Mini Clubman Plug-in Hybrid on Its Way

BMW-owned Mini has confirmed that its first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle will be the 2017 Clubman.

The British automaker teased the new second-generation model with photos showing a near production prototype model.

It has been known for some time that the Countryman plug-in would share the same platform and gasoline-electric drivetrain with the European BMW 225xe.

The 225xe combines a 134 horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine with a rear-mounted 87 horsepower electric motor, together making a total system output of 221 horsepower.

The plug-in Clubman isn’t expected to vary much from the BMW version.

By combining a front mounted gas engine with a rear-mounted electric motor, it offers four-wheel drive in hybrid mode and rear-wheel drive in pure electric mode.

A 7.6-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack resides under the rear seat, which should provide the same 25-mile electric driving range as the 225xe using the overly generous European rating system.

The Countryman plug-in’s drivetrain will come with three modes: Auto eDrive to balance gasoline and electric power, Max eDrive and a Save Battery mode, which allows the engine to charge the hybrid’s battery through a generator while powering the vehicle.

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Drive is channeled through a standard six-speed automatic transmission.

The new Countryman’s styling won’t change dramatically. The existing car is still a strong seller so a radical new design approach isn’t necessary.

The biggest change is the increase in length that will stretch the wagon to nearly 14 feet thanks to a longer wheelbase.

That means more interior space, especially in the rear.

Even with the increased size, Mini said the PHEV will still offer the car’s signature “go-kart” driving experience and will tune the hybrid system for both efficiency and performance.

The Clubman plug-in hybrid isn’t Mini’s first venture into electrified vehicles.

That honor belongs to the battery electric Mini E that was leased to select customers in 2009 and had a driving range of around a 100-miles.

The Clubman plug-in will be revealed sometime later this month and will go on sale by mid-2017 alongside the standard Mini with three-and four-cylinder turbocharged gas engines.