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Vauxhall Ampera: Test Drive Review

Date: 12 April 2012   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Category: Upper medium
P11D price: £37,195
Key rival: Toyota Prius Plug-in

The much-hyped Vauxhall Ampera is now finally available to order and offers the most realistic alternative-fuel solution yet to business drivers.

The plug-in hybrid drivetrain has a potential 50-mile electric-only range and it's good for another 310 miles courtesy of a conventional 1.4-litre petrol engine. That does away with the range anxiety associated with full EVs and renders the Ampera a far more practical all-round concept.

It is as conventional as any automatic car in operation, but there are a number of futuristic touches inside such as a touch-screen-style dash facia and artificial powering up and powering down noises whenever the driver switches the ignition on or off.

It's also exceptionally refined, regardless of whether you're travelling in full electric mode or on petrol, and the transition between the two is seamless. It may not be engaging to drive but comfort levels match the refinement, and the combined power of the engine and the electric drivetrain is sufficient to render the Vauxhall rapid given its weight and proportions.

Make the most of the electric power and you're looking at 235mpg and 27g/km. Incredible though that may seem, business drivers covering an above-average mileage won't see those benefits because they would be relying on petrol far more than electric power, so clean diesels still make more sense in this instance. Those with an average commute and a nominal amount of long journeys stand to reap huge savings, though.

KwikCarcost's figures as quoted in our table, right, don't take into account the Government's £5000 plug-in car grant, so an accurate whole-life costs figure is likely to be around or lower than 52 pence per mile, bringing the Ampera into line with key rivals such as the Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius.

Even with the grant, a P11D in excess of £30,000 for a non-premium, upper medium model with four seats is hard to swallow, but Vauxhall plans to release an entry-level Ampera in the summer with a P11D of just under £30,000.

It won't meet every business car user's requirements, but for those that it does, the Ampera could revolutionise corporate driving - providing the mileage and the usage is right.

Vauxhall Ampera Positiv
P11D price£37,195
Model price range£37,195-£38,940
Residual value35.6%
National Insurance£1027
Cost per mile60.7p
Fuel consumption235mpg
CO2 (tax) 27g/km (5%)
BIK 20/40% per month£62/£124
Service interval20,000miles
Insurance (1-50)group 20
Boot space300/1005 litres
Engine size/power999cc/150hp
Top speed/0-62mph105mph/8.7secs
On sale April 2012
VerdictA true game-changer
but steep P11D counts
against it


A true game-changer but steep P11D counts against it