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by Matt Campbell

The 2017 Mini Countryman will not only grow in size compared to its predecessor, but it looks likely the SUV will be the first model from the brand to boast a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

Our European spies have caught the next-generation Mini Countryman undergoing winter testing with the prototype vehicle brandishing “Hybrid Test Vehicle” stickers across its body.

2017 Mini Countryman_06

If the new Mini SUV does come with a plug-in hybrid option it won’t be too big of a surprise, given that the Countryman is set to be based on the BMW/Mini UKL platform, which also underpins the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer (which has been spotted testing a plug-in drivetrain, too).

Details are yet to be confirmed, but our sources suggest the hybrid drivetrain will use an electric motor to power the rear wheels when needed, while a small capacity turbocharged petrol engine will send its power to the front hoops.

2017 Mini Countryman_05

The electric motor is expected to produce about 75kW of power and 250Nm of torque, while the petrol engine – likely to be the same three-cylinder 1.5-litre unit seen in the regular Mini hatch and Mini 5 Door – should boast at least 100kW and 200Nm. Combined, the pair could allow the Countryman plug-in hybrid 180kW/450Nm.

Not only have we seen the first plug-in Mini, but this is also our first glimpse of the interior of the new-generation Countryman (which was snapped inside a non-hybrid version of the car).

2017 Mini Countryman_01

It is clear from the single image (above) that the new Countryman features a vastly different cockpit to the model it replaces, with its larger central media screen flanked by squared-off vents and more conventional switchgear.

As we’ve reported in the past, the new-generation Countryman is expected to grow in all directions, and interior practicality is likely to see a generous boost due to the packaging benefits of the new modular platform. A bigger boot and more copious back seat are two of the likely improvements – and Mini has also hinted at an even larger SUV.

2017 Mini Countryman_09

There’s no word yet on when the new Mini Countryman will be unveiled, but there’s every chance we’ll see it early in 2016 ahead of its scheduled on-sale date later next year.

Click the Photos tab above for more images on the 2017 Mini Countryman.




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