MORE and more motorists are making the switch to eco driving, according to Volkswagen which is seeing a surge in sales of its electrified vehicles.
The German car maker now sells battery powered versions of the up! city car and the stalwart Golf hatchback as well as offering plug-in hybrid powertrains on the Golf and the larger Passat.
And with its sights set on dominating the emerging market for electric vehicles - or EVs as they are known - it intends to be selling a million a year within the next decade.
While it may still be embroiled in litigation over the so-called cheat device fitted to some of its diesel models, VW is pushing hard to champion low emission motoring.
Already this year sales of the Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Golf GTE have surged by more than 200 per cent in the UK to some 3,200 models and demand for the pure battery powered e-Golf is also rising.
The trick, it appears, has been to couch an electric vehicle in a familiar body shape and not make drivers seek out futuristic designs to go green.
The electric Golf for example is just as user-friendly as the regular petrol and diesel models - perhaps with the exception of less boot space.
That is needed to accommodate the battery packs required to power both the e-Golf and the GTE which reduces cargo space by around half from 605 litres on a regular Golf to 343 litres on the e-Golf and 272 litres on the GTE.
The e-Golf has been around since 2013 and has just been given a power hike, increasing its real world range on a single charge to around 120 miles, up from 90 miles.
Priced from £27,690 including the £4,500 government grant for low emission vehicles the e-Golf makes a fine fist of everyday motoring.
EVs are very much horses for courses and if your daily demands are more than a 40 mile commute they are not likely to fit the bill.
For greater distances it's the plug-in hybrids which come into their own and offer the best of both worlds - low emissions and no worry about running out of battery power.
In the Golf line up, the GTE is slightly more expensive than the e-Golf with two versions available from £28,145 and £29,645, the latter in high specification Advance trim.
Because it is not a zero emission vehicle like the e-Golf (although both are exempt from congestion charges), the GTE attracts only a Â£2,500 government grant and it is also more expensive to run as there's a petrol engine under the bonnet which needs refuelling.
Nevertheless, the GTE is highly economical. Officially it is rated at 156.9mpg with a CO2 figure of 40g/km but realistically that figure is meaningless because of the way a PHEV works.
Its powertrain comprises a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine hooked up to a 75kw electric motor and together they deliver a healthy 204ps - that's a third more power than you'd get from the petrol engine alone.
It can run as an EV, a hybrid with both power sources engaged or mainly on the petrol engine. The choice is down to the driver.
In EV mode the GTE has a claimed range of 31 miles of emission free motoring but left to its own devices and run as a hybrid the results are very impressive.
We managed an average close on 70mpg and the performance is akin to that of VW's hot diesel Golf, the GTD.
The GTE is fitted with a six-speed dual clutch semi-automatic transmission which with steering wheel paddle shifters allows for plenty of driver input.
Top speed is a claimed 138mph, the 0 to 60 acceleration is a brisk 7.6 seconds and the GTE handles as well as any other Golf.
There's also a sports mode available - VW calls it the GTE mode - which gets the best from the performance while generating a throaty roar from the exhausts true to hot Golf form.
The fuel tank at nine gallons is smaller than that of a regular Golf yet with the benefit of the PHEV powertrain there's more than enough range on a single fill up to keep most drivers happy.
VW states its official range as 515 miles which is 57.2mpg yet on our evaluation it appears easy to exceed that.
The recharging point for the GTE is behind the VW badge on the front grille and a full charge takes three and three quarter hours from a domestic mains supply or two and a quarter hours from a wallbox.
At current rates a full tank of fuel for the GTE would cost around Â£47 so a ‘refill' of both petrol and electricity is about Â£50.
Using VW's range figures that works out at 10p a mile in fuel costs. Compare that to the e-Golf which has a 100kw motor and a bigger battery pack which takes almost 11 hours to recharge fully from a wallbox at a cost of around Â£4.50, then the cost per mile falls dramatically to around three pence.
From a performance perspective the e-Golf is a revelation. The acceleration is very rapid and feels much more responsive than the 9.6 seconds VW states is the 0 to 60 time which is down to the instant torque available from the electric motor.
Top speed is 93mph and it will hold its own on motorways without sopping up too much power.
We set out with the range showing as 148 miles, covered 41 miles with 36 of those on a motorway and still had 101 miles remaining at journey's end. The energy consumption read out was 3.2kWh which is roughly the equivalent of 90mpg - and that's in a car travelling at speed.
The recharging point on the e-Golf is at the rear of the car where the fuel filler is placed on all other Golfs and apart from the badging and blue highlights in the trim to denote their eco status, both models look no different to any other Golf.
The interiors are just as roomy - it's just the boot that is smaller - and the instrumentation is high tech with a plethora of EV readouts displaying power flow, energy consumption, available range and the like.
The sat navs are also programmed to show real time range and the nearest available charging points if required and there's also a display to explain how to get the best from the powertrain.
The GTE genuinely has wide appeal delivering low emission motoring and top notch performance without any so-called range anxiety.
The e-Golf, like any other pure EV at the moment, is less practical yet beginning to attract a growing number of motorists who have found that electric driving is quite acceptable.
With 23 years to run before the Government plans to make all vehicles electrified in one way or another - which means hybrids will be the norm - the charge has only just begun.