The hybrid Vauxhall Ampera looks radical, and it has some radical technology beneath the skin. It's described by Vauxhall as a "range extending electric vehicle". That means the wheels are turned by an electric motor, but a small 1.4-litre petrol generator supplies the motor with electricity when the battery runs flat. So unlike conventional electric cars, such as the Nissan Leaf, the Vauxhall Ampera doesn't have a limited range. In fact, the Vauxhall Ampera can also go a lot further than a conventional car between fuel stops. Inside, the cabin has a futuristic look similar to that of the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius thanks to its attractive wraparound dash and LCD centre console, but quality is a major step ahead.
- Low running costs
- Stylish, futuristic looks
- Avoids range limitation of pure electric cars
- High list price
- Only four seats
- Relaxing rather than fun
The Vauxhall Ampera offers one of the best blends of economy and practicality of any car on sale in the UK. By combining an electric motor with a petrol engine-powered generator, it can drive for 50 miles on electric power alone, then keep going even when the battery has run flat. It also looks very sporty – which is rare for an eco-friendly car – and has a spacious interior. In fact, the only thing that really lets the Ampera down is a high list price. But as the running costs are so low, some people will see that as a price worth paying.