Vauxhall's hush hush

secret

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

IT'S an eerie feeling walking along a lane and hearing a gentle beep from a car horn when you have heard no other sound.

This happened to me at the launch of the Vauxhall Ampera, GM's latest and most forward looking electric car.

It runs solely on electric power stored in batteries for the first 50 miles - and let's face it - that's enough for most people to get to work and back every day.

So it is very, very quiet, and Vauxhall has built in a gentle horn note to warn pedestrians that it is coming.

t's a plug-in electric car that drives the same as any very good petrol or diesel. But it has an ace in the hole that other electric machinery cannot match.

Under the bonnet there is not only a powerful electric motor but also a small petrol engine to charge the batteries and power the electric motor when they run out.

Even using this to do the car's full 360 mile range economy is 200mpg and emissions 27g/km.

It is very well equipped, with sat nav and all the information you need to make the best of the electric power. And Vauxhall has given the lithium-ion battery an eight year warranty for peace of mind.

The only real drawback with this one is a price tag that few could afford.

: Nissan Leaf

FAST FACTS

Price: £38,995 (excluding Government grant)

Mechanical: 150bhp electric motor (plus 1.4 petrol engine for charging) driving the front wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 100mph

0-62mph: 8.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 200

Insurance Group: 21

C02 emissions: 27g/km

Bik rating: 5%

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