Vauxhall surprised everybody in 2012 when the Ampera hit UK roads – and you might still be surprised at how cheap it is second hand
Vauxhall surprised everybody in 2012 when the Ampera hit UK roads. It was actually a Chevrolet Volt rebadged under the Vauxhall name, with only light visual tweaks to tell the American original from its Luton-hailing cousin. It provided a good opportunity for the EV-curious to dip their toes into the land of hybrid power. The Ampera is somewhat forgotten as an important player in the hybrid scene, but its stats still read impressively today.
It could cover 0-62mph in 9.0sec thanks to its 1.4-litre engine and electric motor, producing a combined 148bhp, and its claimed EV range was up to 50 miles, when even today’s Volkswagen Golf GTE tops out at 40 miles before petrol power must cut in.
Altogether, the Ampera claimed an (unrealistic) average of 235.4mpg and it could be plugged in and fully charged in four hours. The official CO2 output was just 27g/km.
It was also well kitted out and available in two trim levels: the Positiv, with a reversing camera, DAB radio and cruise control; and the Electron, which added sat-nav and a premium Bose audio system. Dual screens were the focal point for the driver, with a wraparound dashboard and touch buttons. Leather seats came as standard.
It wasn’t cheap when it was first launched, initially on sale from £32,995. Today, used prices have dwindled to around £7000, like the one-owner 2012 Electron car with 73,000 miles that we found. Plenty of examples have complete service histories, too. Overall, it’s a smart-looking car and, at that price, a solid (and still relevant) entry point to the world of electric vehicles.
Lexus RX 400h SE-L £7950: The RX 400h has seen many changes throughout its production run, but this 2008 model packs some good options, including climate control, black leather trim, heated seats and sat-nav. It’s powered by a petrol V6 plus an electric motor at each axle.
Honda CR-Z £4290: Even as something with a more overt sporting bent, this 122bhp, 1.5-litre Honda CR-Z will return 56.4mpg. We found this 87,000-mile car with a detailed service history for less than £5000, despite some harder-driven examples selling for far higher sums.
Mercedes C300 Hybrid Estate AMG Line Premium £17,450: A diesel hybrid might not be your first idea when you think of clean energy, but this two-owner 2017 C-Class can own your work commute in style, while returning up to 68.0mpg. It’s done 60,513 miles in four years, but does come with a full service history.
Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid £19,999: This 2011 Cayenne has 100,000 miles under its wheels and can now be bought for a third of its original £66,000 asking price. It certainly looks the part with its tan leather interior, and Porsche’s auto ’box makes for supremely refined cruising.
Suzuki Cappuccino: With its 50:50 weight distribution and tipping the scales at just 725kg, Suzuki’s tiny Cappuccino roadster was popular on release. It made use of a turbocharged 660cc engine producing a meagre 63bhp, but still managed to hit 62mph from rest in 8.9sec. Only 1100 examples made it to the UK after its release in 1992, and silver ones like this 1994 example are especially rare, originally outnumbered four to one by the more popular red cars. It sold for a strong £8100 thanks to its exterior and engine, both in good condition after 22 years of very light use and garage storage.
Honda Integra Type R £16,985: It may not match up to the more radical sports offerings of today, but Honda’s hot Integra offered a truly unique driving experience as a stripped-out road-racer, with a 187bhp 1.8-litre VTEC engine. A top speed of 145mph and a 0-62mph time of 6.7sec helped to make it an entertaining track car, with all of its available power delivered at 8000rpm. The lack of vanity mirrors, cruise control and rear wipers clearly doesn’t put off owners, who instead revel in the Integra’s pure driving experience, such as that offered by this 2003 model with 60,000 miles.
Class of the classifieds
Volvo V70 2.4D £2995
Felix Page: Handsome, poky and none too thirsty, this big old Volvo brick is exactly what you need. I’ve gone for the 2.4-litre diesel, which the seller claims can muster 41mpg, so James won’t tarnish his trip around the world with too many fuel stops. It’s a perfect blank canvas for all your comical rally decals.
Max Adams: Middle England may have grown to love a Volvo estate, but what they actually covet is a Mercedes-Benz, like my selection. This 2004 E320 CDI pulls more than yours, because it has not only a beefier engine but also a greater cargo capacity: 695 litres with seats up to the V70’s 485.
FP: For sure, it’s a lovely thing, but wouldn’t James be a bit worried about such a posh car getting scraped on the trip by a Tunisian taxi driver or a Mongolian motorcyclist? Stunning though my Volvo is, I reckon it would look even more characterful with some peeling stickers and battle scars.
MA: Look, I doubt that the S211-generation E-Class will ever reach the classic status of the S124, so nobody will care about an extra ding or two during James’s epic rally. Besides, my Benz is better for wafting than a manual Volvo will ever be.
MA: Hostel? Surely you mean a hotel with a five-star rating? Anyway, speaking of stars – James…
Verdict: That Volvo is a boxy box-ticker. I’ll take it.