Vauxhall Ampera information: everything you need to know if you own it, are thinking of buying one or just want to find out more about the electric range-extender saloon. Click on the links below for all of CAR magazine’s news, reviews, videos, scoops and spy photos of the Ampera car range.
The Ampera is a hybrid, but one with a difference. It’s a range-extender electric car, which means its electric motor is always the bit driving the wheels. The motor takes its energy from lithium-ion batteries, which can be pre-charged from the mains, and when they’re depleted beyond a certain level a good old-fashioned petrol engine cuts in – but to charge the batteries, not drive the wheels. The Ampera has a sister car, the Chevrolet Volt, developed concurrently by GM. It’s a four-seater rather than a five as the battery pack extends into the transmission tunnel and intersects the rear seats. For more information on the Vauxhall Ampera, click on our further stories on the links below.
60sec road test
Quite a significant car, the Ampera. Back when it hit the market in 2012 it was the UK’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle. It’s an incredibly easy and surprisingly relaxing car to drive, making quiet and serene progress. It’s not at all an engaging driving experience – quite the opposite in fact, and none the worse for it. There is one interruption to the tranquillity, though: the world’s worst designed centre console. Rather than conventional switches, or a touchscreen, it’s fitted with a collection touch-sensitive braille-style lumps, all of which are exactly the same size and shape so pressing the control you’re after is something of a lottery on first acquaintance. That’s missing the point, though. The Ampera is an impressive piece of engineering and could theoretically stand up as your only car. Buying one would be a very brave decision though, especially given the present pace of development in electric vehicles.
The one we’d buy
There are two trim levels, Positiv and Electron. One has less kit and costs less, the other has more and costs more. Take your pick
The one we’d avoid like the plague
Rivals to consider
BMW i3, Chevrolet Volt (although it’s no longer on sale), Nissan Leaf, Renault Fluence
No range anxiety (though it will go into a reduced-performance mode if the batteries are thoroughly drained), tranquil driving experience
Pace of development in EV world means this could become yesterday’s car before too long