Mini has branched out into vans, scramblers and cars with their hats backwards, but it hasn't dipped into the hybrid pool. That's set to change when the Mini Plug-In Hybrid launches. It's not quite ready for public consumption, but the company has given a peek behind the development curtain, explaining how the electric motor and internal-combustion engine will interact.
Plug-in hybrid powertrains are becoming increasingly popular, because they combine the best of the electric and internal-combustion worlds. Drivers can cruise around town with no local emissions, before hitting the highway and enjoying the range of a petrol car. Adding a battery and motor to an internal-combustion engine also has performance benefits, allowing for a brief e-boost when the driver puts their foot down.
The hybrid setup in the Mini will be very similar to the setup on plug-in BMW offerings, which means there will be a number of drive modes on offer. In its default setting, the car will automatically choose where power should come from, switching between the rear-wheel mounted electric motor and the internal-combustion engine powering the front wheels.
Switching to Save Battery runs the car purely on the internal combustion engine, preserving the battery charge for later on, while Max eDrive runs the car purely on electric power at speeds up to 125 km/h (78 mph). Auto eDrive runs purely on electric power, but limits that top speed to 80 km/h (50 mph).
As yet, there's no word on the total electric range on offer from the batteries under the rear seats.
Inside, there's not going to be much setting the Mini Hybrid apart from petrol or diesel cars. A power display sits in place of the rev counter, but that's basically the only change of substance. It's a similar story on the outside, where a flap hiding the electric plug socket is the only major giveaway that Mini has mentioned thus far.
As yet, there's no word on when the Mini Hybrid will hit the market, but it should be soon. Rumors suggested it would be uncovered at the Paris Motor Show, but with that opportunity gone we'll be keeping a close eye out in the lead up to Christmas.