
But MINI’s go-kart driving characteristics consists of more than just fast acceleration, handling brilliantly when taking bends on the most exciting, twisting roads, thanks to the eDrive components being positioned very low down at the rear, and thereby lowering the car’s centre of gravity. Add in the fact that the weight is evenly balanced between the front and rear axle, and a higher level of legendary MINI agility is achieved.
With the Hybrid concept, the electric motor transmits its power to the rear wheels, while the combustion transmits to the front wheels, with the intelligent energy management linked to the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). This means that traction and drive stability are optimised via the drive system because, as Mr Wolf explains: "As soon as there is any risk of drive slip, the second drive unit is activated to provide additional traction when starting off or ensuring a high level of steering precision when cornering."
Intelligent energy management also allows a further opportunity for both power sources to work together effectively, with a third mode - SAVE BATTERY - activated via the eDrive toggle switch, where the combustion engine can, while motorway driving is ongoing, power the car while the high voltage battery retains charge at a constant level or increases charge via a generator. Extended driving in SAVE BATTERY mode enables enough power generation for purely electric driving later.
The new MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4, MINI's first ever plug-in hybrid model, features high-quality BMW Group eDrive components developed specifically for MINI Countryman, a 3-cylinder 224 hp petrol engine and electric motor capable of 0-62mph in just 6.9 seconds, CO2 emissions of 49 g/km and average fuel consumption of 134.5mpg.
And will be available in February 2017, although orders are now being taken. Contact one of our Customer Service Representatives to see what great offers are available from Nationwide Vehicle Contracts when it comes to the MINI Countryman.