Kevin Sharpe - Founder and Patron for UK registered charity Zero Carbon World. Founder and Chairman Mainpine Group. http://about.me/kevinsharpe
To be fair, they've stated that would be €395 on the FAQs for a long time, so they have kept it pretty consistent.
I was concerned that the UK had been locked out by this £799 British Gas 'deal' but it seems not.
Today I did drive the Opel Ampera for the very first time! I did like it a lot! It drives well, seems to be very well built. I'm sure the annoying sound when powering on can be switched of and the sales person who had no idea about the car can be thrown out.
Did you drive it in sport mode? Quite a bit more responsive.
No, just the normal mode. The salesman did not know that there are different modes....
It was responsive enough. The brakes are however very different then in the roadster! They seem to be very effective, too!
The only negative thing for me is that it is a 4 seater. I was hoping it was a 5 seater.
The volume of the power on and power off noises can be adjusted to any level, including zero. This can be done in the user settings screen, or by just turning the volume knob while the noise is active.
Thanks for that tip GSP. I might go straight out to the garage now and do it.
While Dragon was docking this afternoon, I was selling my old car. End of an era, but so far, start of a better one.
I owe you guys a full review soon, but here's the short version: After 3 weeks and 1400 miles, I LOVE this car.
Sideways in 2012, yes or no? | Autocar
I spent the thick end of a week driving the new Vauxhall Ampera recently, and by the end of the test I was reasonably convinced I’d driven the most significant car of this year, and possibly ever.
It's 1 month since I got the Ampera, so perhaps I should do this review!
Tonight after work I am up to 1780 miles and at 99 MPG. Driving has been a mix of roadtrips and commuting, and I've been out of the country for 6 days of the month.
My time with the car started immediately with a trip for work of around 700 miles, leaving straight from the dealer. The trip was over 4 days, so I had opportunities to top up at night and during the day when working. Nevertheless there were two legs of 150 miles on fast (70 mph) roads and hence after the 4 days I was down to 65 MPG. I put £20 of petrol into the car towards the end of this trip, just as a buffer.
I then parked the car for a few days while away before doing one trip to work without charging, which resulted in me being able to get to and then half way back on electric power. My drive is 31 miles, mostly on 70 mph motorway (which regularly gets above 80). I then drove 112 miles to Santa Pod (again on mainly 70 mph road) for the drag racing, saving 10 miles in hold mode in order to use it at the strip. Charging at the track meant I needn't have bothered saving electricity, but you never know what you'll find. I was fully charged for the way back.
Another few days away and then I did a drive to work, charging at a colleagues' house (I pay him cost price for the electricity). This has been done 9 times now. I couple of times I haven't been able to charge up at work, so petrol was used again getting back. I put another £20 in the car on one of those trips, but more on that later. Finally, I went to see a friend in London on Sunday (60 miles away), charging while there.
So this 99 MPG was achieved with many long trips and by the car being driven quickly. I'm not one to sit in the slow lane drafting trucks - I tend to draft BMWs. Yet I've only spent £66 on fuel in those 1780 miles. This would have been over £350 in my last car.
So I have to say that as I've done more miles in this car, I've grown to really really love it and appreciate the engineering that went into it. It's also really rewarding and fun to drive fast on a back road, particularly in Sport mode, but acceleration and motorway cruising are totally effortless - almost deceptive. I'm sure this car is more of a license-loser than my last one, because there is no drama in going fast.
Most of my charging has been at 6 Amps. That's enough to refill the car overnight and refill while I am at work. Occasionally I charge at 10 Amps if I know I will be using the car within 6 hours, but it does warm the wall outlet up a bit more.
The range anxiety thing is really interesting. I don't suffer it, but I can understand the state of mind for those who have no idea what an electric powered car is really like (one serious Top Gear kool aid drinker still doesn't get how I can't run flat). Anyway, I think the concept is misnamed: It should be charging anxiety.
To paraphrase a signature on here: 16 kWh battery = electric car, 16 kWh + ICE = car. I know that at any time I can just jump in the car and drive off, yet still get all the benefits of an EV for regular, scheduled journeys. It really changes the way you view the car to a pure EV. Another Ampera driver who also owns a LEAF summed it up quite well. He observed that the real difference in electric range between the two is much closer than on paper, because with the Ampera you can run down to 0% SOC whereas you always need to keep a reserve with the LEAF.
Ironically, the only time I have suffered 'range anxiety' with the car was when it ran low on petrol. I was down to 25 miles' petrol range and 7 miles from home. At that point all hell breaks loose! The car sounds a warning bell, flashes up messages on the main console screen and goes to 'range unknown' on the gauge. It offers to show nearby petrol stations on the sat nav. I felt compelled to pull off the motorway and put some petrol in (at a Vauxhall dealer, funnily enough).
Everyone who has ridden in the car or driven it was immediately smitten. Two colleagues are now actively talking about getting one (and getting it on the company car list) and another 3 have said it is definitely on their list for when they next change. The car sells itself. Virtually everyone has said it looks amazing, with the only negative coming from the aforementioned kool aid drinker who thinks the back bumper is "butt ugly".
Overall it's really well screwed together, but looking under the bonnet (hood) you can tell there some elements of hand-built about it. My friend Darryl who has a much more keen eye for this stuff than me, says that there are differences in the paint on some of the panels and I also noticed minute alignment issues in some places. Larger issues I have had are:
- The car was delivered with 3 tiny dents in the front of the bonnet. This was only spotted when the protective wrap was taken off for pre-delivery inspection. Another is on order, but they don't have inventory in the country yet.
- The radio has a habit of randomly resetting the band it is tuned to. This happens on about 1 in 10 starts. It has also lost tone settings. The Ampera manager at Vauxhall said it was a new one on him, and getting it re-flashed should cure it, but I since heard that one other driver has seen it.
- A problem seemed to start a week ago that it sometimes thinks a passenger is sitting next to me and then sounds the seat belt warning chime. I think it starts on the next time of using the car after a passenger really was in there. Buckling the seat belt stops it, but it is annoying.
These are minor niggles really on what is a great car overall. Hopefully a software patch will fix the latter two issues.
Vauxhall called me yesterday to see how I was getting on and to ask what I would like to see on the mark 2. I would say:
- Not keeping the charging cord under the boot floor.
- A charging port on both sides.
- A proper 'parcel shelf' / cover for the boot.
- Stiffer dampers and more weighted steering (or the latter to be adjustable).
- A sunroof and a three door model.
- Electric fold-in mirrors.
- Radar-guided cruise control.
- 32A charging would be nice on occasion.
- Rapid charge would allow a useful recharge to be taken on at motorway service areas during coffee or a sandwich.
- Last but not least, 50% more EV range would get around the work charging issue for me - but then I'm at the right side of the bell curve.
As I said above, I don't like the Michelin Energy Saver tires they equipped production cars with but they can be changed.
But none of this stuff detracts from my opinion on the current car. When they asked me to score the car out of 10, I said 9. I really think that for a mark 1 it is that good.
So overall I'm genuinely very happy with my purchase. I really don't miss the old car - in fact when I had to get it ready for sale and go to get some petrol for that, the whole experience of shifting the gear ratio to keep the humming thing up front operating effectively just seemed so archaic (not to mention putting an expensive liquid in it more than once a week just to use it at all). And that was after just 3 weeks. Many drivers of so-called faster, more expensive cars that I pass on the motorway have been impressed with the smooth, linear acceleration too
The Ampera really is exceeding my expectations and I'm really glad that its already making converts out of those that have had a chance to experience it.
Oh, I'm not the only one: The Conway Column: an unlikely electric car convert
I have a Volt and absolutely love it! My other car is a BMW330xi and it is not getting much use (I love it as well but much more work to drive).
I really like the look of the Ampera and have plans to convert my Volt by ordering the front and rear fascia from Europe. Are parts not available yet? If you know of any great places to get the parts let me know!
Thanks for taking the time to write that up. Are you putting that out to various mainstream car mags and websites as a 'Living with an Ampera' type article ?
The Autocar review was surprisingly positive, but elsewhere more emphasis needs to be given to Vauxhalls 8 year / 100,000 mile warranty to dispel much of the FUD that’s out there.
Vauxhall Ampera Review | Autocar
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