The Ampera – A Month On

Now we have had the Vauxhall Ampera for over a month I wanted to update you on how we are getting on and give you our thoughts so far.

It is worth putting into context first just why we bought the Ampera. It was a replacement for a Land Rover Freelander 2 which we had bought a year ago as a tow car for our caravan but now we no longer tow it seemed rediculous having such a car as our second car, our other car and primary day-to-day one is a Nissan Leaf 100% electric.

So, if we were to replace the Freelander with anything it was going to have to live up to the expectations we now had from having the Nissan Leaf for a year. Not easy! Our ideal replacement would have been a 100% electric car, similar to the Leaf but with a 300+ miles range. They don’t exists yet except in the guise of the Tesla Model S and that is way beyond our budget… not to mention it is simply too big a car for us. So we looked at all the various hybrids and eco-diesels available today and came to the conclusion that the Ampera was by far the only sensible option.

We wanted a car that could be used for 30-50 miles in electric mosde only so that it could be used as our sendond car for all those local trips we all do everyday. Yet, we didn’t want to lose the capability to jump in the car at a moments notice and drive 160+ miles without needing charging. The Leaf cannot do that and nor can any existing 100% EV other than a Tesla. We also wanted a car that would return sensible mpg figures when we did those longer trips.

The result of our research was the Ampera in all departments. It can easily do 40-50 miles as an EV. It can then be used in the same way as a normal petrol car allowing us to do those trips out of range of the Leaf and still return 50-60mpg when used on petrol only at motorway speeds. Not at all bad for a car of this size.

So is it living up to our expectations?

Yes it is. We find that now we have 2 electric cars we use either the Leaf or the Ampera for local trips giving us the freedom to use either or both at the same time without using any petrol at all. We have also done several trips in the Ampera that we couldn’t have done easily in the Leaf including a trip from Cornwall to the Lake District and just a few days ago a trip to Taunton to see Somerset play cricket. That would have required an overnight stop to charge had we done that in the Leaf and yet we returned over 60mpg at normal motorway speeds. Not likely in most cars today.

It is a very solid car to drive making it feel more suited to those longer trips than the Leaf anyway.

Motorway fast charging is coming to service areas this year but I think it is going to be a long time before the Leaf can be used without restrictions on routing and time for long trips and the Ampera is a superb alternative for people that just want to drive to anywhere, at anytime, without having to routeplan to get charging etc. It can be used as a full EV locally and as a normalp;etrol car for long trips except it has really good mpg.

We have had no major issues the only one being a tear has developed in the front passenger seat leather. Vauxhall are replacing the seat cover but that was reported to them 4 weeks ago and still it is not replaced 🙁

General performance is excellent with it having a typical Electric Car feel being fast and easy to drive.

The navigation system only uses 5 character post codes so there are some places it won’t navigate to unless you know in advance the name of the road. In fact, many places don’t have a road name in their address and so it is impossible to navigate to them. This is a bad failing of the satnav system and one they must correct. Apart from that the satnav and sound system is working fine.

So far then we love it.

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