Our trip took place on the short test track with smooth surfaces, tight curves and limited speed opportunities. As the official figure of 0-62 suggests, the A is not model 3 when it comes to performance, but it is more enthusiastic than the Nissan Leaf or the Volkswagen e-Golf out of line, squeaking tires in response to a stamped accelerator despite the control systems attempt to feed on power slowly.

The longest straight of the track was long enough for us to see 130 km/h on the speed display, where the acceleration of the point had been reduced. The refinement is good: there is almost no engine sound and there is little wind or tyre noise, despite the lack of distraction from internal combustion.

The controls are light, with little steering feel and little feedback through the brake pedal, but the responses are precise, the regenerative effect is powerful, and the A feels very easy to operate at the smooth pace normally found in Chinese cities congested by traffic.

The collection of curves and slow forks on the track did nothing to flatter the As modest athleticism, which led to a large amount of body swing, a limited bite on the front and a little steering torque under heavy use, as the 184-pound peak of feet struggled to find traction. Its not that intensive use has many characteristics in the duty cycle of a typical A

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It is much more difficult to find faults in the static attributes of the car. Its a big unit: at 4736mm, its just a little shorter than the Volkswagen Passat, and although the elegant exterior design may lack much visual excitement, it looks elegant and expensive up close.

The interior is really impressive. With a leather steering wheel with a pleasant feel, decent quality plastics and some real metal trims, it feels luxurious. There are two display screens: a small one behind the steering wheel showing the adigital speedometer and the remaining range, plus a large central touch screen for the information and entertainment system. Our test car also had a Head-Up screen, which felt a bit like an information overload.

The perceived quality is as high as that of the Model 3, although the design lacks the minimalist spirit of the Tesla; the volume of the centre console is unjustified, given its modest housing functions of the rotary gear selector.

Standard equipment in China includes an advanced voice recognition system, adaptive cruise control and a battery of safety systems, including automatic braking with pedestrian recognition.

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