The Vauxhall Ampera (and its sister car the Chevrolet Volt) works differently to other hybrids on the market.
In most hybrids, both the combustion engine and the electric motor can power the car. In the Ampera, the petrol engine never drives the wheels directly. All power comes from the 148bhp electric motor. The petrol engine is there solely to be used as a generator once the batteries run out of power.
Refinement is one of the Ampera's strong points. The drivetrain is silent most of the time and the petrol engine is quiet even when it is in use.
Interior plastics are hard and not pleasant to the touch, while most buttons are touch-sensitive and not overly user-friendly.
Specification on both cars is generous. Both come with alloy wheels, cruise control and DAB radio. Space in the cabin is good given all the technology that the car fits in. In the rear there are just two seats, although they are roomy and comfortable.
The Vauxhall Ampera and Chevrolet Volt are two of our favourite green cars. An official fuel economy of 235mpg is the best on the market, while CO2 emissions of 27g/km means that the cars qualify for zero road tax, London Congestion Charge exemption and the lowest rate of company car tax. Both cars also qualify for the Government's £5000 grant.