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LIVING THE ELECTRIC DREAM; Vauxhall have used groundbreaking technology to allow their electricity-driven Ampera to travel for hundreds of miles and, finds MAXINE ASHFORD, it is an attractive, high-spec car that performs excellently.

THERE'S one word that perfectly sums up the Vauxhall Ampera - Europe's first extended-range electric vehicle - electrifying.

For this five-door four-seater promises electric-powered motoring in all driving conditions and it easily delivers on all counts. But that's not all. The Ampera looks great, is packed with eye-catching technology and goes like the wind. Boasting groundbreaking technology, the Ampera's wheels are electrically driven at all times.

A lithium-ion battery pack feeds an advanced electric drive unit that can deliver up to 50 miles of pure electric driving with zero emissions. But, unlike other EVs, there is no range anxiety because for longer journeys there is the range extender - a 1.4-litre petrol engine that powers the electric motor and can result in a further 310 miles of travel. Initial figures show the Ampera will achieve 175mpg and emit less than 40g/km in CO2 emissions. The Ampera takes about four hours to charge using a normal household 13amp socket. It is estimated that 80 per cent of motorists drive 40 miles or less a day and that distance can easily be achieved in pure EV form.

Another feature that really impresses is the Ampera's driving modes. There's normal and sport for everyday driving but, in addition, there is a mountain mode for extreme climbs and a hold setting.

This hold function can be used to store the charge in the battery, which is great if the car is going into a c ongestionc harge area later, where zero emissions mean zero expense. First impressions are paramount when attracting new customers and the Ampera is very attractive. It has the sleek looks of a sports saloon, with 17in alloys, boomerangshaped light clusters housing ice-blue LED daytime running lights, aerodynamic door mirrors and the new-look Vauxhall Griffin standing proudly on the front grille. Vauxhall believe the vehicle's advanced aerodynamics have Vauxhall to for added a further eight miles to the car battery's driving range. And if the exterior doesn't blow you away, then take a seat in spaceship Ampera, because long gone are dials, gauges and needles. In their place are two seven-inch, interactive, highdefinition, colour screens. The first displays vital driving information such as speed, driving efficiency, battery pack charge, electric driving range, warning lights etc. The second offers touch-screen options and is the main infotainment centre. Elsewhere, the Ampera is kitted out in fine leather, it has heated seats and all the luxurious touches we have come to expect these days, including a fantastic BOSE sound system. The vehicle can carry four adults in comfort and there's ample room to store luggage. The rear seats can also fold flat to increase load capacity.

car As for performance, once again, it delivers. The ride in both electric and range-extended modes is smooth, responsive, comfortable and very quiet, with virtually no road surface noise. Road-holding is excellent and acceleration through the automatic transmission is exceptionally slick.

Parking is made simpler thanks to a reversing camera. The Ampera has a top speed of 100mph and reaches 0-62mph in about nine seconds.

As one would expect, the Ampera boasts excellent safety specifications, including a nt il ock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, traction control, stability control and numerous airbags.

And the massive battery has been put through every test imaginable to challenge its strength, endurance and safety credentials. There will also be an app for smart phone owners whereby you can find your local Vauxhall dealer, search for charging stations, find your car, receive accident assist and much more. The vehicle, due to go on sale in early 2012, is priced at pounds 28,999, which is inclusive of the Government's pounds 5000 pl ugi n car grant and it comes with Vauxhall's lifetime warranty (eight years/100,000 miles for the battery). But, the Ampera also comes with a word of warning - you could lose a good friend at the local garage because you won't need to visit that often any more.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 22, 2011
Words:658
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