USED: Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4 Review: Gas Electric Hybrid, Yes, But Also, Fun and Full of Personality

2018 Mini Cooper S E Plug In Hybrid Gas Electric Car

The little car that could. And did.

There is so much packed into this little car I hardly know where to start. So I’ll start with the elephant in this car. Why would you buy a gas electric hybrid plug-in car that only gets 10 miles on a charge? Isn’t the goal to do all or most of your driving on electric?

But having a short range electric motor has its advantages. Most notably, there’s not a large electric motor and battery taking up passenger space, and in the Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4, this is a significant factor. The Mini Cooper is a small car, after all! But there are other reasons it makes good sense, too.

2018 Mini Cooper S E Plug In Hybrid Electric Car

Charging the Mini Cooper S E. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Who This Car is For

  • Singles, couples or small families
  • Buyers who want an electric plug-in/gas hybrid engine
  • Buyers who like a car with personality
  • Drivers who want the Mini Cooper’s fun, performance focused drive experience
  • Drivers who need all wheel drive
  • Buyers who can benefit from the federal and state tax credits on an EV
2018 Mini Cooper S E Plug In Hybrid Electric Car

The Mini Cooper SE’s electric charge door, which also doubles as the car’s EV badge. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What This Car Costs

  • Mini Cooper Countryman All4 base price:$31,070
  • Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4 base price, including run flat all season tires, performance control settings, sport seats, ambient lighting, heated front leatherette seats and keyless entry: $36,800
  • Head up display: $750
  • Destination charge: $850
  • Price of the model we drove: $39,799

Here’s our walk through of the Mini Cooper S E Countryman and tips for plugging it in

2018 Mini Cooper S E Plug In Hybrid Electric Car

The driver information screen shows that the battery is fully charged and has a 10 mile range. Photo: Scotty Reiss

5 Reasons Why the Mini Cooper S E Makes Sense

After driving this car for a week, I now get the many reasons this car makes sense, even with only a 10 mile electric range:

  1. Short trips: A lot of people spend their days making lots of short trips: a mile to the store, a half mile to school, a few miles to work. This type of driving is ideal for the Mini Cooper SE; you might drive all day on electric most days. 
  2. Better MPG: For those times when you drive further, the electric motor can assist the gas engine for better fuel economy. Using the electric assist mode I regularly averaged about 35 MPG (but it’s possible to do better).
  3. EV Ownership Perks: EVs often qualify for special parking in many places, and often with free charging. While many EVs qualify to drive solo in the carpool lane in California, the Mini Cooper SE does not. It’s not the size of the electric motor, necessarily, but the emissions rating that keeps it off this list of qualifying cars. However, the Mini Cooper S E falls into a lot of perk categories by state, which you can see here.
  4. Tax Credits: And then, there are tax credits. The federal government has a $4,000 credit for the Mini Cooper S E. And many states offer a tax credit, too. Added together, this is a nice discount on the car.
  5. No Special Charge Equipment Needed: I was able to plug the Mini Cooper into the standard outlet in my garage. This is super convenient. I just left the cord there and plugged it in every time I got out of the car. It only took a second to pop the plug in or out. And when I went to Whole Foods I was able to park right in front in a space reserved for EVs and plug it in there, too. It recouped about a third of the battery, so about 3 miles, in 30 minutes. Totally worth it, if just for the reserved parking spot.

Another nice bonus – Charging security: Whether you use the charge cord that comes with the Mini or one at a public charging station, it can’t be removed from the car until the car is unlocked. And, the charge door won’t open if the car is locked. I liked that added bit of safety.

Read more: Does an electric car make sense for you?

2018 Mini Cooper S E Plug In Hybrid Electric Car

Center dash controls have a ‘cockpit’ feel; I liked that the USB port is right below and not buried in a cubby, making it easy to reach. Photo: Scotty Reiss

That Mini Cooper Experience: More To Love Than Just the EV

Not that the perks of an EV aren’t enough reason to consider this car; there’s also the Mini Cooper experience. Just unpacking its name shows much of what it offers:

First, it’s a Mini Cooper: When the Mini Cooper came back into the US market, it captured the hearts of people who wanted a car with personality. Drivers loved the go-kart drive feel, the quirky, Euro-feeling interior, the stand-out look of the car’s exterior.

S stands for Sport: Features like run flat tires and steptronic manual shifting enhance the drive experience, keeping the go-kart feel—close to the road, responsive acceleration and steering.

E stands for Electric: This actually boosts the sport drive feel, too: Electric cars tend to be zippier than their gas engine counterparts.

Countryman is the name of the 4-door model: Mini expanded on its original 2-door model to a four door version so you can take your crew and cargo along.

All4 means all wheel drive: Never letting the weather or rough terrain get in your way is a luxury some places and a necessity in others. 

The result is a car that fits both your need to not look like everyone else on the road and accommodate your kids, your dog, your luggage and your Costco run.

Meet the original plug in hybrid: the Chevy Volt

2018 Mini Cooper S E Plug In Hybrid Electric Car

Cargo space is nicely sized for a car this small. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Modern and Mature, Yes, But Still a Go-Kart at its Heart

The performance features in this car really set it apart—pretty cool for an EV. Here are the things that make it fun to drive:

  • Sport mode—yes, in an EV!
  • Clever head up display: flip the toggle switch and it rises out of the dashboard, showing your speed, directions and more
  • All wheel drive
  • Twin turbo 137 horsepower 3-cylinder engine—very peppy and fun to drive
  • An 87 horsepower electric motor
  • Hybrid all wheel drive system has 221 horsepower
  • Steptronic manual shift option
  • Run flat tires
  • Heated front seats—you’ll get more miles on a charge by not using the heater
2018 Mini Cooper S E Plug In Hybrid Electric Car

The arm rest is perfectly positioned so you can drop your wrist down to control the dial media selector. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What’s Missing? Active Safety Features

I get it, this car is built for active drivers who are engaged every second on the road. So they don’t need lane departure warning or assistance, adaptive cruise control or blind spot monitors. But for those moments that someone else is driving, that highway traffic becomes not so much fun or when you’re really having fun singing along with your crew, active safety features could prove to be a good investment, though they are not an option on the Mini Cooper.

The safety feature I did love, though, was the head up display, or HUD. Check out how this  works:

We did love the rear view camera, the automatic headlights, rain sensing wipers and the park sensors, which are great for getting as close as possible to the charge station or in my case, to the side of the garage where the plug is located. Anything that keeps bumpers and corners ding-free is a bonus.    

Prefer a non-hybrid Mini Cooper? Check out the Clubman S

2018 Mini Cooper S E Plug In Hybrid Electric Car

The front cabin of the Mini Cooper SE. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The Mini Cabin and Tech Experience — Well Designed with a Premium Feel

The Mini’s front cabin is truly unique. The gauges are all round, mimicking the exterior headlights, side mirrors and the winged logo. But it also has a classic car feel, with toggle switches to operate a few functions including the start/stop of the car. Just flip or push the yellow toggle and the car comes silently to life (it’s an electric hybrid, after all!).

Just above the toggles are climate control dials and the tech screen, where many of the car’s functions can be found, from driver feedback to music to navigation and vehicle settings. The screen is controlled by a dial on the center console just next the gear shifter. It was easy to reach and use, and the graphics are large and easy to read.

And, I really liked the cabin’s unique graphic look. Graphics are adapted to fit the round screen so you never for a minute forget you’re in a Mini Cooper, and every detail, from the gear shift collar (which has a switch that lets you shift from sport to eco mode) to the steering wheel, is classic Mini Cooper. A modern, comfortable, environmentally sensitive Mini Cooper.

2018 Mini Cooper S E Plug In Hybrid Electric Car

The Mini Cooper’s puddle light illuminates the ground on the driver’s side when the doors are unlocked. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What We Loved

  • A Mini logo puddle light greets you when you unlock the car
  • Automatic high beam lights
  • Rain sensing wipers
  • Mini logo puddle light
  • USB and AUX ports are just under the toggle controls and easy to reach
  • Keyless entry
  • Wireless phone charger (though my iPhone 6+ would not fit with its case on)
  • Heated seats
  • Run flat tires
  • The super cute EV badge that doubles as a charge port door
  • Split, folding rear seats
  • Clever cargo cover that lifts when the lift gate is opened
  • Plenty of room for everyone
  • 3 years of included maintenance
2018 Mini Cooper S E Plug In Hybrid Electric Car

The rear seat with our infant seat installed; it fits, but barely. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What You Need to Know

  • Uses regular fuel
  • Goes 10 miles on a charge
  • Drive modes include sport, eco and electric assist to boost MPG
  • The rear seat is tight for child car seats
  • 2 USB ports, one on the center console and one in the arm rest
  • 4 years/50,000 mile warranty
  • 8 year/80,000 electric battery warranty
2018 Mini Cooper S E Plug In Hybrid Electric Car

Head up display is available, giving you turn by turn directions, speed and more. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What We Listened to in the Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4

The Mini’s modern feel inspired us to find new and electrifying music for our drive. This is what we listened to.

2018 Mini Cooper S E Plug In Hybrid Electric Car

2018 Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4 Monroney window sticker. What is a Monroney anyway?

Disclosure: The Mini Cooper S E Countryman All 4 was provided for this review; all opinions are my own.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss