Smooth Countryman SE is a delight
At a glance
  • Handling
  • Comfort
  • Performance
  • Design
  • Interior
  • Practicality
  • Costs
Electric power in a big Mini
High-quality interior
Handling can be untidy
Too much wackiness
Electric version is pricey up front
  • Variant: Countryman SE All4
  • Price: From £47,180 (as tested)
  • Engine: Two 140kW electric motors
  • Power: 309bhp
  • Torque: 365lb ft
  • Transmission: Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
  • Acceleration: 0-62mph: 5.6secs
  • Top Speed: 112mph (limited)
  • Fuel: Range: 269 miles
  • co2: 0g/km
  • Road tax band: Free until April 2025
  • Dimensions: 4,433mm x 1,843mm x 1,656mm
  • Release Date: Now

Mini Countryman EV review 2024: New crossover is living the electric dream ... but tone down the twee, please

Mario Kart-like 'Earcons' prove irksome

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There’s a setting in the new Mini Countryman SE All4 — it’s one of eight different “Mini Experiences” you can choose from — called “Go-Kart”. Nothing too unusual in that; Mini likes to bang on about its products having go-kart handling. In fact, in some previous models a graphic of the car dreaming about go-karts flashed up when you selected Sport mode.

And with Go-Kart mode representing the sportiest setting for the British brand’s all-new electric crossover, those wanting to sample the marque’s fabled handling prowess will be engaging it rather a lot.

Mini Countryman SE ALL4

Whereupon, in the Countryman SE, as it’s known, you are greeted with a loud “Wa-HOO!”. As if one of the characters in the Mario Kart video game has just shot past you, drift-boosting their way out of a bend.

1997 called, wants its terminology back

And it’s annoying. Indeed, there’s an individual noise for every one of the eight Experiences you can select with the chunky toggle switch on the dash. Mini calls these eight jingles “Earcons”. Although someone ought to tell the company it’s no longer the 20th century and that emoticons were replaced by emojis in 1998. “Earjis” might have sounded even odder, mind you.

Mini Countryman SE ALL4

Anyway, cycle through Core, Green, Vivid, Timeless, Balance, Personal and Trail, and the car plays a select few notes at you. Mostly, these are inoffensive. Only in Go-Kart does our digital Toad shout his cry of exultation.

Thankfully, drivers can switch this sound function off if they want to, by delving through various layers of the infotainment system that is now presented on a round, 9.4in OLED touchscreen in the middle of the dash.

We’re aware that the big kids out there will find Earcons a fun part of the Countryman’s character, and that we’d be accused of being grumpy curmudgeons for disliking this aspect of the car. But frankly, if we owned the Countryman SE, we’d be switching them off at the earliest opportunity.

At the EV vanguard

But having muffled the Earcons, we’re happy to report that there’s a huge amount to like about this new Countryman. It’s part of Mini’s drive to become the first entirely “zero emission” subdivision of the BMW Group (certainly when it comes to products), which means that the company must put electric drive into more than just the cramped bodyshell of its smaller three-door hatchback.

Mini Countryman SE ALL4

The new Countryman, which is moving into its third modern-era (as in post-2001) generation, is the first to receive the new electric underpinnings. It’s also comfortably the biggest model the brand has ever made. You’re almost guaranteed to be fending off the cliched comments of “hur hur, the Mini isn’t mini anymore” if you buy one of these.

But its gain in size is good news for families. Fully 13cm longer and 6cm taller than the car it replaces, the new Countryman is now a genuinely practical machine.

Rear-seat passenger space is generous enough that two tallish adults should be more than comfortable back there, and the boot is commodious, too. It holds 460 litres of luggage with the rear seats in use and 1,450 litres with them folded down, both of which are healthy figures in this class of car.

Blue-and-gold glory

Visually, the new Countryman has plenty of appeal, both outside and in. Externally, it’s something of a gentle evolution of the model that went before, rather than a drastic set of changes, but there’s enough there to mark it out as the newbie if you’re an avid Mini-spotter.

Mini Countryman SE ALL4

The most obvious giveaway is that “floating” roof effect, which is a neat touch. A smoother rear hatch is another sign, while squared-off headlamps and upright, LED taillight units complete the look.

These latter items feature three different patterns that you can choose from for the LEDs, including the divisive Union Flag option (popular overseas but to less-than-patriotic Brits these days they’re thought of disparagingly as “Brexit Lights”). On the hot John Cooper Works model there are thin L-shaped graphics, but the Countryman SE All4 EV defaults to something like the St George’s cross lying on its side.

Electric Minis such as this one will only be denoted by little flashes of yellow. On the higher-powered SE All4, that means bright “S” badges on the front grille and next to the spaced-out Countryman lettering on the boot. Naturally, another EV telltale is the total lack of exhaust pipes peeking out from under the rear bumper.

Mini Countryman SE ALL4

The overall effect of all these changes is to give the Mini Countryman a pleasing exterior chunkiness and stance, without it coming across as gargantuan. It looked particularly good in the Slate Blue and contrasting light gold detailing (roof, mirrors, sills, skid plates and grille surround) of our test car, too.

And those attractive 20in alloys, rendered in matching gold, are made of 70 per cent recycled aluminium for maximum eco bonus points.

Lights fantastic

Moving back inside, the quality of the materials used, and the fit and finish are generally fabulous, although there are one or two areas which are a little cheap feeling. The interior door handles, for instance, which look great but are a bit flimsy, and the plastics used to surround the window switches in the door.

Mini Countryman SE ALL4

Elsewhere, Mini has gone for the minimalist appearance for the fascia, now everything is on that central touchscreen. The fabrics on the dashboard are a nice conceit, while the driver only has to focus on a steering wheel and a head-up display in front of them — something Tesla refuses to implement on its cars. Mini has adopted one of those pop-up ones, though, which isn’t as classy as it ought to be.

Of those eight Experiences, only three of them (Go-Kart, Core and Green) do anything to change the way the Countryman SE All4 drives, altering the levels of steering and accelerator responsiveness, as well as the regenerative braking (which recovers energy back to the battery when slowing down) level, in each setting.

The rest mainly affect the graphics on the screen and the illumination colours in the cabin, while also changing the digital sound effects the car makes when it’s in motion. Mostly, these are all fine, if a little gimmicky.

Personal is an interesting one, for instance, as you can upload your own photos to the screen and then the Mini’s projector lights will match colours to whatever picture is on the dial.

Vivid matches the in-car illumination to album covers that pop up on screen while you’re streaming your playlists. In Green, the car’s circular display alternates between a running big cat graphic and a flapping hummingbird, depending on how much power you’re using.

And then there’s Timeless, which changes all the fonts in the screen and the head-up display to a more classic car look, while making the main dial cream-coloured. It’s supposed to invoke the spirit of original Minis, but it might have been better if, instead of “Timeless”, Mini had called this mode “Make the infotainment screen of your Countryman look like the dial pack of a Rover 75”.

Dual-motor for the win

To drive, though, the SE All4 is a considerable success and is the pick of the Countryman’s launch line-up — even if it is the most expensive model to buy at £47,180, coming in about £5,600 more than the 296bhp petrol flagship, the John Cooper Works (JCW).

Mini Countryman SE ALL4

Mini offers the Countryman in two electric trims. The Countryman E has a single motor on the front axle, producing up to 201bhp and officially managing a maximum driving range of 287 miles from its 64.8kWh battery. It costs from £42,080.

The additional outlay required to go from the E to the SE relates to the “All4” bit of this car’s badging. It has another electric motor on its rear axle, adding up to a peak 309bhp, while only marginally trimming the range to 269 miles from the same battery pack as the E.

With its four-wheel-drive traction advantages and that robust power figure, which is only available on a ten-second “overboost” function, the Countryman SE All4 will accelerate from 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds, which is almost as quick as the much-lighter JCW (5.4 seconds).

Mini Countryman SE ALL4

On the move, the SE All4 gives a good sensation of speed and power, accelerating smartly if you require it to. But the way it delivers its electric reserves is nicely judged, so that the car remains smooth even if you flatten the accelerator.

Useful range

This is also the perfect drivetrain match for the third-generation Countryman’s more grown-up and reserved demeanour. In terms of its handling, ultimately the weight of the car will make itself felt, so it’s not the most fun thing you’ll ever drive. Certainly not with a Mini logo anywhere on it, at any rate.

But it is remarkably comfortable, subdued and refined. At no point do you ever lament the amount of tyre or wind noise coming into the cabin (even though there’s a bit of background blustering from the base of the Countryman’s bluff windscreen) and the ride quality is exceptionally good.

In terms of real-world range, we drove the Countryman in warmer climes but also not in a charge-conserving fashion, yet its readout continually said it would do around 200 miles in such instances. And from the way it ticked down as we drove on, we have no reason to think the Mini’s trip computer to be a liar.

Mini Countryman SE ALL4

If that doesn’t sound too impressive, the good news is that recharging shouldn’t take long. On public DC rapid chargers, the Mini’s fastest replenishment speed is 130kW, which will take the battery from 10 to 80 per cent in less than half-an-hour.

For charging at home, Mini will sell the Countryman SE either a basic 7.4kW set-up, which means a full charge from flat in less than nine hours, or an 11kW charger that reduces the time to six hours.

An optional 22kW AC system results in a three hour top-up at a fast — rather than rapid — on-street charger.

Yahoo! This is actually fun

Mini Countryman SE ALL4

Much of the Mini Countryman SE All4’s appeal is grounded in characteristics which are very sensible. It has a well-made, roomy and attractive interior, it looks good on the outside, and it drives in a pleasant and accomplished manner that will make it a delight to travel in as the main family car.

The range claims are believable, and even if the car’s handling talents aren’t the sharpest in the world, the sophisticated feel of the electric drivetrain suits the new Countryman down to the ground.

The new Countryman SE EV is not cheap, but it’s not out-of-the-ordinary expensive for this type of electric crossover, either — and most definitely not for one as shot through with quality, as this Mini is.

Yes, all very sensible reasons to buy the Mini. Just tone back the goofy “Ya-HOO!” shouting and what you have here is one of the best EVs of its type.

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