Vauxhall may not always be the most glamorous of names in the car industry, but its new Ampera really has got people talking about the company – and rightly so. This model really does promise to bring about a real revolution in ultra-economical motoring, and as if that wasn’t enough, you’ll also be doing your bit for the environment when you drive one.

The Vauxhall Ampera has both an electric motor and a 1.4-litre petrol engine, but it’s not quite the same as a standard hybrid. The crucial factor is the near-abolition of the dreaded “range anxiety” that has crippled so many previous attempts in this sector – though with a range of up to 50 miles on battery power alone, that shouldn’t be a problem for short, city trips.

The real difference kicks in when the battery is depleted. Rather than simply switching to direct petrol power, the Ampera’s range extender uses the internal combustion engine to generate further electricity, and it is that which then propels the car. Because of the greater efficiency of this method, more than 300 miles of further travel is easily attainable, giving the car genuine potential as an all-rounder.

Vauxhall has also thought carefully about that other worry all electric and hybrid owners have – recharging. Should you have wiring in your home that can cope, something you’ll need to check out beforehand, you can even plug the Ampera directly into a standard three-pin socket and recharge the battery overnight for around £1 on your power bill each time. Otherwise, use British Gas’s four-hour charge kit, which costs around £800.

The Vauxhall Ampera isn’t cheap to buy, with a list price of more than £32,000, but with careful handling and ultra-economical driving, you should be able to eat into that price premium pretty quickly. You’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing that, with zero emissions, cheap recharging and much lower fossil fuel use; you’re driving the most eco-friendly new car on the block.

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