This website works best using cookies, which are currently blocked. Find out more


Vauxhall Ampera- Take a Journey into the Future

Join The Electric Car Revolution!


Ampera - Take a journey into the future.  A 2012 TOPCAR

The Ampera is an Extended-Range Electric (E-REV) car powered by new technology called Voltec. It’s different from most other advanced electric drive units as it uses electricity to drive the car’s wheels at all times and speeds.

The new Vauxhall Ampera is a  unique idea towards efficiency, style and electric cars which has recently been voted European Car of the Year 2012. General Motors  (GM) who own Vauxhall and Chevrolet have a different approach to the design of electric cars. GM have designed the Ampera so that the battery powers the car from 25 up to 50 miles for lower cost and low CO2 emitting driving.

For longer trips, the petrol-powered generator kicks in to provide electricity to drive up to 310 extra miles. Charging the Ampera is almost as easy as charging your mobile phone unless its raining and you might get wet! Its 16KWH Lithium ion battery can be charged from a 240v standard household power supply in six hours at a cost of around £1 at night or about £2 during the day.

The Vauxhall comes in 3 versions Electron, Positiv and Earth. The Vauxhall Ampera starts at  £29,995 (inclusive of the £5,000 government plug-in car grant) for the Earth model. The Ampera Earth comes with the standard features such as DAB radio, Bluetooth, 7-inch touch-screen, climate control, cruise control and alloy wheels. My test car was the Electron which sits at the top of the Ampera range at £34,590 (inclusive of the £5,000 government plug-in car grant). The Electron comes with leather interior with heated front seats and front/rear parking sensors with a rear-view camera.

My driver was Richard Cunliffe, sales Executive for Drive Vauxhall in Leicester at one of  the limited number of sale centres  in the UK for the Ampera, who by coincidence went to my school back in the early 1980’s. Luckily for me and 1500 other students my school was rebuilt at a cost of £30M and opened in 2009 with a super modern exterior and interior fit for the 21st Century. First impressions of the Ampera are VERY POSITIVE . It is similarly designed as my school to be bold with a positive environmental ethos. The car has a sporty and low stance, with large boomerang-shaped headlamps.


Lift the bonnet and you quickly notice a difference. 6 bright orange leads appear from a large plastic cover which is labelled Voltec. This is the generator. To the left is the small 1.4 litre, 16-valve VVT ECOTEC 86bhp engine with the usual dip stick and oil filler cap. The general finish and detailing under the bonnet seems very well done, though not much room for the mechanics hands!

Step inside the car and you again sense a ultra modern detailing with two large display screens which convey lots of infomation.  The centre console gives you access to power flow information and charging schedules, along with satellite navigation, climate control, entertainment centre and reversing camera. The graphics indicated the Life Time fuel consumption was 77.4 mpg for our car that has covered 3800 miles which is very good news for those that want to reduce fuel bills.

The car according to Richard and my Dad is a great drive. Its very quiet and smooth. Put your foot down and the 148bhp electric motor accelerates the car  to 60mph in a little under  9 seconds. Town driving seems a doddle. A nice touch reflecting the level of detail in design is a “pedestrian horn” that gives a gentle blast to draw awareness of the quiet stealth like car is approaching. If you live in area with lots of speed bumps you will have to be careful as the front nose-skirt is very low.

I think the Ampera is really fun, grippy, visually appealing and surprisingly quiet even when the 1.4 litre engine is powering the generator, however the Ampera will not suit people who transport bikes or tow caravans as you can’t fit a roof rack or tow bar. Along with just four seats  this car is unlikely to be the family car of first choice. Like a lot of new technology,  the Ampera’s battery is too expensive to compete with traditional cars on price. But price usually comes down as production scales up, a basic law of economics. For piece of mind the long-life battery system is designed to be durable and powerful and comes with a 100,000 mile or eight year warrranty.

Overall, the Ampera in my opinion is major  stepping stone for Vauxhall to develop a new modern Brand Image, creating cars with positive environmental  objectives, style and better quality. The Ampera will suit those that buy a Imac or Dyson over a general PC or vacuum cleaner. Getting new technology comes at a price which for those that can afford it brings early satisfaction and should save several thousands of pounds off the petrol bill. Several car makers are now chasing  GM’s pioneering footsteps.  Richard summed the Ampera up in 5 words as “Unique, advanced, economical, luxurious and dynamic”, which I agree with. The Ampera gets my vote as a 2012 TOPCAR for those that want to Go Greener.


Overall 4 Stars out of 5 (would be 5 if price was closer to £30k)

Easy, quick and cheap to charge

 BOLD new design full of technology




Thanks to Richard Cunliffe at Drive Vauxhall - Leicester 

for providing the test drive car.

Read more articles