Opel Ampera-e plugs away at testing before 2017 launch

Published: 06 July 2016

► European version of Chevy Bolt
► All-electric practical hatchback
► On sale 2017, specific markets TBC

This isn’t a Chevy Bolt. Not quite, anyway – it’s the new Opel Ampera-e, the European-spec version of GM’s new all-electric hatchback. CAR’s spies have spotted it testing in Germany.

Hasn’t there been a car called the Opel Ampera before?

Indeed there has, and it was on sale in the UK between 2012 and 2015 – read CAR’s original review here.

It had a 1.4-litre petrol engine, although it was used primarily to maintain the battery’s charge rather than drive the car’s wheels. Electric-only range was around 40 miles, and around another 310 miles in ‘E-REV’ mode.

The new Ampera-e, however, is a pure electric vehicle – there’s no generator on board this time.

Was the original Vauxhall Ampera too clever, too early? Read CAR’s analysis here

So what’s new with the Ampera-e, apart from the extra letter, and the lack of an engine?

It’s a five-door, five-seater with a smaller footprint than the original saloon-style Ampera. It’s now more of a high-roofed city car/mini MPV in shape, and will be a more practical car as a result. The flat battery pack is mounted beneath the interior floor, and the car’s been packaged with maximum interior and luggage space in mind.

A single electric motor drives the front wheels, and adjustable regenerative braking helps the battery recuperate some charge on the move. The Chevrolet Bolt claims a 200-mile range in optimum conditions, and 0-60mph in around 7sec.

Opel promises the Ampera-e will major on affordable pricing when it goes on sale in 2017, with the company’s ‘OnStar’ on-board Wi-Fi and emergency assistance services standard.

Will there be a Vauxhall version on sale in the UK?

That’s yet to be confirmed officially. While the Opel Ampera-e will definitely launch in Europe, but the markets in which it will be sold are still being determined. That’s the official line, anyway.

Click here for CAR magazine’s original Vauxhall Ampera vs BMW i3 twin test

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer