Vauxhall Ampera Takes on Highest Hills in UK
In days gone by, the Automobile Association maintained a well halfway up the Cairnwell Pass between Perth and Braemar. On a warm day on Britain’s highest pass, overheated engines steamed like kettles and owners would wind up a bucket of water to refill the radiator. Back then, traversing hills was not something you took for granted.
So when General Motors announced that its newest and cleverest car, the Ampera, might struggle to maintain full power on hills and required a special Mountain Mode to clear some summits at a respectable speed, we rubbed our hands in glee. This was a chance to trial a brand-new car in the way they used to when King Edward VII was on the throne. We headed for Scotland and the notorious 1:3 (33 per cent) Devil’s Elbow on the Cairnwell Pass, once tackled by monarchs en route to the Balmoral estate.
So far, the debate about the Ampera has surrounded whether it is a true hybrid or a range-extending battery car as its maker, General Motors, would have us believe. However, far more interesting and controversial is why this apogee of battery-electric technology should require a helping hand to get up hills.
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