Vauxhall Ampera hatchback (2012-2014) - Engines, drive & performance
Power delivery is instant, but the Vauxhall Ampera is more of a relaxed cruiser than a sports car
The Vauxhall Ampera was never designed to be a fast or exciting car, but that never seems to be an issue anyway. Discreet start-up and silent running when in battery-only mode mean the Ampera isn’t a threatening car on the road, despite its unusual powertrain.
There’s very little body lean when driving through corners and handling is pretty decent for this kind of car, but the Ampera is better suited to more relaxed driving. All the weight is kept inside the wheelbase, so the extra bulk compared to a conventionally fuelled car isn’t as obvious as in some rivals. You do still feel a bit of weight in hard cornering, but the wide tyres mean there’s plenty of grip.
You need to be careful when driving the Ampera over speed bumps or sudden dips and crests, as the low ‘chin’ spoiler can scrape on the road. The rubber trim along the bottom takes most of the force, but it’s still a little worrying from behind the wheel.
Vauxhall Ampera electric motor
The Ampera's wheels are driven by an electric motor that takes power from a lithium-ion battery. It produces 150bhp and accelerates the car very quickly, as electric motors deliver full power instantaneously, rather than gradually like a standard petrol or diesel engine. The Ampera can accelerate from 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds and has a limited top speed of 100mph. The lighter and more powerful BMW i3 is quicker, though.
Electric-only driving range is 50 miles, but the 1.4-litre petrol generator allows you to keep going beyond that by supplying electricity to the motor when the battery runs down. There’s a constant hum when it’s in use, but it’s not intrusive or annoying. The direct power on tap means there’s none of the lag or power gaps sometimes felt in petrol or diesel cars.