7 Nov 2012

Vauxhall Ampera short review

Sharon Endacotte recently went for a spin in the Vauxhall Ampera.  Here are her thoughts on Vauxhall's hybrid EV.

I’ve driven quite a few EVs since the Nissan LEAF hit the market last year. Some have been engaging, some rather fun and some (I’m looking at you, Mia microbus) hilariously random – but all of them have had one thing in common: range anxiety.

The Vauxhall Ampera is the first full EV that gets around this problem, extending its range with an onboard petrol motor that charges the battery, only ever powering the wheels in a supporting capacity at the furthest extent of the car’s capability. This really is a workable solution to the range problem, combining the benefits of electric motoring with the convenience of the ICE. The question is, is it any good as a car?

It certainly works. It looks good too, in a striking, rather than beautiful, way. The Ampera feels quick off the mark, having the characteristic torquiness of other EVs, and it is simple enough to drive too, which is always reassuring with new technology.

However, I couldn’t get past the overall impression that I was just driving another Vauxhall. There’s nothing wrong with that, but in such difficult times, £30,000 is a lot to pay for ‘adequate’. There’s less space than you might expect from the outside too, as there’s no middle seat in the back, and while the handling is good enough, it’s not exactly going to set the world on fire.

Then again, given the environmental concerns that have brought about its creation, maybe that’s just as well.

Vauxhall Ampera: the numbers

Range (battery) 40 miles
Range (extended) up to 360 miles, but seems to average around 300
0 – 60mph <9 br="br" seconds="seconds">Top Speed 100mph
MPG: up to 235mpg, but seems to average around 175mpg
Price: from around £30,000