The larger third-generation MINI Countryman is expected to feature 48-volt hybrid tech, as well as a pure-electric variant, and our exclusive images preview how it could look.
MINI will further expand its range into new segments as it pushes on with electrification, but it will be anchored by a car that’s become a proven winner for the British brand, in the form of the third-generation MINI Countryman compact SUV, which will arrive in 2023.
Following its introduction in 2010, the trailblazing model paved the way for the MINI brand to expand beyond its hatchback roots. It’s comfortably the small car company’s second best-selling vehicle globally, only edged out by MINI’s heartland product, the Hatch, in three and five-door form.
MINI will reinvent its biggest offering by making the Countryman even larger still. This is necessary because of the need to accommodate a smaller, all-electric SUV to sit beneath the Countryman in the brand’s range, plus the confirmation from MINI of another incoming vehicle in the ‘premium compact’ segment, which could be a space-maximising MPV with links to the Urbanaut concept. To do this, the next Countryman will become the largest MINI ever, and our spy shots of the new car in prototype form highlight the expansion MINI has planned.
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.
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 arrivals next year. However, leaked images from China already point to an evolution of the brand’s grille and a new rear facia featuring trapezoidal tail-lights. Our exclusive images here preview how the Countryman could look with these features.
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.
When it comes to engines, the current 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 engine range will kick off with MINI’s familiar 100kW 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol, enabling a more affordable starting price.
This engine will form the basis of the 48-volt mild-hybrid version, too, possibly badged Countryman Cooper. The unit’s output will stand at 125kW and 280Nm of torque, with the 48-volt system enabling engine-off coasting and improved efficiency.
A Cooper S version will return, as evidenced by the quad-exhaust set-up of the spied prototype test car. This will retain MINI’s 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but will also make use of 48-volt electrification for more power and reduced emissions, offering 160kW and 360Nm.
The fully electric Countryman will be the most radical addition to the line-up. We’ve yet to see an EV from MINI or parent firm BMW using the FAAR platform, but in a 2017 presentation BMW revealed that FAAR EVs will use a battery of at least 60kWh for a range of 450km, and have electric motors with 100kW or 190kW. It’s possible that the electric Countryman will use a dual-motor set-up for ALL4 four-wheel drive.