Over the past few years, Mini models have been getting bigger, to point where most aren’t particularly “mini” anymore.
That might seem to go against what the brand is supposed to be about, but parent company BMW is embracing it.
The German automaker touts the 2017 Mini Countryman—the second-generation crossover from its British ward—as the “biggest Mini yet.”
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Debuting next month at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show, the redesigned Countryman will also be the first Mini model to be offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
Behind an evolutionary version of Mini’s well-known design language, the 2017 Countryman is indeed larger than before.
Mini claims a 30-percent increase in cargo capacity, as well as increases in front and rear headroom, front and rear legroom, and rear shoulder room.
The second-generation Countryman rides on the same UKL platform used by the current Mini Hardtop, Convertible, and Clubman wagon, as well as the BMW X1 crossover.
The plug-in hybrid model—known as the Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4—uses a “through the road” all-wheel drive system, with a gasoline engine powering the front wheels, and an electric motor powering the rear wheels.
Its gasoline engine is a 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder unit, which is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
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Total system output is 221 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque, getting the Countryman plug-in hybrid from 0 to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, and on to a top speed of 137 mph, according to Mini.
A 7.6-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack mounted under the rear seats provides an estimated electric-only range of 24 miles, at speeds up to 77 mph.
Note that the range estimate is likely based on the more lenient European testing cycle; a U.S. EPA rating will likely be 20 to 30 percent lower.
Charging from a 240-volt Level 2 AC source takes three hours, according to Mini.
Because the Countryman requires both gasoline and electric power for all-wheel drive, the powertrain is linked to the vehicle’s stability-control system.
If the system detects excessive slip, both power sources are engaged regardless of the situation.
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In addition to the plug-in hybrid option, the base Countryman Cooper will be offered with the 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine, but without the electric motor.
The standalone gasoline engine produces 134 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque, and is available with 6-speed manual or automatic transmissions.
A Cooper S model gets a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, with 189 hp, 207 lb-ft, and 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission options.
Both the Cooper and Cooper S come standard with front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is optional.
The 2017 Mini Countryman goes on sale in the U.S. in March 2017.
Only the Cooper and Cooper S models will be available at that time, though, with the Cooper S E ALL4 plug-in hybrid following in June.
For more updates new-car reveals, head over to our Los Angeles Auto Show news page.
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