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New Countryman is biggest MINI ever

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BMW says the new MINI Countryman is the biggest and most versatile model to be launched in the brand’s 57-year history. The new model is available to order at MINI retailers nationwide, with diesel prices starting at £24,425 for the Cooper D Countryman. First UK deliveries will be in February. Prices for the plug-in hybrid model will be announced in due course.

The Countryman’s on- and off-road ability is reflected in its design, which is designed to fuse familiar MINI styling with the tough look of a crossover thanks to the extended ground clearance, large wheel arches and short overhangs.

For the first time MINI is offering a plug-in hybrid model with the new MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4. This new hybrid features a turbocharged petrol engine and an electric motor, reducing fuel consumption to 134.5 mpg while also enabling a 0-62 mph time of just 6.9 seconds. The rest of the new MINI Countryman line-up is powered by an all-new range of engines sourced from the latest MINI TwinPower Turbo generation.

The new MINI Countryman is available with both manual and Steptronic gearboxes and with front- and all-wheel drive. The latter, MINI’s ALL4 system, has been refined for increased driving agility and efficiency.

Reflecting customer demand for high-end features, equipment levels on the new MINI Countryman have been bolstered versus the outgoing model. Additions to the standard equipment list include MINI’s acclaimed Satellite Navigation System, Bluetooth, Cruise Control, Emergency E-call and Active Guard among others. There is broad scope for owners to personalise their new Countryman, with extensive colour and trim options, advanced technology features and a range of option packs that offer cost savings for the customer. One such option is a new 8.8-inch inch touchscreen display as part of the MINI Navigation System XL, offering touchscreen multimedia and navigation control for the first time in a MINI.

The new Countryman is some 20 centimetres longer than its predecessor and three centimetres wider, while its wheelbase has been extended by 7.5 centimetres. These enlarged proportions make it the largest MINI on sale. The standard-fit roof rails in satin-finished aluminium are combined with silver-coloured side sill tops and are designed to lend greater visual emphasis to the car’s height. The familiar ‘floating roof’, large headlamps and hexagonal radiator grille are all present, albeit having undergone evolution. From the front, the headlamp units differ from other MINI models by having an asymmetric shape, with LED lighting now an option. And at the rear, the vertically arranged light units help create the family ‘look’.

Inside, the hallmark MINI central instrument is integrated in the instrument panel and is surrounded by an LED ring that provides a lighting display in response to driving situations by way of feedback from the controls. The second row of seating now contains three full seats, and the rear door openings have been enlarged, enabling easier entry and exit. In addition to overall interior width, leg space is more generous too, with an extra five centimetres of knee room over the previous model. The rear seats can be shifted back and forth by up to 13 cm, prioritising either passenger legroom or boot capacity depending on the situation. The folding rear backrest offers a 40 : 20 : 40 split and also provides a variable tilt angle so as to also offer either increased seating comfort or additional storage space at the rear.

The new model also has more storage for on-board items and increased overall cargo capacity both with the seats in position and when lowered. In both the front and rear doors there are pockets that hold one-litre beverage bottles and the centre console extending up to the instrument panel has an integrated storage compartment and two cup holders in front of the gear or selector lever. The MINI Controller and the switch for the electrical parking brake are also positioned on the centre console.

The luggage compartment volume is 450 litres and can be extended by folding the rear seats to a total of 1,309 litres. This constitutes a maximum increase of 220 litres as compared to the previous generation model.

The luggage area can be accessed via an optional electric tailgate with touch-free opening and closing possible in conjunction with Comfort Access. The optional storage package comprises a variable load floor, lashing eyes and tension straps and also a stainless steel insert on the loading sill.

The new MINI Countryman is available at launch with a choice of four new engines: two petrol-powered variants and two diesels. In addition, for the first time there will be a plug-in hybrid MINI, the Cooper S E Countryman ALL4.

The 2-litre diesel engines in the MINI Cooper D Countryman and MINI Cooper SD Countryman both feature MINI TwinPower Turbo technology, with high pressure common rail injection. The 148 bhp / 243 ft lb engine in the Cooper D enables a 0-62 mph time of just 8.9 seconds (quicker than the previous model) but with 64.2 mpg and 113 g/km of C02 emitted. The high performance Cooper SD Countryman features 187 bhp and a full 295 ft lb of toque, providing a 0-62mph sprint of just 7.7 seconds but with 61.4 mpg and 121 g/km of C02 emitted.

For the first time a MINI is available with a plug-in hybrid system, achieving high performance with low consumption and emissions. BMW says the new MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL 4 draws on the expertise in this area from across the Group, including the range of BMW iPerformance vehicles.

A three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with MINI TwinPower technology, producing 134 bhp and 162 ft lb of torque, powers the front wheels of the Cooper S E Countryman. This engine is combined with a six-speed Steptronic transmission. The rear wheels are powered by a synchronous electric motor housed under the floor of the luggage compartment. This motor offers 87 bhp and 122 ft lb of torque, with all of the torque available from zero rpm. The motor’s output is sent to the rear axle via a two-stage single-speed transmission.

The lithium-ion battery is positioned directly in front of the electric motor underneath the rear seat. It is made up of five modules, each comprising 16 battery cells. Like the electric motor, the battery is produced at the Dingolfing plant, the BMW Group’s competence centre for eDrive technology. Using the power of the electric motor alone, the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is able to provide locally emissions-free driving, and in the event that more intense acceleration is required, the electric motor supports the combustion engine via a boost function. A total system output of 221 bhp and a combined torque of 284 ft lb are available, enabling 0-62 mph in 6.9 seconds. Fuel consumption and C02 emissions are  134.5 mpg and 49 g/km respectively, and the Cooper S E Countryman can travel up to 25-miles on electric power alone.

Via the eDrive toggle switch, the driver can also influence control over the interaction of the power units. There are three operating modes: Auto, Max and Save Battery. In the standard setting AUTO eDRIVE, the vehicle runs on electrical power only up to a speed of 50 mph. At higher speeds and in the case of very intensive loads, the combustion engine is automatically enabled in addition. In MAX eDRIVE mode the vehicle is powered by the electric motor alone at speeds up to approximately 78 mph. Finally, the SAVE BATTERY mode can be selected so as to relieve the capacity of the high-voltage battery or raise its charge state to at least 90 per cent so that sufficient electrical power remains for locally emissions-free driving later on.

With route guidance activated on standard specification navigation system, MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 uses an anticipatory energy management system to ensures that appropriate sections of the route are run on electric power alone.

The high-voltage battery is housed underneath the slightly raised rear seat, as is the 35-litre fuel tank. When all seats are in use, the luggage compartment volume in the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is only slightly less than in the conventionally powered models. The connection for the charging cable is under a flap in the area of the left-hand side scuttle.

This particular model is distinguishable by the model-specific “e” badge on the side scuttles, and also a yellow “S” in the model inscription on the rear as well as on the radiator grille and doorsill finishers.

The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 comes as standard with the MINI Visual Boost Radio featuring a 6.5-inch colour screen in the central instrument. In addition to the MINI Country Timer, this also displays information such as the charge state of the high-voltage battery and operating mode of the hybrid drive selected by eDrive toggle switch. In conjunction with the optional Media package including MINI navigation system XL, operation is via an 8.8-inch screen with a new graphic design and touchscreen function as well as via the Touch Controller in the centre console.

MINI’s all-wheel drive system, ALL4, is available as an option on all engine variants. This latest version of the system not only reacts quickly and precisely to changing situations, it is also compact and offers a high level of internal efficiency. It consists of a power take-off unit integrated in the front axle differential, a propeller shaft leading to the rear axle and a hang-on clutch that ensures precisely measured transmission of the drive torque to the rear wheels. The system’s electronic control is interconnected with the Dynamic Stability Control DSC, so it detects any need to adapt power distribution early on.

Where safety systems are concerned, the standard collision warning with city braking function can be extended to include the Driving Assistant system with camera-based active cruise control, pedestrian warning with initial brake function, high beam assistant and road sign detection. In addition to this, Park Distance Control, rear view camera, Parking Assistant and Head-Up-Display are also optionally available.

MINI has raised the level of standard equipment offered on the new Countryman, with many features previously included in the ‘Pepper’ pack on the outgoing MINI Countryman now offered as standard. Highlights include 16-inch alloy wheels on Cooper and Cooper D models, rear parking sensors (PDC), MINI Connected and Bluetooth connectivity. MINI Cooper S and Cooper SD Countryman models add 17-inch alloy wheels and cloth/leather upholstery. All models in the MINI Countryman range now have Satellite Navigation as standard.

The standard entertainment system is the MINI Visual Boost Radio featuring a 6.5-inch colour display in the central instrument. Bluetooth hands-free telephone facility and satellite navigation are also both standard on the new MINI Countryman.

Options include the Harman Kardon hi-fi speaker system and the MINI navigation system XL, which comprises not just the Touch Controller on the centre console but also an 8.8-inch colour touchscreen in the central instrument with a new graphic design.

The broad range of exterior paint finishes, seat upholstery types and interior surfaces enables individualisation of the new MINI Countryman in a way that reflects personal style. However, owners can choose to personalise their vehicles further with the aid of MINI’s option packs. The most popular of these is set to be the Chilli Pack, which for example enjoys a 75 per cent take up rate on the new MINI Clubman. The Chilli Pack includes automatic air conditioning, the MINI driving modes, sports seats (trimmed in part-leather or cloth/leatherette) and LED headlamps amongst a long list of items. The price of the pack is £2,980, but the saving for the customer is £1,150.

The JCW Chilli Pack (£4,950/£4,250 for ‘S’ models) includes all of the above plus items such as the JCW aerodynamics kit, sports suspension and 18-inch wheels. Its price depends on whether it’s fitted to a Cooper or Cooper S model. The Media Pack (£950) includes the MINI Navigation System XL, MINI Find Mate, MINI Connected XL and the Extended phone prep with wireless charging. Meanwhile, the MINI Yours Pack (£2,300/£1,825 for ‘S’ models) brings 19-inch alloy wheels, leather ‘Lounge’ seats, and a choice from three MINI Yours illuminated facia panels on the dashboard: Chestnut, British Oak or Piano Black. The MINI Teck Pack (£2,090) provides a rear view camera, Harman Kardon hi-fi, MINI Head-up display and the Media Pack XL contents. Finally, the MINI Activity Pack (£850) features the sliding rear seats, the picnic bench and the automatic tailgate amongst other items.

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