Ampera looks best

electric yet

Vauxhall Ampera, front, action
Vauxhall Ampera, side
Vauxhall Ampera, rear
Vauxhall Ampera, interior

VAUXHALL'S first hybrid car, the Ampera, is almost identical to the Chevrolet Volt and they should both be on sale in April.

We have already heard so much about it that it seems to have been around for a year or more.

But that has just been the output from the publicity machine.

It's a plug-in that uses a 150bhp electric motor and can do 50 miles on electric power alone.

But unlike other electric cars, longer journeys are not a problem either, because it has a 1.4 petrol engine to charges the batteries and give a range of over 300 miles.

On such a run, it should be capable of around 120 miles per gallon and low, low 40g/km of carbon dioxide emissions.

But if most of your journeys are less than 50 miles, you'll never use any petrol.

Battery charging from a domestic plug takes about four hours and I think this is the best overall electric vehicle to come to the market so far - apart from the very high price.

It has space for four adults in comfort and at that price, must come very well equipped. City dwellers will love the fact that they rarely need fuel but longer journeys are not a problem.

The boot is a decent size and it's a hatchback with folding rear seats, so that can be extended easily.

FAST FACTS

Price: £29,000

Mechanical: 148bhp, electric motor plus 1.4-litre petrol engine driving front wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 100mph

0-62mph: 9 seconds

Combined MPG: 120

Insurance Group: n/a

C02 emissions: 40g/km

Bik rating: 10%

Warranty: 10yrs/ 99,000 miles

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