Mini to overland the Pan-American Highway with special Countryman plug-in
As it moves closer to launching a fully electric production car, Mini is having some fun with electricity. It's added battery power to a classic Cooper for the 2018 New York International Auto Show, where it's also showing a very different electrified model. After spending some time at Jacob Javits, the specially prepared Mini Countryman Panamericana plug-in hybrid will embark on an adventurous journey from Texas to the tip of South America.
This year's NY Auto Show is full of SUVs and pickup trucks of every size and power level. Who would have thought the one going on the biggest post-show adventure would be a hybrid Mini Countryman? But it seems like that's how it'll play out.
The Panamericana is a lightly ruggedized version of the Cooper SE Countryman ALL4. It's not exactly John Cooper Works Buggy rugged, but it has been equipped with auxiliary lights, tires with emergency running characteristics, and a roof rack for hauling a spare wheel. It also has a custom North/South America paint job tying into its mission.
One of the world's greatest roads and vehicular adventures, the Pan-American Highway is a route from the northern reaches of North America in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to the southernmost tip of South America. Mini doesn't plan to complete the entirety of the route, instead getting started in Dallas, Texas this July as a tie-in with its "Mini Takes the States 2018" biennial owners' rally. It will travel southward through Mexico and into Central and South America, all the way to Tierra del Fuego.
Besides just being a pretty damn cool promotional trip for those involved, Mini's overland voyage will serve to demonstrate the efficiency, reliability and long-distance touring performance of its plug-in hybrid powertrain. The Countryman plug-in will allow for zero emissions driving for Mini-estimated 25-mile (40-km) stints before the 1.5-liter turbo engine kicks back in to maintain the continuity of the ride. The combination of gas engine and electric drive puts out 221 hp (165 kW) and powers all four wheels in an intelligent AWD.
Mini will send three Countryman Panamericanas on the trip, which will include developed highway, gravel road, mountain passages and a brief water passage around the notorious Darien Gap on the Panama/Colombia border. The journey kicks off on July 15, and Mini will broadcast imagery from the road via its Instagram news channel.