Feeds

Vauxhall Ampera extended range e-car

Behind the wheel of GM's green mobile

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

This means that the very subdued engine note stays the same no matter how hard you mash the throttle. It's a bit like driving a CVT automatic with a very quite and very refined engine, and with a huge amount of instant torque - 273lb ft (370Nm) to be exact - on tap.

GM Ampera

A 30-minute spin around Ellesmere Port in a left-hand drive test car that's been well used - he said politely - and with a Vauxhall tech hovering in the back seat to make sure I didn't hit the large red Emergency Stop button - not a feature of the finished car, apparently - is hardly ideal for a road test but I came away impressed.

Even with the petrol engine running, the Ampera was refined, quiet and very spirited. I'm can't confirm Vauxhall's claims of 0-60 in 8.5 seconds, or a top speed of 100mph, but you won't find as much low-speed urgency this side of a very good 2.0 litre turbo diesel. And even the very best diesels still sound like, well, diesels.

I'm not sure if the test car had suspension tuned for European rather than North American tastes, but if not General Motors has done a fine job with the ride and handling. The car showed no signs of the expected American wallow and felt tight, balanced and composed no matter how deliberately ham-fisted I tried to be.

In fact, it handles much like a Chevrolet Cruze with which it shares the same GM Delta II platform, as does the new Astra. The T-shaped battery pack built into the floor plan apparently significantly lowers the Ampera's centre of gravity compared to other cars in the same size class which can only help handling.

GM Ampera

The interior is a pretty decent place to spend time even allowing for the slightly crumby pre-production plastics on display on the doors. The sporty semi-bucket seats hold you firmly in a low-slung driving position, and the trick LED instrument binnacle worked a treat even in strong sunlight. Being an automatic, Ampera gets going when you hit a start/stop button and push the big pedal.

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

Next page: Verdict

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.