I FIRST drove an electrified car just over 20 years ago and it felt new and exciting, a sign of things to come.
The revolution certainly hasn't happened overnight but there is now a multitude of hybrids - both ‘self-charging' or plug-in on our roads.
There are also several fully electric cars too, but the SEAT Mii Electric was the first I've spent more than a couple of hours in. Would I, a complete petrolhead, manage? Would I even like it?
A city car like its pretrol-engined predecessors, the Mii Electric is the first chapter in SEAT's electrification programme. I
t's motor, linked to a single-speed transmission, provides its 82bhp of power and 212Nm of torque instantly, meaning the five-door car can reach 31mph from a standstill in a ridiculously quick 3.9 seconds.
The Mii's 36.8kWh lithium-ion battery pack - cleverly packaged under the floor so it doesn't take up precious boot space - provides up to 160 miles of range from a single charge, and over 200 if you restrict yourself to just urban driving. Rapid charging (DC at 40kW) to 80 per cent takes an hour - about the same time as an average smartphone - while using an AC 7.2kW home charger takes four hours to reach the same level.
It's priced from Â£21,300 including the Government's Plug-in Car Grant, or Â£22,800 on-the-road without, so it's not what you'd call cheap, but it is one of the most affordable electric vehicles on the market.
There are no trim levels, nor is there a lengthy list of options, but there is plenty of standard equipment including metallic paint, dark tinted windows, Lane Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, rear parking sensors, 16-inch alloy wheels, and cruise control.
Also included are rain-sensing wipers, a leather-covered steering wheel, air conditioning, dark-tinted rear windows, heated front seats, ambient lighting, and Hill Hold Control to stop you from drifting backwards on uphill junctions.
There's a five-inch centre-dash infotainment screen with Bluetooth connectivity and DAB, but noticeably, there's no flashy touchscreen to distract you, just a handy smartphone cradle with conveniently-placed USB port so you can choose your own navigation system.
The dashboard dials are analogue too, though, instead of fuel gauge and rev counter, there's now a power meter and a dial showing the level of charge.
The all-electric city car is also the first model to include SEAT Connect, giving remote access and management of the vehicle. Customers can review driving data, parking position, vehicle status including doors and lights, and have the ability to control air-conditioning remotely, all from their smartphone app.
Given its tiny footprint, the Mii is surprisingly spacious inside. There's plenty of room up front and adults will be fine in the back as long as you're not planning on a long trek. There's also a 250-litre boot, with a false floor under which the charging cables can be stored.
Crucially, the Mii is fun to drive too - it's simply great whizzing around town, its natural environment, especially with that instant power on tap. Easy to park too. Venture out of town and it remains sure-footed and solid, riding bumpy country roads much better than you'd expect. It holds its own on the motorway too, though I wouldn't fancy tackling Plymouth to London to often. And, while it will easily reach 70mph, this does hit efficiency hard.
Naturally these days, the Mii electric comes with ‘modes'. Eco mode restricts power to 67bhp to ensure a longer range, while Eco+ limits you to just 53bhp, cuts your top speed to 59mph and entirely disables the airconditioning.
Some will just stick the transmission in ‘B', which produces maximum regeneration but slows the car so much you rarely need to touch the brakes. Apart from on the steepest of hills, it wasn't for me though. However, I did find myself being more thoughtful about my driving - no bad thing.