We’ve been driving a Vauxhall Ampera Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV) for four weeks. Now that it’s gone, what do we miss about it? And could we live with one for a longer period of time?
One of the main appeals of the Ampera is that it offers the joy of driving without any using any petrol or diesel. This is appealing from an environmental point of view, but that argument won’t work for everyone. However gliding along in near silence without having to visit garages to buy fuel should be a liberating experience for many people.
Of course, the whole point of the Ampera is that you can also use the car if you need to drive from Manchester to London – something we had to do twice during our time with the vehicle. And yes, to do this you need to use petrol. But if you have a pattern that primarily involves drives of between 30 and 40 miles between recharging, then you could do most of your motoring on electric power. When we did this, we achieved over 100mpg.
If you do drive the Ampera on the motorway then you may be pleasantly surprised. It’s very planted and comfortable, and it’s quiet and refined unless you really ask a lot of the car. Of course, as it’s essentially an automatic, it’s easy to drive.
The Ampera is also a five-door hatchback, so as long as you don’t need five seats, it’s practical. It’s well-equipped and has lots of features accessible via its touch screen, although we’d prefer to see a dashboard with conventional buttons rather than the touch-sensitive plastic centre console.
So, in summary, the Ampera is a pioneer. It was the first Extended-Range Electric Vehicle designed for the mass-market. Some people may not be comfortable with change, but four weeks with the Ampera has shown that there’s nothing to fear; it’s a perfectly straightforward and pleasant car to drive and to own.
People tend to compare the Ampera with, for example, cars such as an Astra, and conclude that the Ampera is expensive. However this is an unfair comparison, as you also need to take running costs into consideration. There are a number of individual factors that make the Ampera an appealing economic purchase, and if more than one of these items relates to you, then it looks even more attractive. So if you can mostly drive using the battery, if the car is used for business, and/or you regularly drive into the London Congestion Charge zone, then you should take a serious look at the Ampera. The government will even give you £5,000 towards the purchase price, and you should be able to get a home charging point for free or at least very low cost. Because the Ampera has a petrol engine as well as an electric motor, you don’t need to worry about the public recharging infrastructure.
Could we live with an Ampera? It’s a simple answer: yes. As much as a pure electric car would be ideal for local journeys, regular trips around the UK to car launches mean that a pure EV would be no good for us. However a car that does local journeys on electric power and longer journeys on petrol power would be ideal. And when petrol prices resume their upward trajectory, as is forecast, then more and more people are also likely to see the benefits offered by the Ampera.
Model/Engine size: Vauxhall Ampera Electron
Fuel: Petrol-Electric Hybrid
Fuel economy combined: 235.4 mpg* see text
Electricity consumption: 130 – 260 Wh/km (25 – 50 mile range)
Battery pack: 16 kWh (10.4 kWh usable) lithium-ion
Recharge time: 240v, 6 hours or 4 hours with 16 Amps home charger
Fuel economy, extra urban: 217.3 mpg
Fuel economy, urban: 313.9 mpg
CO2 emissions: 27 g/km
Green rating: VED band A
Weight: 1689 Kg
Company car tax liability: 5%
Price: £30,495 (including £5,000 Government grant)
Insurance group: 21 E
Power: 152 bhp
Max speed: 100 mph
0-62mph: 8.7 seconds
Euro 6: No