Mini made a practical choice with the redesigned 2025 Countryman. It’s bigger than the old one, having grown four inches taller, an inch wider, and a whopping six inches longer front-to-back. That makes the redesigned Countryman roughly the same size as a Ford Bronco Sport. For the first time, Mini has a small SUV in its lineup. And having driven two versions of it, I think the all-electric version makes more sense than any internal-combustion variant—with some caveats.

[Full Disclosure: BMW Group flew me business-class out of the dreary cold of New York in February to a coastal resort in Cascais, Portugal, to drive two new BMWs and two Mini models as part of a whirlwind press event.]

Gallery: 2025 Mini Countryman SE First Drive

The vehicle you see here is the 2025 Mini Countryman SE ALL4; the “E” in that model name denotes this as the all-electric variant. Like the Cooper SE, but bigger. On the same trip, I drove the JCW Countryman, powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, as well as the new BMW X2 M35i, built on a version of the platform underneath the new Countryman.

Eventually, there will be a gasoline-powered 2025 Countryman S, but that model was not included at this media event. This is the first time Mini has offered an EV version of its biggest vehicle, and while it’s built to accommodate internal-combustion drivetrains, in my short time with the JCW and the SE, I found the all-electric Countryman to be the more sensible of the two.

The Countryman SE gets all-wheel drive via dual electric motors, one at each axle, pumping out a total of 313 hp and 364 lb-ft of torque. That’s impressively close to the snorty JCW, which just about matches the SE on horsepower but falls short by nearly 70 lb-ft of torque. Mini estimates the all-electric Countryman SE will do 0-62 mph in 5.6 seconds, just two-tenths slower than the JCW.

2024 Mini Countryman SE First Drive Review

The 66-kWh battery adds considerable heft to the Countryman, which weighs in at a shade over 4,400 pounds, roughly 740 pounds more than the JCW. US range estimates weren’t available at the time of writing, but the Countryman SE is rated at 269 miles under Europe’s WLTP test cycle. A US-based Mini representative told me this would likely equate to around 245 miles under the tougher EPA test. That’s a considerable improvement over the smaller Cooper SE’s 114-mile range. The Countryman SE will offer plug-and-charge capability when it arrives in US dealers this September, and Mini estimates it will charge from 10 percent to 80 percent in less than 30 minutes when using a 130-kW DC fast charger. The new Countryman is the first Mini model to offer Level 2 partially-automated driving assistance, including automatic lange-changes under suitable highway conditions.

I only spent one afternoon driving the Countryman SE, but on the winding coastal roads of southwest Portugal, it was surprisingly peppy, with strong acceleration from a stop to highway speeds. Compared to the performance-oriented JCW Countryman, which blared an overwrought synthetic engine note from its speakers under hard driving, the SE’s near-silent drivetrain highlighted major improvements in eliminating wind and road noise. On a smooth freeway, the electric Countryman is luxuriously hushed.

2024 Mini Countryman SE First Drive Review

Mini raised the Countryman’s ride height by nearly an inch to move the model into small-SUV territory. Coupled with the SE’s somewhat portly curb weight, this could have made for a slightly seasick experience on curvy roads, but the big electric Mini showed a nice mix of ride comfort and body control. The damping is progressive, soft over small road imperfections but firm enough to minimize body roll on sweeping curves. Mini loves a quick steering rack, and the electric Countryman’s 14.7-to-1 steering ratio is just on the polite side of darty. Coupled with the brisk acceleration, the energetic steering makes the SE far more sporty than your run-of-the-mill utility box, though you won’t get an ounce of feedback or feel from the electric-assist tiller.

Inside, the textile-upholstered dashboard is an exercise in minimalism that doesn’t quite pay off. Aesthetically, I love the simplicity of the design, with a small collection of controls where you’d typically find a center stack. You use physical buttons and toggles to turn the car on, select your gear, engage the parking brake and adjust the stereo volume. Everything else is operated through the enormous circular OLED touchscreen, which in my experience, wasn’t quite up to the job.

2024 Mini Countryman SE First Drive Review

That dinner-plate display has to cram in a speedometer, battery gauge, range estimator, climate controls, navigation map, infotainment functions, and lord knows what else. On the go, it feels like information overload. My pre-production vehicle also had a frustrating amount of lag for any touch-operated functions, and the GPS icon was running a good 20 yards behind our actual location, which made for a few wrong turns in unfamiliar Portuguese towns. Some of this may be due to early-build software or a spotty data connection, but I think I’d be frustrated by the overstuffed display even if it was operating perfectly. (Thankfully, the driver’s head-up display shows speed, battery status, and navigation directly ahead.)

My only other gripe with the Countryman SE had to do with regenerative braking. Most drive modes revert to an “adaptive” regen setting, which promises to adjust up or down based on the distance to other cars, navigation data and who-knows-what-else. In my short stint with the SE, I found it to be maddeningly unpredictable. Thankfully, you can specify your own regen setting with a few prods of the touchscreen, and Go-Kart Mode (Mini’s name for sport mode) always offers full-strength regen with no adaptive nonsense.

2024 Mini Countryman SE First Drive Review

If you don’t mind the cutesy screen—or if you like how it changes font, color scheme and layout with each of the eight driving modes—I think the electric drivetrain makes the Countryman SE more playfully charming than most other EVs in this size category. Like the legendary Mini of the 1960s, the electric Countryman’s fun-to-drive personality is inherent in how it was built. Lively acceleration, all-wheel-drive grip, and a low center of gravity are all part and parcel of the EV drivetrain. The JCW’s fun comes from upgrades and additions; the SE is fun to drive because it’s fun to drive. And when you’re not interested in driving yourself, the optional Level 2 assisted driving feature proved unobtrusive and trustworthy on my short highway jaunt.

I enjoyed my day with the Countryman SE, but we’ll need more data before we can convincingly compare it to the rest of the electric SUV market. Mini says the 2025 Countryman SE will start at $46,195 when it hits dealerships this fall. That’s strong money for a small crossover, especially one that might not give you a full 250 miles of battery range. But if a fun drive is more important to you than a long one, the Countryman might just charm you.

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