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.

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.


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