Better still, you can even make it rear-wheel drive!
For quite some time now, Mini's dabbled with alternative powertrain setups. An all-electric Mini that fed back into the development of the systems used in BMW's i-cars was released a good few years ago, and concept cars like the tiny Rocketman and svelte Superleggera Vision all indicate a more substantial EV future is on the horizon. A surprising omission, though, has been the absence of any hybrids - though that's all about to change rather soon.
Though we've known about Mini's plans on introducing hybrids at some point for some time, we now have official confirmation that a plug-in powertrain is being developed. Specific details on outputs and expected economy benefits are unknown at the moment in time, but what Mini has disclosed does suggest a pretty advanced system is in the works. For instance, the powertrain allows the car to be driven on pure electric power at speeds of up to 78 mph (for reference, the Prius Plug-In is limited to 62 mph in EV mode). Hopefully this also indicates a decent range for the first plug-in hybrid Mini.
Even more interestingly is that electric motors aren't used on all four wheels. Instead, the front wheels are only driven when the internal combustion engine kicks in - thus making this, albeit only in all-electric running, the first ever rear-wheel drive factory Mini. Such a setup does theoretically allow all Mini models to adopt this plug-in powertrain but there's no need to redesign the front to accommodate a pair of electric motors. The fact it's being tested in an SUV does suggest the next generation Countryman will be the first Mini to be offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. So, in other words, expect the first Mini PHEV to arrive in your nearest Mini showroom before the end of next year.