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Vauxhall Ampera: Test Drive

Date: 27 July 2011   |   Author: Rachel Burgess

Category: Lower medium
P11D price: £28,995
Key rival: Toyota Prius

With an array of electric vehicles launching this year, the Vauxhall Ampera, due in 2012, might be the first viable option for many business drivers thanks to its extended range.

The car runs on purely electric for up to 50 miles, before a 1.4-litre 86hp petrol engine cuts in, allowing distances of up to 310 miles. Vauxhall is keen to accentuate this is not a hybrid - it differs, apparently, because a hybrid is mainly a combustion engine supported by a small electric generator while the Ampera has a "large powerful electric engine, with the range extender kicking in from a small combustion engine". Indeed, hybrids tend only to use electric at start-up or at very low speeds for a maximum of a couple of miles, so there is certainly a differentiation.

As the range is less than other electric vehicles, for example the Nissan Leaf, and is supported by the petrol powertrain, the Ampera can be recharged in only four hours using a conventional 13-amp home power outlet.

The Ampera comes at a price - £28,995 after the £5000 Government subsidy - though it's currently exempt from?BIK?tax, and is well specified. The battery is included in the price too, and is also covered by a 60,000km (37,282 miles)/eight-year warranty. The overall car also has Vauxhall's so-called 'Lifetime Warranty'.

Driving the car is a pleasure, with little difference between it and a conventionally powered engine. And it's near impossible to notice the change when the car switches from electric to petrol, although naturally it is a little noisier. Handling and ride appeared excellent considering there were no tight corners or rough road surfaces on the test route.

There are four driving modes to choose from: normal, sport, mountain?(for extra power in tough terrain) and hold, which allows the use of the petrol engine straight away, saving the electric power for later. Vauxhall cites the possibility of saving electric use for an emission-free zones as a good example of how this feature could be employed.

For fleets, there's no doubt the car makes a lot of sense. The price is the only sticking point. Compare it with a Nissan Leaf, which costs £25,935 (after grant), or a Toyota Prius at £23,990 and it clearly loses out. Whole-life costs for the Ampera aren't yet available, but if we compare the Leaf's 50.3 pence per mile against a trusty VW Golf Bluemotion 1.6-litre TDI at 43.5p, it's likely the VW will also outpoint the Ampera. Still, it's early days for the new generation of electric vehicles and the evolution of the Ampera should be watched closely.

Vauxhall Ampera
P11D price £28,995
(after Govt. subsidy)
Model price range£28,995
Fuel consumption175mpg*
CO2 (tax) 39g/km* (0%)
BIK 20/40% per month£0/£0
Electric motor range 50 miles
Electric motor111kW
Boot space (min/max)330/680 litres
Top speed/0-62mph100mph/9.0secs (est.)
On saleSpring 2012
VerdictA promising option
for the electric revolution
but pricey


A promising option for the electric revolution but pricey