We’ve seen this before, in everything from the Tesla Roadster to Peugeot’s 3008 Hybrid4: cars with large battery packs seldom ride well. Nissan’s Leaf is an exception; the Vauxhall Ampera is not.

We’ll not beat around the bush: the Ampera is not an engaging car to drive, nor is it an especially deftly damped one. It is not uncomfortable, and it is not unpleasant, but its ride never becomes better than acceptable, while its steering lacks fluidity and consistency.

Keen drivers will appreciate the Ampera's relatively unintrusive ESP system

While neither chassis nor steering are lively communicators, the ESP system is pleasingly unintrusive. Bottom line: you buy an Ampera because you like what it does in terms of effortless progress, not because you like the way it drives.

Although it had only 36 miles of battery power showing at the start of our performance tests, the Vauxhall managed two sets of standing start tests, noise tests, wet and dry braking tests and wet handling tests before finally depleting its batteries during our dry handling tests and defaulting to ‘reduced performance mode’.

At that point it was as if it were operating on about half of maximum power at higher speeds and loads. But before then the Ampera showed plenty of performance, and certainly more than most petrol-electric hybrids.


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