Our Cars: MINI Countryman PHEV

11 January 2018: Big road test of BIG MINI [Pt.2]

The Details

Current mileage 2662
Claimed economy 134.5mpg
Actual economy 56.5mpg

In the last update we explained that, despite having inordinately complicated underneath bits, the MINI is perhaps the most engaging medium crossover behind the wheel – yep, even the PHEV one.

In a few other ways, however, it’s scandalously frustrating. And that’s before you’ve framed it as a £44,000 car. That’s right. Just let that sink in. This fat MINI costs £44,000. We’ll go into detail about that in the next update, but it’s worth keeping in mind for now. You know, because you could just about scrape into a base model Porsche Macan for that.

Firstly - and by far the most irritating thing about our Countryman - is wind noise. Beyond 60mph or so it really does feel like there’s a gap in the windows. I think it’s coming from the edges of the sunroof (panoramic, optional, £800), but it’s so bad that I think there might be something wrong with the seals – I can’t believe that MINI (BMW) would have passed it that way. The din in the cabin is, frankly, atrocious.

It ruins the MINI as a long distance car, because there’s actually a good load of tyre noise too, and because the ride is on the firm side and the seats are too, it’s just not that pleasant to do distances in.

Mini E Cooper S 021

                                                    The bit where Mark's legs go

Couple that to the fact that, we’re discovering, long distance fuel economy is poor and the fuel tank is tiny – 36 litres – and this is not a car for high mileage drivers.

Not at all. We’ll talk more about fuel economy at a later date, but for now we’ll say that any initial glee at BIG MINI’s short distance efficiency is being well and truly eroded with every motorway excursion.

It’s a shame, because BIG MINI has a fantastic driving position – comfortable, lots of adjustment – and good visibility, so the basic ingredients of a quality motoway car are there. Plenty of overtaking power too. But in reality, on the motorway it feels lke a small car - noisy, unsettled. There’s irony in there somewhere.

So, great at the round the doors stuff, not so great further afield – is that really acceptable for £44,000 worth of family SUV crossover?

« Earlier: Big road test of BIG MINI [Pt.1]     Later: BIG MINI, big miles, big bills »

Updates
An unexpected late night knock at the door starts the latest chapter in the MINI's odd behaviour…
In cold statistical terms, BIG MINI works very well for some and not so for others - but there's joy for all in the cabin.
Our Countryman isn't giving us anywhere near its claimed mpg - obviously - but what if you're a company car driver?
As the temperature drops so too does the MINI's battery range, and so too does overall fuel economy...
Our Countryman PHEV isn't giving us anywhere near the economy it should be. It's getting frustrating.
11 January 2018: Big road test of BIG MINI [Pt.2]
We've established that BIG MINI electric is fun to drive, but unfortunately it's also a very flawed long distance car.
We've had our big hybrid MINI for a while now, so if you're after a road test, here's the first half of one.
The hybrid Countryman is part zero-emissions car, part hybrid hot hatch, depending where you are...
The first few weeks toing and froing with our big plug-in MINI is bringing much frugal enjoyment.
The MINI Countryman plug-in has a complicated and intriguing drivetrain. Here's the crack.
Our big plug-in MINI has arrived. It's confusing and exciting in equal measure. Mark explains all...
 

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