Every so often you need to use a sat-nav. I can spend weeks without looking at a map, but during a weekend trip in our Vauxhall Ampera I found that we weren’t going to make it without help. So I pushed the 'Dest' button and started putting in the postcode on the touch-screen. I got as far as entering the fourth character when it jumped to giving me a list of incomplete postcodes, and I realised that the Ampera doesn't support full UK postcodes.
It's beyond belief that a car this sophisticated - the engine, motor and gearbox are way ahead of anything else on sale - doesn’t have a sat-nav fully configured for the country it's sold in.
Week ending October 19 Mileage 9250 Driven this week: 250 miles
Now that it's dark when I drive home – and sometimes when I leave for work in the morning – I find that the battery range of the Ampera has dropped, as it powers the headlights and often the seat and cabin heaters. This not a big deal, because there's a petrol engine to extend the range, but I can no longer make it there and back on a single charge.
Fuel consumption in town is hovering at a very respectable 45mpg once the battery is flat. My only real concern in town driving is braking. The brake pedal is pretty abrupt as it swaps from using the motor to using the actual brakes, and on two occasions on wet, leafy roads this has caused the wheels to lock momentarily.
Week ending October 12 Mileage 9000 Driven this week: 380 miles
The Ampera's button-free infotainment system has many confusing and irritating foibles, but I think I've found my 'favourite'.
There's a switch (well, marking) on the centre console that says 'Info' on it. What with the Ampera being so clever and complicated, I was imagining that this function would display all sorts of intricate and interesting information about how the car is behaving.
I was disappointed. When you push the switch, the screen goes black, getting rid of all the information that was already there, and replaces it with only the time and date. As info goes, that's pretty basic. Does anyone have the number for the Trade Descriptions people?
Week ending October 5 8620 miles Driven this week 80 miles
The ease of charging and glitch-free smoothness of the motor and engine are this car's biggest assets. However, considering the price – £39,000 minus a £5000 Government discount – I'm amazed there's not more technology in the cabin. For instance, I can't play music from my phone without using a 3.5mm lead.
As an owner you can get used to that kind of restriction, but it's certainly not competitive.