Electric cars and hybrids are getting seriously interesting now – new investments made by the Government in charging stations and the advancements made by car manufacturers with fuelling mean that the average motorist is more tempted than ever before to get a car that’s designed to be kind to the environment. Combine that with some of the stunning electric car designs you can get now (the Tesla Model S and BMW i8 being prime examples), and even teenagers are starting to drool over cars that are powered by the same thing as a tablet computer.
But what about electric cars that are a little more down to earth, cars that won’t cost upwards of £50k?
Well that’s where manufacturers such as Vauxhall come in with their Ampera. Unlike the luxurious Tesla Model S and ludicrously priced BMW i8, though, the Ampera isn’t an electric car in the traditional sense because it has a 1.4-litre petrol engine. And it isn’t a hybrid in the traditional sense because the electric motor powers the wheels at all times.
So what is it?
It’s the future, that’s what. Or, if you want a proper answer, it’s an EV with a range extender.
You see the only reason the 1.4-litre petrol engine is there is to gift the Ampera with regular car-like range. Vauxhall claims you will get amazing economy figures in the Ampera (up to 235.4 miles per gallon with a CO2 rating of 27 g/km) and that you will be able to use the Ampera as an everyday car, just like you would a Vauxhall Insignia; because the super-efficient 1.4-litre engine is there to simply charge the batteries, range anxiety is not an issue with this car, whereas it is in much more expensive machines like the Tesla Model S.
It isn’t just the huge range that makes the new Vauxhall Ampera a direct alternative to traditionally fuelled cars, either, according to Bristol Street Motors, because the Ampera drives just like a normal car should – there’s plenty of power with a 0 – 62 mph time of 8.7 seconds, plenty of character with well weighted steering, and it is a refined and practical car with a 300-litre boot. Servicing and an MOT Leicester (click here) should be pretty straight-forward too.
In fact, the only tell tale signs that the Ampera is not a regular car are the styling (which is completely independent from the current Vauxhall line-up), and the sound it makes – which is none (unless you listen really carefully, where the 1.4-litre petrol engine can be heard humming away).
At £28,750 (after the £5,000 Government grant), the Ampera is one expensive Vauxhall. But, buyers will have a bragging right – this is the most environmentally friendly car Vauxhall make. It’s also rather delightful to drive and the economy figures are no joke with range anxiety busting potential.
The only real-world competitor to the Vauxhall Ampera currently is the BMW i3. That car has a range extender, but it’s a much smaller machine and so for families who want an EV that busts range anxiety, Vauxhall is the brand to look to.