Considering its game-changing tech, the hefty price tag of the Vauxhall Ampera doesn’t feel entirely unwarranted. That GM has successfully landed its ambitious concept on the forecourt is laudable enough; that it has done so without costing the car beyond all reasonable means is little short of remarkable.
The Ampera’s status as a fully-fledged electric vehicle also ensures that its buyers will benefit from a healthy £5000 government subsidy (which trims the sticker price of the entry-level car to around £29k). And, with an official CO2 rating of 27g/km, there’s no road tax to pay, of course.
Nevertheless, the Ampera is not being sold in a vacuum, and it would be remiss of us not to point out that for many people there are machines far below the Vauxhall’s price which, with concerted and varied use, would prove equally affordable to run.
However, use the Ampera within a narrower set of parameters and trips to the petrol station will become an infrequent novelty. Vauxhall claims the cost of recharging the battery is, on average, about £1. That’s an enticing figure.
Buyers also have the reassurance of a separate warranty that covers the battery for eight years/100,000 miles. The manufacturer’s 100,000-mile Lifetime Warranty covers the rest of the car.
So how is it for, in the widest sense, fuel economy? That utterly depends on how frequently you make long journeys and how much access you have to electric chargers. So let’s consider it in three parts.
First, the car’s electric-only range, which, on a mixed route of normal driving, we found to be 33.4 miles.
Second, the economy when there is no recharging available.
The engine drives the motor/generator and powers the car, but the battery also chips in after any stretch of decelerative regeneration, so you can expect 45mpg overall. Not sparkling by modern diesel standards, but not bad for a heavy car with a relatively unsophisticated petrol engine. And it banishes range anxiety.
Third, then, an overall figure. And this is where ours – unlike in any other car we’ve tested – might not necessarily represent a typical figure. We returned 54.2mpg over six days, but we drove it far and often, and our testers did not all have the same access to recharging points.