Half a year of sampling real life with the Vauxhall Ampera car has been revealing. It’s fair to say I’d still happily recommend the plug-in range-extender to anyone able to charge it every 50 or so miles, as after that the economy really starts sliding away, although your perception of what is an acceptable fuel economy figure rapidly becomes warped in the Ampera.

Once the battery has run out, which I generally found would happen up to the 40-mile mark [1] (although with gentle treatment in favourable, warmer conditions over 50 is possible), the default 250-plus mpg readout on the central screen starts dropping quickly, and it’s upsetting to see it fall below 100mpg, because you forget that a 60-mile journey averaging 100mpg is actually quite impressive.

We ran a few tanks on unleaded fuel to see what economy can be expected on longer runs where the 1.4-litre petrol engine is utilised without first draining the battery, and an average of 45.1mpg is more than acceptable.

Without this experiment, we would have managed an average of 137.7mpg rather than the eventual 97mpg, although the main portion of driving was a 35-mile mixed-drive commute, and the car was charged both at home and work.

As a high, we managed a 204.1mpg average over 725 miles, and used 16.2 litres, or just over £20, of fuel.

The extra price of the Ampera over the likes of a VW Golf soon starts paying for itself if your journey patterns can replicate that sort of return. As much as I’m keen to shower the impressive tech with praise, the car isn’t perfect.

For a start, having to muck around in the rain plugging the car in or dragging a wet cable into the boot – I never once rolled it up properly as you should – does get wearing, and the aerodynamic strut across the back window limits visibility as it does in the likes of a Honda Civic.

To drive, although the Ampera is pleasingly ordinary in a good way, the ride is too harsh, and accelerating across any sort of bump in the road sees the traction control make one of its frequent intrusions.

The boot is also too small at 300 litres [2], while an Astra offers 351 litres, and although the switchgear looks good, it is fiddly to use, especially on the move. Plus, the DAB radio ‘lost’ Absolute Radio 90s – my digital station of choice – about three months in and didn’t find it again.

I also didn’t bother with faffing around registering for public charging points, preferring to charge just at home and work, although I did find the occasional free station, such as at a Best Western hotel [3]. However, while the tax incentives will diminish slightly in 2015, a 40% tax payer will still be paying BIK of less than £60 per month.

If the maths stack up on mileage, then the Ampera is a very cost-effective, good looking, refined and efficient way of travelling.