2023 MINI Countryman test car hits the road

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The upcoming next-generation MINI Countryman has been spied testing ahead of its 2023 reveal and will offer a fully-electric drivetrain.

This is our best look yet at the new third-generation MINI Countryman, which is destined to launch in 2023. MINI’s largest model will retain its retro-styling but will see a new range of engines, interior technology and even a new platform implemented.

The Countryman is MINI’s second best-selling car and with the arrival of a new all-electric Aceman SUV model, it’ll grow in size to stand out within the British firm’s range. The new Countryman will sit at the top of a new-look MINI range with plans for a revised MINI and an all-new MINI hatchback.

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We’ve caught the new Countryman testing on the road and at the Nurburgring in both Cooper guise and in hotter Cooper S trim. This latest batch of spy pictures show the S model, with production-spec lights and less camouflage.

Our spy shots preview what MINI’s rejuvenated Countryman could look like and judging by the latest spy shots, the finished car shouldn’t be far off from our prediction. It’ll retain a similar retro-style design as its predecessors, with round headlights – which we can see will incorporate a new LED signature.

The grille on this sporty S model will be more aggressive with larger air intakes than the standard Cooper version. The overall proportions look similar to the current Countryman and there’s a continuation of MINI’s usual rounded lines. To the rear there’s a roof spoiler, new lights each side of the bootlid and quad-exhaust tips.

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The Cooper S model will utilise a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but will also make use of 48-volt electrification for more power and reduced emissions, this engine is available in the new BMW X1 – where it puts out 160kW and 360Nm.

We’ve also seen the standard Cooper variant that will be most popular with buyers. It’s still heavily camouflaged but we can see a subtler variation of the front lower grille than the one on the S. The rear bumper is also much cleaner, forgoing the quad exhaust tips for hidden exhausts.

MINI’s design language is set to evolve with the new Countryman. We’ll get our first official look at this new design ethos with the next-generation three-door Hatch, which will be the first among MINI’s many new arrivals due soon. Previously leaked images from China already point to an evolution of the brand’s grille and a new rear facia featuring trapezoidal tail-lights.

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The current car is around 4.3 metres long, but the newcomer will stretch this to almost 4.5 metres, leaving space for the new small electric SUV. As such, the new Countryman will rival the likes of the Audi Q3 and the Volvo XC40, almost moving up a segment.

The new SUV will be underpinned by an evolution of the current model’s platform, known as FAAR, but it won’t be built at MINI’s HQ in the UK. Countryman production will move from its current home in Holland to a BMW production line in Leipzig, Germany.

Although the new X1 offers a plug-in hybrid version, the Countryman PHEV will probably be dropped in favour of 48-volt mild-hybrid units, with a full EV also offered for the first time.

“I think once you get EVs to a certain range, for the MINI use case, I don’t see a big market for PHEV,” hinted former MINI boss Bernd Körber last year. The petrol range will kick off with MINI’s familiar 100kW 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine.

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This engine will form the basis of the 48-volt mild-hybrid version, too, possibly badged Countryman Cooper. The unit’s outputs will stand at 125kW and 280Nm of torque, with the 48-volt system enabling engine-off coasting and improved efficiency.

The fully electric Countryman will be the most radical addition to the line-up. The new BMW iX1 uses the same FAAR platform so that car’s 64.7kWh battery will make its way over to the electric Countryman.

Back in 2017, MINI claimed the electric Countryman would have a range of around 450km and it looks like it will pretty much nail the brief with the iX1 sibling offering up to 438km of range. We should also see charging rates of up to 130kW for a 10 to 80 per cent top-up in 29 minutes.

A pair of electric motors (one on each axle) should produce around 230kW and 494Nm of torque, giving a 0-100km/h time of roughly 5.7 seconds. The ‘ALL4’ badging on the Countryman’s hot Cooper S models should return given the iX1 utilises all-wheel drive.

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