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Mini Australia is yet to make up its mind on local potential for the Countryman PHEV, citing an iffy business case as the cause of its indecision.

The new Countryman is the first Mini to offer a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) drivetrain, in a variant called the Cooper S E All4.

It couples the familiar 100kW 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder with a 65kW synchronous electric motor, managing combined outputs of 165kW and 385Nm.

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The company claims the S E Countryman All4 uses 2.1L/100km on the EU combined cycle, and offers an all-electric range of 40km.

Mini Australia chief Tony Sesto told us this week the company was “very keen” to introduce the vehicle, but only if it saw market potential, adding that the company had franchise dealers eager to jump into the fray.

“One of the things we’re doing now is looking at the business case, but we’re very keen to introduce it into the market,” he said.

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“We need to make sure it’s viable for our dealer network and want to make sure there’s demand.”

Given the Countryman SD All4 diesel costs $51,500 plus on-road costs, it’d be hard to see the Countryman PHEV costing much below $60,000.

Mini’s parent brand BMW Australia offers a number of PHEVs already, including the 330e and X5 xDrive40e, as well as the BMW i8 and i3 REx models. There are more to come, too, including a plug-in 5 Series.

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Sesto also echoed BMW Australia boss Marc Werner, calling on the government to help ease the transition to electrification through incentives.

“We still don’t have a government that really acknowledges climate change, and support for cars like this, like other [countries] do,” he said.

While the Countryman PHEV remains a dicey chance for our market, the current four-variant range will expand from about July with the launch of the 170kW John Cooper Works (JCW) version.

MORE: 2017 Mini Countryman review
MORE: BMW demands Australian government end ’embarrassing silence’ on EV support




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