By Asian Journal Auto Editor

2018 MINI COUNTRYMAN SE HYBRID PIC 1For 2018, the Four – door Mini Countryman arrives as a hybrid-engined version called the SE; powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder gas engine, an electric motor and a 7.6 kwh rechargeable lithium-ion battery, The SE delivers an electric-only driving range of up to 19 kilometres. There are a few unique touches that make the SE Countryman stand out. Neon yellow markings and accents are found inside and outside of the vehicle to denote it being an electric Mini.

The 1.5 litter gasoline engine can deliver 134 horsepower and 162 lb.ft. of torque at low as 1,250 rpm. The electric motor powers the rear wheels and produces an additional 87 horsepower and 122 lb.ft. with instant torque. Between the gas engine and electric motor, the Countryman Cooper SE All 4 has a very creditable combined 221 horsepower and 284 lb.ft. of torque. Transmission is via a six-speed automatic, driving the front wheels with sport and manual modes available. The rear wheels are driven by the electric motors, so there is four-wheel drive depending on the drive mode chosen. The battery is charged via a driver-side fender charge port and can be charged in 2.5 hours using a 220-volt outlet. Regenerative braking also add to top up the battery when applied.

2018-mini-cooper-s-e-countryman-all4-plug-in-hybrid PIC 2The Countryman’s cabin is reassuringly Mini themed. The big round center instrument is still there, with a cool color changing bezel around it. Going through the cabin, overall, materials look and feel better. The design is a tad more conservative than older models. It’s actually more refined and grown up. Fit and finish is even better. Inside, there’s a new EV mode selector in the center console where the other toggle switches are. The infotainment system also offers additional screens that are used for monitoring the hybrid system in the SE Countryman. Interior wise, the Countryman’s larger dimensions make for a roomy cabin with excellent occupant space. The cabin is also far brighter and airy than previous Countryman generations. There is comfortable headroom and legroom for five A taller rear seat; that sit over the lithium battery, so cargo capacity drops by 45 litres with the seats up and by 115 (to 1,275 litres) with the 40/20/40 split seats folded.

The Mini arrives with a slew of options that really can add to the base price. Different packages offer such niceties as: Panorama sunroof, Heated Front Seats,  LED lighting,   Wireless Charging with Extended Bluetooth and USB Wired Package, 8.8″ Touch Screen, and various interior and exterior dress up packages. The Mini Connected XL package is a cool system that allows for full customization of destination sets ups and also supports Google and Apple maps. Factoring in real-time traffic information, the system can check for parking spots as you near your destination and your Mini in parking lots by connecting to a smart phone app.

On the road, the SE’s engine and electric motor produce peak torque at a very low rpm, and some punchy acceleration with 0 to100 km/h in 6.8 seconds.

It’s a fuel efficient package with the electric motor cutting in to reduce fuel use in the city. The electric drive offers EV, Auto, eDrive and a Save mode that maximize battery use. The engine has the usual Eco, Mid and Sport modes. For the best fuel economy the mix of Auto eDrive and Eco is a good combination. You get up to 420 km of driving range, with a mix of gas and hybrid power. There is the trademark wonderful steering, and delightful handling and the Mini feels bulletproof. According to Natural Resources Canada, the 2018 Mini Cooper SE Countryman ALL 4 has a combined fuel consumption rating of 8.6L/100 km.

Nothing much to complain about. Mini’s are a premium product and so are not cheap when you add must have options. The SE is the first hybrid Mini and naturally will see more improvements in range that will make it well worth the premium price. For now it offers a stylish, premium balance of fuel economy and performance in a hybrid package.

2018 MINI Countryman SE ALL4 MRSP from: $43,490.