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The new F60 MINI Countryman appears to be almost ready for its primetime premiere, and the British brand has teased its upcoming crossover ahead of its debut. But it’s not just any other Countryman variant, but a new plug-in hybrid one, too – a first for the brand.

The front end shot gives us a very good look of what the new car will look like, with more angular headlights compared to the typical MINI round units, flanking the traditional trapezoidal front grille. Low down, there are three intakes with fog lights mounted closer to the centre of the car, plus Air Curtain intakes at the front corners, first seen on the new Clubman.

From what little we can see of the interior, the Countryman looks to receive much of the same improvements found on the new Hatch and Clubman – the previous dinner plate-sized centre-mounted speedometer has been replaced by a more conventional item behind the steering wheel, alongside the rev counter – here replaced by a power gauge. A new automatic gearlever from its other siblings can also be seen.

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Set into the grille is the S emblem, hinting that the PHEV version will be badged as the Cooper S and positioned as a sportier variant. That’s not surprising, given that it’s expected to use the same power plant as the BMW 225xe Active Tourer (with which it will also share BMW’s front-drive UKL platform), which is more powerful than all but the top-dog John Cooper Works models.

In the BMW, power comes from a 1.5 litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine that develops 136 hp and 220 Nm of torque, as well as a six-speed automatic transmission – the same as on Cooper models. Boosting those outputs is an 87 hp rear-mounted electric motor matched to a two-speed transmission, resulting in a heady 221 hp and 385 Nm and all-wheel drive.

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The company claims that the hybrid MINI Countryman retains the brand’s trademark driving dynamics, thanks to the electric drive components being placed low down, lowering the centre of gravity. Energy management is linked to the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system, optimising traction and drive stability.

As on BMW plug-in hybrid models, the Countryman hybrid will feature three driving modes. Auto eDrive is the default hybrid mode, while Max eDrive uses the electric motor as much as possible – in this mode, the car will be able to travel on pure electric power at speeds of up to 125 km/h. On the other hand, Save Battery runs the car on petrol power alone, maintaining or increasing battery charge.

Could a much cheaper, tax-free Countryman plug-in hybrid be offered in Malaysia, to join the BMW 330e and X5 xDrive40e? The current Countryman is already being locally-assembled, so it could well be a possibility.


SPYSHOTS: F60 MINI Countryman