New 2023 MINI Countryman SUV spied on road and on track

The third-generation MINI Countryman will share BMW technology with a pure-electric variant available

MINI’s second best-selling car, the Countryman, will soon receive a third generation with all-electric power coming to the model for the first time. 

We expect the new Countryman to arrive in 2023, but we’ve already caught it testing in Germany, both in Cooper guise and in hotter Cooper S trim. 

The new Countryman will likely retain a similar retro-style design as its predecessors, although MINI will increase the size of its SUV - a move made necessary because of the need to accommodate a new, smaller, all-electric SUV to that beneath the Countryman in the brand’s range. To do this, the next Countryman will become the largest MINI ever, and our latest spy shots are our best look yet at the new car. 

A Cooper S version will return, as evidenced by the quad-exhaust set-up of a prototype spied testing on the Nurburgring. The performance model will retain MINI’s 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but will also make use of 48-volt electrification for more power and reduced emissions, offering 215bhp and 360Nm.

Testing on the road is a less sporty model, likely the Cooper variant that will be most popular with buyers. It’s still heavily camouflaged but we can see a subtler variation of the front lower grille than the one on the S. The rear bumper is also much cleaner, forgoing the quad exhaust tips for hidden exhausts. 

MINI’s design language is set to evolve with the new Countryman. We’ll get our first official look at this new design ethos with the next-generation three-door Hatch, which will be the first among MINI’s many new arrivals due soon. Previously leaked images from China already point to an evolution of the brand’s grille and a new rear facia featuring trapezoidal tail-lights. 

The current car is around 4.3 metres long, but the newcomer will stretch this to almost 4.5 metres, leaving space for the new small electric SUV. As such, the new Countryman will rival the likes of the Audi Q3 and the Volvo XC40, almost moving up a segment.

The new SUV will be underpinned by an evolution of the current model’s platform, known as FAAR, but it won’t be built at MINI’s HQ in the UK. Countryman production will move from its current home in Holland to a BMW production line in Leipzig, Germany.

When it comes to engines, the current Countryman PHEV will probably be dropped in favour of 48-volt mild-hybrid units, with a full EV also offered for the first time.

“I think once you get EVs to a certain range, for the MINI use case, I don’t see a big market for PHEV,” hinted former MINI boss Bernd Körber last year. The petrol engine range will kick off with MINI’s familiar 134bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol, enabling a starting price of around £28,000 when it arrives in the UK.

This engine will form the basis of the 48-volt mild-hybrid version, too, possibly badged Countryman Cooper. The unit’s output will stand at 168bhp and 280Nm of torque, with the 48-volt system enabling engine-off coasting and improved efficiency.

The fully electric Countryman will be the most radical addition to the line-up. We’ve yet to see an EV from MINI or parent firm BMW using the FAAR platform, and BMW’s upcoming iX1 - a sister model for the MINI - is likely to launch around the same time as the electric Countryman. 

In a 2017 presentation BMW revealed that FAAR EVs will use a battery of at least 60kWh for a range of 280 miles, and have electric motors with 134bhp or 255bhp. It’s possible that the electric Countryman will use a dual-motor set-up for ALL4 four-wheel drive.

Check out the latest on the 2023 MINI Hatch here...

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