Test Drive Vauxhall Ampera

9 Мар 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Test Drive Vauxhall Ampera отключены
VAUXHALL Ampera Electric Cars

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Richard Jordan puts the futuristic new plug-in hybrid through its paces at the CENEX LCV2011

Funded by Obama money and available on his side of the pond already as the GM Chevrolet Volt, the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera, due for release in early 2012, is GM’s first foray into electric motoring since the EV1 in the 1990s, and is probably the most eagerly awaited electric ever.

The Ampera is a range-extended electric car (definitely NOT a plug-in serial hybrid, according to the Vauxhall rep at LCV), which can cover 25 to 50 miles on electric alone, and then a further 310 miles using a small petrol engine as a generator to maintain the battery’s state of charge.  Even with the motor going, there is no doubt that the Ampera is a revolution in fuel economy: it achieves 175 mpg and emits 40g CO2/km, according to Vauxhall’s information.

Driving around the sweeping bends of Rockingham (and maybe taking in a few kerbs), the Ampera feels solid and well-built, with an interior that looks and feels like a decent stereo.   There is enough power, in the form of the 111kW/150 hp electric motor, to make this a decent driver’s car; it holds the corners well (possibly owing to the 250 kg of battery in the floor) and acceleration off the mark is fast (0-62 mph in nine seconds) and very smooth.  The torque curve is flat, but only up to a point: above about 60 mph the rate of acceleration did slow down.

  Since the petrol engine is being used to drive a generator rather than the wheels, there is no correlation between engine note and application of foot to pedal. This can be slightly odd, although after a couple of laps of Rockingham I was fine with it.  As expected, the Ampera uses regenerative braking rather than friction braking if possible.

  Those who have driven a Prius or a Leaf will know the feeling.

VAUXHALL Ampera Electric Cars

The display both behind the wheel and on the centre console tells the driver the amount of time left on pure electric and then the remaining range using the petrol range-extender.  It’s a complicated beast: at low speeds only one of two electric motors is used, and when the throttle is opened it’s two.  When the battery is depleted to a certain level, the petrol engine kicks in and uses motor two as a generator to charge the battery.

  At higher speeds, the petrol engine is also used to increase efficiency, although Vauxhall is keen to point out that at no stage does the petrol engine directly drive the wheels.

Like the Nissan Leaf, which I drove at its launch in April, the Ampera is much more than a city run-about or quadricycle.  It is an all-round decent car, and the first which I will seriously consider buying upon release.  The only difficulty is, predictably, the price, which is expected to be around £29,000, even after the £5,000 government rebate.

  Vauxhall has got the mechanics right; now it’s time to focus on the economics.

Richard Jordan is a solicitor at KL Gates

VAUXHALL Ampera Electric Cars
VAUXHALL Ampera Electric Cars

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