Vauxhall Ampera - iDrive
The Ampera finally ends electric car range anxiety
Friday 22 July 2011
We're only just over halfway through 2011 but I think I've already driven this year's most significant new car. The Vauxhall Ampera is quite simply an electric vehicle that overcomes the main drawback of other battery-powered cars – limited range.
This is how it works: Charge it from the mains and it runs on its batteries for about 40 miles. When the batteries have been drained to a certain level, a range-extending, 1.4-litre petrol engine kicks in that allows the Ampera to cover a similar distance to mainstream petrol and diesel cars.
But doesn't that make it a hybrid? Vauxhall says no. In a hybrid like the Toyota Prius, the contributions of the petrol engine and electric motor are “blended”, with each frequently cutting in and out as appropriate.
The Ampera, though, is always driven by its electric motor. In the early stages of a journey, it draws upon the batteries. Later, the petrol engine drives a generator, which in turn powers the electric motor. Performance is the same in either case, and the petrol engine, when it comes into play, is very quiet and turns only slowly.
What you get is an impressive car that offers the interior space of a Vauxhall Astra but the drive-train refinement of a top-end Mercedes or Jaguar. In battery mode, the Ampera is almost silent, and it doesn’t get much louder when the petrol engine joins in.
It should be inexpensive to run as mains electricity costs far less per mile than petrol – the figures in the table are indicative and depend on the exact pattern of use.
Price: £28,955 after £5,000 government plug-in car subsidy
Engine capacity: electric motor plus 1.4-litre petrol
Power output: 150 (electric motor), 86 (petrol range extender)
Max torque: 370 (electric motor), 130 (petrol range extender)
Top speed (mph): 100 0-60 mph (seconds): 9 approx
Fuel economy (mpg): over 175
CO2 emissions (g/km): less than 40
The Ampera’s biggest rivals will be its Chevrolet-badged sister car, the Volt, the Nissan Leaf and the hybrid Toyota Prius.
Life & Style blogs
Airline food across the classes: Ever wondered what the other half are eating?
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
Huawei P8 review: best phones nobody's seen from the biggest company nobody's heard
The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive - it's where the CIA gets its coffee fix
Contraceptive pill 'can affect emotions by changing structure of brain'
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...