Our Cars: MINI Countryman PHEV

22 February 2018: Does tax make this PHEV worthwhile?

The Details

Current mileage 3114
Claimed economy 134.5mpg
Actual economy 51.7mpg

If you’ve got a BIG MINI PHEV – or are thinking about getting one – chances are you’re picking it from a list as a company car. My guess is that MINI isn’t selling many of its £33,000 Qashqai rival in the showrooms.

As a company car proposition it looks very appealing indeed. Compare it to a similarly sized, similarly premium (arguably), conventionally engined SUV – an Infiniti QX30, say – and you’ll probably agree.

The left column is a base model Infiniti QX30 2.0t petrol, and on the right our BIG MINI. You’ll note the similarity between the P11D prices and, of course, the vast tax difference. Fairly self-explanatory.

As we’ve already discussed, if you’re a low mileage sort of driver – as in, 15 to 20 miles per day - then the PHEV could work very well in your favour. Beyond that – as we’ve also already discussed – things can fall apart quite dramatically.


Of course the other, under-reported, element of this is the cost of driving using the battery – it might feel ‘free’ but it obviously isn’t. The problem is that it’s not quite as easy to quantify as good old mpgs.

For a start, tariffs vary both by geography and time, but also, units of electrical energy consumption are still quite alien to most people in car terms. As someone who pays zero attention to his energy bills (not because of socio-economic privilege, but because they’re boring and they tend to work themselves out) I count myself in that alienated category.

Still, this should be fairly simple. The capacity of the MINI’s electric motor battery is 7.6kWh. So, let’s assume a fairly high average electricity tariff of 15p per kWh (yours is probably closer to 12p), and the cost per charge is £1.14. And assuming an average 15 electric-only miles from a charge – about right in our experience – we’re back to 7.6 again: 7.6p per mile.

Compare that, then, to what it costs using the petrol engine to power our car. Again, some assumptions are required. So, let’s take the 27 litres it took us to drive 198 miles from the office a few weeks back, with an empty battery, and that the fuel cost is £1.20 per litre. That’s £32.40. Which means it cost 16.4p per mile in fuel to get up the motorway.

Draw your own conclusions on what all this could mean in your own circumstances. But, it does seem that if you’re in the particular position of being able to pick a £35-40,000 company car but don’t fancy a diesel Audi like everyone else, and you live very close to work and are rarely on the motorway, this could very well work for you. For everyone else…

« Earlier: BIG MINI PHEV's charge sheet     Later: The joy of PHEV »

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