The Countryman EV is an immensely likeable, well-resolved electric SUV

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With so many EVs offering almost indistinguishable power delivery and driving characteristics, assessing them sometimes feels like a game of Top Trumps merely comparing ranges, battery capacities, charging rates, number of motors, sizes of touchscreen and the like.

But with the new Mini Countryman SE All4, the first electric version of the new third-gener, let’s start with something far more subjective: how charming it is. Really, it’s lovely.

Electric power suits the Mini brand well. The upbeat, premium but friendly styling that Mini is aiming for meshes well with the calm and relaxing dynamics and instant zip that battery-powered cars offer.

And with its spacious interior, retro design flourishes and infotainment that sit just the right side of cheesy, this family SUV shows great potential as the British brand accelerates its transition. That gives it considerable appeal. Enough to overlook some statistics that might be unexceptional in a game of Top Trumps? Let’s see.



Mini Countryman EV front three quarter static

This first electric Countryman is the first of a new family of electric Mini models to arrive.

But while the others that will arrive soon – the Cooper E three-door hatchback and Aceman crossover – will use a bespoke EV platform, the third-generation Countryman is based on a multi-powertrain architecture. We've already sampled the combustion-engined Countryman in top-spec John Cooper Works performance form.

The Countryman shares the BMW Group's UKL platform with the new BMW X2 and iX2, along with the X1 and iX1 – and the electric versions of those models also share the same motors and battery as the Mini.

Regardless of whether it's the petrol or electric version, the first thing that strikes you about this new third-generation Countryman is how big it is. It's the largest Mini ever, in fact, having grown substantially from the previous generation model. Before you could just about call it an enlarged hatch; now it's definitely a full-on crossover.

Styling-wise, the electric version gives only a few clues about the nature of its powertrain, with a revamped front grille and subtle badging. It definitely has a presence on the road, fusing modern SUV design trends with Mini's signature design elements.


Mini Countryman EV interior

The countryman has a genuinely well-resolved interior, which could prove to be a stand-out feature against the growing ranks of similarly sized electric SUVs. Our Exclusive-trim test car was bright and spacious, with a minimalist design complemented by retro flourishes. 

Mini's designers have used the extra space the platform offers to good effect, so both front and rear occupants will find decent leg room and won't feel hemmed in.

The feeling of space is accentuated by excellent use of materials, many of which are partly recycled or recyclable. The fabric that covers the dashboard felt warming and inviting, and nicer than the ‘sporty’ touches of Sport trim, as we saw on the John Cooper Works.

As with the John Cooper Works model, the bulk of the controls are operated through a round OLED touchscreen that dominates the dashboard.

Our test car also featured an optional head-up display, and that’s an option box you would do well to tick, given that all of the information usually seen behind the steering wheel has been shifted to the top of the touchscreen.

The infotainment system offers eight ‘Experiences’, selected via a pleasingly tactile toggle beneath the touchscreen (there are also retro-styled physical controls for the gear selector, start/stop button and volume control), that all have an introductory sound and adjust the look and layout of the screen.

There are other changes from the ICE version, too. Pick Timeless mode and not only will your touchscreen become a recreation of an original 1959 Mini speedo but also the motor noise will take on a subtle new tone reminiscent of a four-cylinder petrol engine.

Again, it's a bit of a gimmick and won't be to everybody's tastes, but it’s understated enough to be just the right side of cheesy.

As in the JCW, we encountered the odd infotainment glitch, and how much you enjoy any Countryman might depend on how touchscreen-tolerant you are.


Mini Countryman EV front three quarter lights on

Like the closely related BMW iX2, the electric Countryman will be offered in two forms.

The entry-level Countryman E will use a single front-mounted motor that drives the front wheels, while the SE All4 tested here features a motor on each axle for a combined 309bhp.

Both versions use a 64.7kWh battery, that gives official ranges of 287 for the E and 269 miles for the SE All4.

That means the twin-motor model can go three miles further between chargers than the similar iX2, although you'll find plenty of rivals with even more range. You'll find plenty that can charge faster than 130kW, too.

Drive an electric Countryman back to back with a petrol one and you will notice the extra weight (about 300kg in the E and 450kg in the SE All4), although the stronger punch of the dual-motor powertrain largely compensates.

Progress is effortless, smooth and quiet and while it is somewhat lacking in character, that's an issue common to most electric powertrains.


Mini Countryman EV side left tracking

The extra weight of the electric Countryman doesn't affect the ride much, even on the optional 20in wheels fitted to our test car.

Mini’s eternal quest for “go-kart handling” means that the ride can be a bit stiff, but it’s certainly more pliant on bumpy roads than the John Cooper Works petrol version.

At speed, the steering isn’t as sharp as in the JCW, and nor is the handling quite as tight. Still, it strikes a nice balance for an SUV of this size and has an edge over the iX2.

It certainly has the ability to put a smile on your face, then, but ultimately it’s still an electric SUV, so owners are unlikely to spend their days trying to recreate Rauno Aaltonen’s rallying exploits.

The regenerative braking can be set to effectively offer one-pedal driving or you can pick a mode that automatically adjusts its strength depending on conditions ahead.

As in the iX2, you won’t find paddles to manually control the regen, and nor will you find that car’s gimmicky boost paddle.

Three of the Experiences – Go Kart, Core and Green – also adjust the driving mode settings, variously firming or lightening the steering and the optional adaptive suspension and adjusting the motors’ delivery.

Green mode is the equivalent of Eco, with the addition of an animal image on the screen to represent how efficient you’re being. A hummingbird is efficient, for whatever reason.


Mini Countryman EV front three quarter lead

So far we've only driven the Mini Countryman SE All4 on the launch event in Portugal, on roads unlikely to be truly representative of what you'll find in the UK.

But on a mixed route that included highways, mountains and urban streets, we achieved an average economy of 3.4mpkWh – creditably close to the official figure of 3.6mpkWh.

Worthy of that hummingbird on the Eco display, we reckon, but still another Top Trump stat that’s beaten by other EVs on the market today.

And it does make us wonder whether the single-motor E, which costs some £5000 less and offers 18 miles of extra range, might be the better buy.


Mini Countryman EV front three quarter static

When it comes to pure statistics, the Countryman SE All4 can't match the top cars in its class.

But statistics don't count for everything, and raw data doesn’t really capture how pleasant the SE All4 is to spend time in and drive. It’s relaxing, fun and, yes, just the right side of cheesy. 

It's an immensely likeable, well-resolved electric SUV that captures the spirit of the Mini brand and is both pleasant to drive and spend time in. A bit of charm can get you a long way.

James Attwood

James Attwood, digital editor
Title: Acting magazine editor

James is Autocar's acting magazine editor. Having served in that role since June 2023, he is in charge of the day-to-day running of the world's oldest car magazine, and regularly interviews some of the biggest names in the industry to secure news and features, such as his world exclusive look into production of Volkswagen currywurst. Really.

Before first joining Autocar in 2017, James spent more than a decade in motorsport journalist, working on Autosport, autosport.com, F1 Racing and Motorsport News, covering everything from club rallying to top-level international events. He also spent 18 months running Move Electric, Haymarket's e-mobility title, where he developed knowledge of the e-bike and e-scooter markets.