For the vast majority of the time, the Vauxhall Ampera drives as an electric car whose energy source just happens to be on board.

There is, though, a sense of easy normality in the way the Ampera goes about its business. The gearlever shifts from drive to reverse to neutral as in any traditionally powered car with an automatic gearbox, and it creeps from a standstill in drive or reverse as you ease off the brakes.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Chief tester
The Ampera will reach 60mph in – which is no disgrace for an efficient hybrid

Yet even with a fully topped battery, ask for total acceleration and only the electric motor will propel you, and convincingly so: 0-60mph takes a credible 10.1sec and the throttle response is, if you’ll excuse us, electric.

That makes the Ampera – as it does Nissan’s Leaf – actually an easy and relaxing car to drive, with no gears and little noise to concern you (unless the generator has kicked in).

When we tested the Tesla Roadster, we were pleased to find that, while the sound of a well tuned internal combustion engine was missed, there was much for the purist to enjoy about an electric motor’s instantaneous response.

The same is true of the more modestly powered Ampera. Not that what, in other cars, you’d call in-gear acceleration isn’t fine in the Ampera, mind; 30-70mph takes merely 9.9sec and 50-70mph just 6.2sec.

That level of performance won’t trouble the fresh wake of most £30,000-plus saloons or hatchbacks, but it’s adequate, and seldom on the road did we find it wanting.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Vauxhall range

Driven this week

  • Alpina D5 S
    The Alpina D5 S is the German firm's latest performance version of a BMW
    First Drive
    21 February 2018
    The latest executive express from the masters of fast diesels is a fabulous machine, but is the current it's swimming against simply too strong?
  • Hyundai Nexo FCEV
    This is the new Hyundai Nexo FCEV
    First Drive
    20 February 2018
    The new Nexo SUV is a showcase for both hydrogen power and autonomous tech. Does that make it an appealing purchase?
  • Vauxhall Insignia GSi Sports Tourer
    This is the Vauxhall Insignia GSi Sports Tourer
    First Drive
    19 February 2018
    The Insignia GSi is Vauxhall's new performance flagship. Can this diesel estate version offer both pace and practicality?
  • Honda Civic Type R
    First Drive
    19 February 2018
    It’s a warm welcome to this steaming hot hatch. But is it too fiery for Britain’s roads?
  • Aston Martin DB11 Volante
    The DB11 Volante chassis' torsional rigidity is 22kN/deg, down from 34kN/deg on the coupe – but substantially more than the 14.7kN/deg of the DB9 Volante
    First Drive
    19 February 2018
    The DB11 Volante is the first convertible variant of Aston Martin's new model generation. How does it compare to the likes of the new Ferrari Portofino?