Mini unveils its first hybrid vehicle

The Countryman S E keeps the car's all-wheel-drive pedigree.

Tiny-carmaker Mini unveiled its hybrid all-wheel-drive Countryman S E at the LA Auto Show today. What's intriguing is that while it's an AWD vehicle, the front wheels are powered by the gas engine while the rear are connected to an electric motor.

All told, those two powertrains pump out a combined 221 horsepower, with the twin-turbo internal combustion engine putting out 134 horsepower and the rear motor outputting 87. Like most hybrids, the vehicle offers multiple modes based on range and motoring style. These modes, which Mini calls " eDrive modes," include pure electric; electric with the gas engine kicking in at high speeds and during hard acceleration; and a gas-engine-only mode that keeps the battery topped off.

The new Countryman E's electric system is based on the platform used by parent company BMW's all electric eDrive system that powers the i3 and i8 vehicles. That pedigree will extend to an all-electric Mini that will launch in urban areas in 2019 according to Peter Schwarzenbauer, member of the BMW board of management. But beyond it's greener drivetrain, it's still a Countryman.

Like its gas-powered sibling introduced last night, the new Countryman S E is eight inches longer and one inch wider than the current vehicle. That translates to more cargo space for what Mini insists will be "awesome beach barbeques." The hybrid also comes standard with a 6.5-inch display for navigation and media playback, a panorama sunroof, keyless entry laser headlights and fog lights.

According to Schwarzenbauer the Countryman model accounts for 25 percent of all Minis sold, so it's not that big of a surprise that the automaker choose it to be its first hybrid. The automaker says that the car will travel nearly 25 miles in pure electric mode. Unfortunately, there's no word on what Mini expects the MPGe to be, when it'll be launched or pricing. Although there is talk that the MPGe will be announced in December and the car might be on sale in the US in March 2017.

Mini Countryman SE Hybrid: First Look