Green Award: Vauxhall Ampera
Why it won...
Drive the Vauxhall Ampera, and you’ll take a journey into the future. The world’s first range-extending electric vehicle aims to offer the eco benefits of a battery-powered car with the long-distance flexibility of a regular petrol or diesel model.
The idea is relatively simple. A large lithium-ion battery pack powers the 148bhp electric motor for around 40 miles or so, before a 1.4-litre petrol generator kicks in to give the car an extra 300 miles of range. Unlike hybrid models, the sleekly styled Ampera is always powered by the electric motor, so you benefit from seamless and near-silent acceleration at all times. Better still are the CO2 emissions of just 27g/km and claimed fuel returns of 235mpg.
As with all new technologies, there are one or two compromises – although none is a deal breaker. To get the best out of the Vauxhall, you need to plug it into the mains at least once a day – an overnight charge takes around six hours and costs just £1 – while even with the Government’s £5,000 plug-in grant, you’ll still need to find £30,000 to get behind the wheel.
But it’s what the Vauxhall, and its sister car the Chevrolet Volt, represent for the future that should make you sit up and take note. As production costs tumble and technology improves, range-extending models could become the staple of every maker’s line-up. Vauxhall, Chevrolet and parent firm General Motors will always be the pioneers of this remarkable technology – and the Ampera gets our vote here as Vauxhall’s dealer network is much bigger than Chevrolet’s.
- 1IntroductionThe awards everyone wants to win are back as we name the finest models in 18 categories and crown our Car of the Year for 2012
- 2Best City Car
- 3Best SuperminiPeugeot has rediscovered its touch. The RCZ coupe has been winning awards and turning heads for the last couple of years
- 4Best Compact Family CarIt was always going to take something special to beat the Volkswagen Golf, and the new BMW 1 Series is exactly that.
- 5Best Family Car
- 6Best Five-Seat MPVThe C-MAX has emerged from the shadow of the big-selling Ford Focus, and it deserves to take centre stage.
- 7Best Seven-Seat MPVThe SEAT Alhambra has made the MPV sector its own and after scooping the top prize last year, nothing in the past 12 months has been able to dislodge it from the top of the class
- 8Best Estate CarThe Skoda Superb Estate has scored a hat-trick of wins in the Estate Car category at our annual awards, and it’s going to take something seriously talented to knock it off the top step of the podium next time around.
- 9Best Crossover
- 10Best Compact SUV
- 11Best Large SUVIf the Discovery carries on at this rate, it will deserve an outstanding achievement award at our next New Car Awards.
- 12Best Hot HatchA fast Ford is back on top of the hot hatch pile, and having met the people behind the new Focus ST, we’re not surprised.
- 13Best ConvertibleThe best convertibles need to be as good with their roofs up as they are with them folded, and the Golf Cabriolet is exactly that.
- 14Best CoupePeugeot is back with a bang this year – although it never really went away.
- 15Best Roadster