Once you've put an all-electric drivetrain into a Mini Cooper, is it that hard to hybridize one? Well, yes, especially since BMW's limited testing program was intended to give the company information about a plug-in architecture. But our spy photographers have discovered what's believed to be the first Mini Cooper prototype fitted with a hybrid drivetrain.
The body certainly looks the same, but – as you can see in our high-resolution gallery – BMW has affixed a sticker in the window that clearly says "hybrid test vehicle." We don't know many details about the powertrain sitting under the bright red paint, but sources indicate that this is a through-the-road hybrid, with the front wheels powered by a normal engine and the rear wheels motivated by an electric motor. Things like displacement, total horsepower and battery size are all as mysterious as they ever were, but rumor has it – no, really this time – that a hybridized Mini will be available when the next-generation arrives in 2013.