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Vauxhall Ampera: Test Drive Review

Date: 14 July 2010   |   Author: Rachel Burgess

Vauxhall Ampera
Category: Upper medium
P11D price: £30,000* (est.)
Key rival: Toyota Prius

The Ampera, Vauxhall's extended range electric vehicle, will rival other viable five-door green cars such as the Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius when it arrives in the UK.

However, it's not due here until February 2012, so in the meantime BusinessCar was given access to the latest prototype, which closely resembles the production vehicle. The space-age exterior is attractive, with stand-out features such as the front and rear lights marking its presence. The interior, so far, looks simple and neat with a large paddle auto shift gearstick. Trims are not yet decided, so the prototype's tacky plastic will be removed for the final version.

It still takes a while to adjust to an almost-silent vehicle and the distinct lack of revs as the car moves off, but this will become less noticeable as BusinessCar tests more and more electric vehicles. Power, too, is instantaneous, but get used to these aspects and it's as straightforward to drive as any car. Handling is good and steering seems the perfect balance between light and heavy.

The extended range of 310 miles comes from a 1.4-litre petrol engine, which kicks in after the 40 miles of pure electric power has run out. Research shows that 80% of Europeans drive less than 30 miles a day, says Vauxhall, so for most people the electric motor is sufficient as they can recharge overnight. The switch to petrol is almost seamless when driving the Ampera, aside from a little more noise and a dashboard control telling you it's happened.

Between both electric and petrol power, the car does around 175mpg and emits less than 40g/km CO2, meaning the lowest BIK tax band is halved to 5%. On electric power alone, Ampera energy costs would be a fifth of those on a traditional 1.4-litre petrol car, says the carmaker.

The car will cost around £30,000 before £5000 Government incentives (assuming the present coalition maintain the subsidy), making this fairly affordable. A spokesman said Vauxhall won't make any money on the car for a while at this price but is investing for "the long term".

While no sales figures have been determined, Vauxhall expects the UK to sell the highest volume in Europe with a 70% fleet mix.

For the moment, this car seems the perfect solution for environmentally friendly cost-aware drivers with 'range anxiety' created by typical EVs. With such reduced running costs and expected good RVs, this would be a wise choice for fleet operators.

Vauxhall Ampera
Fuel consumption175mpg
CO2 (tax)40g/km
BIK 20%/40%£25/£50*
Range40 miles electric,
310 miles combined
Top speed/0-62mph100mph/9secs
On saleFebruary 2012
VerdictA sensible, exciting solution to
the problem of traditional EVs


A sensible, exciting solution to the problem of traditional EVs