Road Tests

Vauxhall Ampera

2

thumbs upNo range anxiety, practical and usable, secondhand ones down to £8k

thumbs downDull steering, four seater only, they don't make it anymore

Should You?

The world’s first plug-in hybrid wasn’t a huge success for Vauxhall. Based on the Chevrolet Volt it’s really a range extender with a 1.4 petrol engine, electric motor and batteries. Works really well in normal driving and we ran one for a year and didn’t put in any petrol for four months. Batteries give between 30 and 50-mile range depending on temperature and driving style and then the petrol engine kicks in with a range of 300 miles. The highest fuel economy we ever saw on battery alone was 198mpg, so for town work the Ampera is as cheap as chips to run.  Apart from no rear middle seat cabin is decent and boot is huge. A much-misunderstood car that was priced too high (£29K) launched too early and not marketed well. A 2012 with 30k miles is now down to £11k, which is good value. Battery warranty is generous at eight years and 100,000 miles.  We remember ours fondly.

My Charging Life

Charging from a home socket takes six hours but you’ll definitely need a wall charger to maximize battery range. Owners report varying ranges with as low as 30 miles from one charge. Fast charging takes 30 mins to 70% and petrol range is a useful 300 miles. Combined economy in hard mixed driving around 50 mpg but drives well on motorways. Use only in town and charge every night and you laugh at fuel stations.

The Downsides

A bit dated now and outclassed by most other PHEVs so used values will wane. Batteries don’t like low temperatures and 0-60 takes a slow 10.8 secs. Bit bland to drive.

Verdict
3

Much better than you’d expect and makes a very decent all rounder. Used prices from private sellers vary wildly so there are plenty of Ampera bargains out there.