Not what you'd call Mini: The huge third-generation Countryman SUV revealed

A new and greener version of the biggest and beefiest Mini is launched today for families who want a compact car that doesn’t skimp on space. But for small families and active couples who want to squeeze in lots of kit, it’s the most practical of the Mini range – and still with go-kart like performance for less than £24,000. While it might carry the Mini name, it doesn't share the original's dimensions, with the new Countryman measuring in at 4.3-metres long and over 2-metres wide.  For those who want to save on fuel costs and keep their emissions down there’s a frugal petrol-electric plug-in hybrid version which combines a three-cylinder 1.5-litre twin turbo petrol engine driving the front wheels with an electric motor on the rear axle and a high-voltage 9.6kWh lithium-ion battery. You can charge up at home or work and run in electric only mode for up to 38 miles, while still having the benefit of an internal combustion engine and all-wheel drive as standard. There are seven variants of the Countryman at launch, with manual and automatic gearboxes, and a sporty tweaked John Cooper Works version to follow. Instead it is built under contract at VDL Nedcar, at Born, in The Netherlands Prices start at £23,500 for the entry-level manual 136 horse-power petrol Mini Cooper Countryman that accelerates from rest to 62mph in 9.7 seconds up to a top speed of 127mph. Priced from £32,400, the 220 horse-power petrol-electric Mini Cooper Countryman Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) ALL4 accelerates from rest to 62mph in 6.8 seconds up to a top speed of 121mph. The latter Countryman D ALL4’s 150 horse-power diesel engine helps it accelerate from 0 to 62mph in 9 seconds up to a top speed of 131mph, CO2 emissions are 4.6g to 4.8g/km with fuel economy of around 60 miles per gallon. A new central instrument in Piano Black high gloss is also available among trim options and there is an extended range of Mini accessories. It received a facelift in 2014 and a second generation version was launched in 2017 along with a plug in hybrid (PHEV) model. The firm said: ‘The Mini Countryman, the biggest and most versatile member of the Mini model family, has an updated design, additions to the equipment range and new innovative technology. ‘The car’s upright stature and increased ground clearance indicate its generous interior space and robust character.