Where once Mini boasted about the strength of its smallness, the 2017 Mini Cooper Countryman rolls out onto the show floor at the Los Angeles Auto Show on the coattails of its bigness – a major part of the automaker’s marketing push for the most family-friendly member of its line-up. The Countryman family also gains its first plug-in hybrid electric model for 2017. In fact, it’s the only battery-assisted Mini to make it to market in Canada, period: the EV edition of the Cooper was only available as part of an American pilot project several years ago.
The Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is a bit of a mouthful, but it comes standard with a three-cylinder turbocharged engine matched with an electric motor that together generate 221 horsepower – healthy numbers for any small crossover. All-wheel drive is made possible by way of Mini’s “e-rear axle”, which improves traction when needed but causes little or no drag on the system during normal driving, and a six-speed auto is standard.
A three-cylinder turbocharged engine is also the order of the day for the Cooper edition of the Mini Countryman as well. Surprisingly, the smaller-displacement Cooper hits 100 km/h more than 1.5 seconds quicker than the four-cylinder car it replaces, with 13 more horsepower and a whopping 48 additional lb-ft of torque compared to the previous-generation Countryman.
The Cooper S Countryman retains four-cylinder power, but a bump up to a 2.0L motor from a 1.6 sees it turbocharging its way to 189 horses and 207 lb-ft of twist. An eight-speed automatic joins the options sheet for the S, while the standard Cooper can be had with a six-speed automatic (and a six-speed manual is still offered with either, even with all-wheel drive installed).
Getting back to the bigness, the new Cooper Countryman delivers 30 percent greater cargo space compared to the 2016 model, bringing it up to a more competitive level with other small SUVs. Passenger accommodations in the rear are also improved, with sliding back seats allowing for better passenger space configuration for all four seating positions in the vehicle.
Look for the 2017 Mini Cooper Countryman in March of next year, with the hybrid model to follow in June.