Style Comparison: Chevy Volt vs. Opel Ampera

As our 2011 Automobile of the Year, the Chevy Volt has impressed us on many levels. In Europe, the Volt is sold as the Ampera under GM’s Opel and Vauxhall brands. Though the cars are mechanically identical, the Ampera and Volt each get unique styling tailored for their respective markets. The Volt impressed us last year with its blend of technology, packaging, and design, and the car’s overseas counterpart is also easy on the eyes. But which one is the better-looking of the two? Check out the photos in the gallery below and decide for yourself.

Chevy’s version features a conservatively futuristic front end, with narrow HID headlights and a black lower front spoiler. The grille is comprised of horizontal slats with a simulated mesh pattern while the bowtie emblem is front and center, reminding you the car is part of the Chevy family. The Ampera’s front end, on the other hand, looks like it could have been styled by Alice Cooper, with the blacked-out portions of its fascia jutting down like running eye makeup. The Ampera also gets a slender chrome grille, which features either Vauxhall’s griffin emblem or the Opel lightning bolt. The lower intake opening is outlined in black for a visual tie-in with the black bumper accents below the headlights.

In back, the Volt has narrow taillights, a blacked-out hatch, and a squared-off rear bumper. The Ampera gets a more aggressively styled rear bumper, with reflectors molded to resemble vents, and a black cutout in the center that apes the look of a few sportier cars. The hatch is two-tone, with the portion below the horizontal chrome accent piece painted body-color, and the part between the taillights up to the rear spoiler blacked out.

Inside, it becomes harder to distinguish between the two models. Both cars use a glossy plastic for the door trim, and feature an interior layout that’s practically identical. The steering wheel on the Chevy has an opening in its central spoke, while the Ampera’s is of a more solid, conventional design.

Which one do you think has the styling edge? See our side-by-side photos in the gallery below and cast your vote in the comments section. (The Volt is on the left, the Ampera on the right.)

Overall, I think the Ampera looks better than the Volt. If the prototype Volt was built that would really have been a winner, but as usual, the production version is always dumbed down. Interesting comment about rear amber signals. Guess it depends on what you're used to. In the US front lights are amber, rear lights are red. In bad weather on a two-way road what direction is the car on the side of the road heading? The standard is, if the signal lights are amber the car is facing you, if they're red it's facing away from you.
High Efficiency Racing Performance Exhaust System. My car has HERPES.
They're both ripoffs of the Subaru SVX, and they look as dated. They look like 80s cars. The Ampera is better, as all Chevys have to have the same, ugly fascia that ensures that whatever you paid, it looks like the cheapest Chevy made.
You mention the huge "VOLT" decals on some cars. In my post I mention the 80's style window-treatments. Do you think the makers are trying to bring on a nostalgia for 80's design? If so, you would think that they would bring back some of the GOOD parts of 80's car design, not the worst elements. What's next, rear window louvers? I remember Mazda nearly marketed an RX7 in the US with a limited-slip differential that announced the fact in huge letters on the doors: LSD. Sadly, somebody caught it before it hit the lots.
In my view, both have major flaws that have to do with visual honesty. The Volt's fake grill looks fake. The blacked-out section under its side glass is utterly pathetic, reminding of the 80's Ford EXP/Mercury LN7 (remember those?) and of the 80's in general. On the Ampera, the fake grill looks real, and nicely done. The headlight/bumper design is fun and interesting, but again not visually honest. If the black section below each headlight was completely built to look like an intake, not just part of the bumper painted black, it would have worked better. The Ampera also suffers from the deplorable side-window treatment. The rear of the car has a clean and attractive design except for the blacked-out fake diffuser boyracer cheeseball oh please. The Ampera is a better job overall, but either car is best ordered in negate the awful style manipulations as much as possible.
Awah the Ampera is crying. The grill is slightly better, the bumper is far better, the rest is crap.
The Ampera looks better. The front end looks sweet to me, and is certainly distinctive. You can't argue the back end. Chevy breaks up the blocky back end by bringing the tail glass all the way to the bumper. A pretty dorky move and reminiscent of the Aztek. The Opel's is much sportier and better composed. I agree with Jerry's comments too. It's embarrassing that marketing departments think so little of us Americans. Unfortunately, they're right. The general population here is quite unsophisticated.
Jerry Stigliano
I not only like the look of the Ampera much better, but the name, too. I'm not a big Chevrolet fan to begin with (I'll take any other GM division, however), but their conservative job just doesn't do it for me. Further, I've been seeing a number of Volts on lots with the name "Volt" printed in huge letters on the front doors. Tacky. As if tattooing the name on the side will entice buyers for some reason, I can't imagine why anyone would like that. FInally, I'm always disgusted that American cars often opt for red rear turn signals instead of sportier and safer amber signals. To be sure: you'll never confuse turning intentions of a vehicle with rear amber signals, but you would red ones. Are they tapping their brakes? Is a bulb out so you don't know a turn signal from a brake lamp? Absurd. Oh but then after a few model years they'll add amber signals to give it an "updated" or "European" appearance. Good grief. The bottom line is I always like the UK and European versions of cars with a US origin. Why not make one car and that's that?
Rusty Blackwell
I think the Opel looks a lot cooler, although I'm not so keen about the bags under its eyes.

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