THE FORD F-150 pick-up is to Texas what I expect the Mini Countryman hybrid will soon be to the London Borough of Islington. Compact, reassuringly expensive at £31,585 before options, SUV-shaped, posh inside and with zero emissions outside (sometimes), the Mini Countryman looks like catnip for the middle-class urbanite.

Its too-good-to-be-true spec - 49g/km of CO2, official fuel consumption of 134.5mpg and up to 25 miles of pure electric range - is courtesy of an electric drive unit that surrounds the rear axle, with its motor, single-speed transmission and batteries under the back seat. So the Mini PHEV is rear-drive in pure electric Auto eDrive mode, one of three modes accessible by a toggle switch by the starter button. You get all the EV virtues: punchy acceleration accompanied by that electric motor slide-whistle soundtrack, blissful peace and quiet while chaos reigns in the urban jungle outside. At the opposite end is the 1.5-litre turbocharged triple spinning the front wheels through a crisp six-speed Steptronic automatic.

The integration of the two drive units is as rapid and slick as a Dynamo magic trick: it’s hard to keep track of whether the Mini’s pushing or pulling when Max eDrive mode mates the two. But the crucial thing is that the hybrid drives like a true Mini, carving through bends with trademark agility and zero wallow, the rear motor at times pivoting you into corners. To get sufficient weight and responsiveness into the steering, you’ll need to select Sport mode.

If you’re expecting me to go all Kim Kardashian with a big but, I’ll have to disappoint you. There’s sufficient space for adults in the rear seats, and while the boot has shed 45 litres below the false floor and the rear seat squabs no longer slide, neither is a deal-breaker.

Indeed, throw in the £2500 government subsidy, Congestion Charge exemption, a full charge in just over three hours and a projected 310-mile range, and you have the ideal car for Ipswich or Inverness, let alone Islington.