2018 Mini Countryman Hybrid: Update for March 2018
by Mark Takahashi, Senior Writer
Where Did We Drive It?
On the surface, our long-term 2018 Mini Countryman S E Hybrid is matching expectations set by the EPA estimates. But we’re confident we can do better. So far we’ve used the Mini in a manner that isn’t advantageous to a plug-in hybrid, and it would do better as a city car with short commutes and frequent and consistent charges.
In March, Travis drove it to Sacramento and back with no charging. The rest of the time it was commuting with other editors over distances just past the projected EV range.
As one of the few editors on staff within the EPA-rated 12 miles of electric range, I would likely have better results than colleagues with much longer commutes. With any luck, we’ll be able to make this happen with me behind the wheel for an extended period. Stay tuned.
On a side note, we produced a video review of the Countryman S E on our YouTube channel. Check it out here.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
In March we added 1,537 miles to the Countryman Hybrid’s odometer and fed it 55.6 gallons of gas. That figures to 27.6 mpg, which is a bit better than the EPA estimate.
Average lifetime mpg: 27.1
EPA mpg rating: 27 combined
Average electric range: 13.3 miles
Best electric range: 21.4 miles
EPA electric range rating: 12 miles
Current odometer: 3,832 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"There shouldn’t be range anxiety with a plug-in hybrid like our S E Countryman, but there is, and it’s well after you run out of EV miles. The Countryman’s fuel tank is so small that it would be hilarious if it weren’t so detrimental to road trips. After the initial 12 miles of EV range has run out, the Countryman only has 9.5 gallons of fuel left.
"The small tank results from accommodating the electric drivetrain and batteries, and it essentially restricts you to 200-mile tanks on the open road. I was able to stretch it to about 260 miles on a recent road trip, but that’s almost the limit. I’d be surprised to see a 300-mile tank even once over our year with the Mini. This thing just makes no sense for a road trip." — Travis Langness, staff writer
"Beyond compliance (and people who want to try to get a pass for the HOV lane), the electric system is almost useless for me on my daily commute. I commute 17 miles, and I think I only got 13 out of the fully charged battery when I took it home. I never plugged it in again because there really did not seem to be any point. You really have to love Mini’s styling, in general, to plunk down this kind of change for the vehicle. To me, it feels a lot like driving around in a jukebox." — Abigail Bassett, senior director, video and social media
"The Mini EV has the best of intentions. But you just seem to give up a lot for 11 miles of EV range. If they wanted to make an EV for the sake of making one, well, mission accomplished. With a few full EVs that have decent range — Bolt, Leaf, Model 3 — the Mini’s goals already seem antiquated. I also wish it would start in EV mode versus switching to it every time you start the car. And unless there’s a mode to switch to, the regenerative braking also feels nonexistent. All of that together makes it seem like the electric aspect is an afterthought." — Rich Kuras, creative video strategist
"For all the shade I’ve been throwing at this Mini, it’s pretty good on the highway. There always seems to be a bit of extra EV juice in reserve to help with passing maneuvers and it’s quiet on the inside. The ride quality is good, too, even over broken surfaces. It’s too bad the seats are so heavily bolstered and the road trip range is so abysmal." — Travis Langness
"Even though it is a bigger Mini (oxymoron), it doesn’t drive bigger. The Mini feels like a GTI with a good amount of pep, and it’s great for darting through freeway traffic. Nothing feels cheap in the Countryman. The car is sturdy and has a lot of personality and a cool stylized interior. The ambient light reminds me of being on a Virgin flight and it makes me want to play trip hop.
"I do love the seating position. It’s like an aggressive bus driver. You’re seated nicely perched, but the crank on the seat adjust makes it seem like I’m changing a tire. And on a quick trip to Orange County, seating didn’t get uncomfortable. But the overall ride seems too firm for something that’s labeled as a crossover. It absorbs potholes the same way glass windows absorb a baseball. Each divot in the road that you hit stops a conversation, and your passengers wonder if something broke on the car. I’m half-expecting to see debris in my rearview mirror every time I hit some road holes. And L.A. roads and freeways are pretty damn bad, so that is constant. Compound that with tight suspension and overall zippiness, and you’re going to get road-weary, car-sick passengers." — Rich Kuras
"At first, the Countryman’s seats felt like they’d be excellent on a long trip. I drove the Mini around town for a few days and had no problems, but after 1,000 miles behind the wheel, I couldn’t stand them any longer. The bolstering on the seat back is too thick and dense to leave me comfortable after 16 hours on the road. Maybe I’m just too wide, but these are definitely not the seats for me." — Travis Langness
"The nonadjustable seat-belt height on the driver’s door is a real pet peeve for me in this Mini. With my preferred seating position, the seat belt is always rubbing on my neck, leaving those little lines on a long road trip. Next time I take the Mini out for an extended journey, I’m going to spring for one of those padded seat-belt wrappers." — Travis Langness
"I wonder how long Mini is going to keep it up with these tiny circular mirrors. I get the style statement, but they just don’t give you much of a sense of what’s going on behind you. I say they’ve committed a bit too long." — Travis Langness
"For some reason, the Sirius system in the car consistently cut out for five minutes at a time under all kinds of conditions: sunny, rainy, clear and overcast. And, no, I was not under an overpass or near tall buildings. I’ve never had that problem in other test cars." — Abigail Bassett
"I also hate that they have inverted the wheel from the iDrive system so that in my mind it works backward. I spent almost a week in the thing and still couldn’t get it right." — Abigail Bassett