Our Cars: Vauxhall Ampera - November

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Vauxhall Ampera
Vauxhall Ampera
Vauxhall Ampera

Week ending November 30
Mileage 10,900
Driven this week 200 miles


Vauxhall Ampera review

I can't remember how often I'd check the tyres in the days before built-in tyre pressure sensors - probably once a month or so. In new cars like the Ampera when you get an amber warning to tell you that one of the tyres is low (even if not visibly so) you feel that you should do something about it.

Low tyre pressures can lead to increased fuel consumption, because the car has to do more work to push itself along. It's fun to see the colour of the tyres change to green in the instrument display when you get them to the correct pressure.

By Ed Keohane
Ed.Keohane@whatcar.com

Week ending November 23
Mileage 10,700
Driven this week: 150 miles


From a driver's point of view, the Ampera is a relaxing car for long trips. The driving position is very good, with a comfortable seat, and all the controls are within easy reach - sadly not always the case
with new cars.

I struggle slightly with the touch-sensitive controls for the infotainment and climate systems, but once you get used to the buttons not moving, there aren't any usability issues, and the single flat panel means there's the benefit of not collecting dust or crumbs.

However, as I've discovered in these winter evenings, the shallow windscreen means the visibility is not good to either side of straight ahead, so you have to concentrate extra hard when driving through town at night, and the headlights don't light the road particularly well, which doesn’t help either.

Urban economy is still good. You can't help but get 45mpg in heavy traffic.

Ed.Keohane@whatcar.com

Week ending November 16
Mileage 10,550
Driven this week: 620 miles


I tend not to make that many out-of-town trips in our Vauxhall Ampera, but last weekend I headed off into Sussex for the afternoon, and it reminded me of a couple of different sides to the car.

The first is the way it looks – you can't be self-conscious, because you'll need to get used to people staring at it.

The second is that it makes quite a lot of engine noise at motorway speeds once the batteries are exhausted. It's particularly noisy when you're accelerating, but there's definitely more noise than you'd expect in a £34,000 car, even when you're cruising.

By Ed Keohane
Ed.Keohane@whatcar.com

Week ending November 9
Mileage 9930
Driven this week: 100 miles


A trip to the local dealer beckons for our Vauxhall Ampera. I’ve been frustrated by the standard-fit front spoiler, which scrapes over every single speed bump. I'll be asking them to fit the newly available alternative version, which is much shallower. There'll be a small fuel economy penalty, apparently, but it's still a big win.

There's also a slow puncture in the offside rear tyre, an engine management alert light that goes on and off intermittently and a query over the headlight beam. Now that I'm driving more in the dark, I find it quite hard to see the road, compared with other cars I drive, and I'm not sure whether the beam is correctly directed or it's simply that the lights are not that bright.

By Ed Keohane
Ed.Keohane@whatcar.com

Week ending November 2
Mileage 9830
Driven this week: 200 miles


Our Vauxhall Ampera excelled itself in town in the summer, but now that the autumn has arrived I'm beginning to see flaws in the package.

Apart from the reduced battery range (now about 37 miles), my biggest niggles are my cold feet, because the cabin heating system appears unable to maintain a constant temperature and that the windscreen demister blows cold air for the first 30-40 seconds.

On its own, no flaw is that serious, but it does reinforce my suspicions that most of the engineering effort went into the Ampera's drivetrain, and that's not something most modern drivers are used to.

By Ed Keohane
Ed.Keohane@whatcar.com

Our Cars: Vauxhall Ampera - October

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