A KEY factor in the success or otherwise of the first electric Mini is whether or not it still feels like a Mini to drive.

The answer is a resounding yes. It performs as well as the petrol models on bending country lanes, grips like glue and retains the go-kart feel that is its hallmark.

With a sprint time of 7.3 seconds from 0 to 62mph that undercuts that of the 1.5-litre petrol Cooper version, it’s very nippy too.

On the downside, the range is only a modest 145 miles, so it remains essentially a city car.

And the price tag of £24,900 may send some potential buyers scurrying back to the petrol pumps.

The Mini Electric is easy to spot thanks to the yellow-painted door mirrors, a yellow band across the grille, small circular badge in yellow and distinctive wheels that again feature touches of yellow.

It is available for now only as a three-door and comes with generous standard equipment that includes a digital dashboard, connected navigation and LED headlights and taillights.

Produced at the Mini plant in Oxford, this latest version of what started out in life as a very affordable little hatchback utilises a battery pack in the floor between the front seats and below the rear seats and an electric motor that has an output of 184bhp.

It makes for a car that is slightly heavier than the equivalent Mini Cooper S, but the Mini Electric has an ace up its sleeve. With a centre of gravity that is at least 30 millimetres lower than in the Mini Cooper S and the reduced weight over the front wheels thanks to the electric motor, close to perfect weight distribution helps it achieve impressive driving dynamics.

The Mini Electric also has a dynamic stability control system which gives excellent traction at set-off and outstanding driving stability in brake energy recovery mode, as well as when accelerating out of tight bends.

There are four driving modes selected via a switch. Sport mode has more direct steering and a more rapid power delivery, Mid setting has less aggressive steering while Green mode saves power and Green+ mode deactivates or limits some functions such as air conditioning to save power and increase range.

A toggle switch provides the choice of intense or low-level power regeneration– regardless of the driving modes - to allow the driver to choose the best setting for their own style of driving. This recharges the battery when the driver lifts off the accelerator, preserving energy, and acts as a braking force.

The Mini Electric has a new digital dashboard with a 5.5-inch colour screen behind the steering wheel. Road speed is shown at the centre in figures with a peripheral scale band, as well as information on the charge level of the battery and the selected driving mode driving mode.

The car comes with both home and public charging cables. At a 50kW DC fast-charging station an 80 per cent charge is reached from zero in 36 minutes. It takes three hours and 12 minutes on a domestic 7.4kW wall box and 12 hours using a three-pin plug socket.

The new digital dashboard provides information on the current flow of energy and the range, as well as offering ways of increasing range by deactivating comfort functions or boosting energy regeneration. On the navigation map, a circle that indicates the car’s range can be shown.

There are three trim levels, with a starting price of £24,900 after the Government plug-in car grant has been applied.

This Mini will not be to everyone’s tastes or needs. It is expensive and its range between charges is limiting. But it retains the Mini’s character and even provides some extra zip. And you will save an awful lot of money on fuel.

At a glance

Mini Electric

Price: from £24,900

Power: Electric motor producing 184bhp

Transmission: Automatic

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 7.3 seconds; top speed limited to 93mph

Range: 145 miles

CO2 emissions: 0g/km

Star ratings

Performance: *****

Economy: *****

Ride/Handling: *****

Space/Practicality: ***

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ***