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Discussion Starter #1
Had the car a few days and loving it. Having come from a Renaultsport Megane 250 it's a big change in driving style. I have tried Sport a few times but just to get away from the lights. Because the handling will nowhere near match the 'hot hatch' a lot of beans would be wasted and could bite me!

But I'm not that bothered; the Ampera lends itself to steady relaxed cruising. My wife described it as 'like a tram'. Folks in Nottingham, Manchester and Sheffield will know what I mean. The adrenaline rush has been replaced by 'playing' with the range. I'm a very anticipatory driver that sees braking as a waste of energy (and fuel) and used to coast to lights in ICEs. I've always got pretty good fuel economy out of my cars.

I'm noticing that I'm always getting more miles than it estimates; yes the trip is still learning as it was a new car but I think I'm doing very well with regen. When approaching lights or a queue I come off the pedal and if I do have to break then I use L mode just in time....so I'm hardly ever using the brake pedal.

Is this a valid driving/regen strategy and do others do it?
 

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I'm noticing that I'm always getting more miles than it estimates; yes the trip is still learning as it was a new car but I think I'm doing very well with regen. When approaching lights or a queue I come off the pedal and if I do have to break then I use L mode just in time....so I'm hardly ever using the brake pedal.

Is this a valid driving/regen strategy and do others do it?
There is no need to be concerned about using the brakes. Unless you are braking like a maniac the brake system uses regen and provides a variable regen depending on the rate of deceleration. Generally there is nothing to be gained by using L rather than the brakes other than the enjoyment it might give you. The mechanical brakes are not used until the deceleration exceeds the capability that regen can provide.
 

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I sometimes switch to L mode to slow but the fact is that there is no real difference to flicking it into L and gently pressing the brake pedal.

Look at the green ball when braking. You will see an animation of the world spinning on the ball. If you brake hard the globe animation will disappear. At that point you are using the mechanical brakes. So, if you don't want to flick it into L just press the brake pedal and if you can see the globe spinning then you are still just using regen.

The big advaltage of L mode though is that it will never use the mechanical brakes until you press the pedal there by preventing you using the mechanical brakes accidentally which you could do in D mode so I suppose that is a help :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thanks for clearing that up Paul and LK13, I'll gently dab the brakes and keep my eye on the flow meter just to see if there's any difference.
 
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Discussion Starter #5
So L is best used for stop start traffic?
 

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I agree with what's been said by Paul and LK13: as far as regen is concerned, there is very little difference between braking or using "L" to slow down gently (even firmly). I concur that using "L" will avoid using the friction brakes as much as possible, but chances are that unless you're braking very hard in "D" the end-result is probably very-much the same. I prefer to use "L" over braking in "D" when I don't want the brake lights coming on. So, if I'm headed down a steep hill for a long while or if I'm coming-off of a motorway ("freeway" in the US) and I don't want the brake lights lit-up the entire time, then I use "L".
 

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Be careful when using L with someone close behind you. They might not realise how fast you are slowing down as the brake lights do not come on.
 

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We drive nearly all of the time in L, I find it the most relaxing way as we almost never use the brakes. Infact I tend to drop into D only when I notice stationary traffic a long way off to give a slower glid to a halt pushing back into L as I either need to stop or pull away. One of the things I like about it in an emergancy is the feeling that as soon as you lift off the power the car is already starting to brake for you. It might only make a foot of difference in stopping distance but if that foot is at the end of the bonnet then its quite an important foot.
 

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The difference between "D" and "L" has to do with how the brake pedal and the accelerator pedal govern acceleration and regen. "L" is much more aggressive on regen than "D". Driving normally in "L" will typically be less-smooth unless you're very good at controlling very small movements on the accelerator.

Similarly, the difference between "Normal" and "Sport" mode has to do with how the accelerator pedal governs acceleration. As you know, in "Sport" the acceleration is noticeably stronger with equivalent pressure on the pedal.

The difference between "Normal" and "Mountain" is that charge-sustaining mode kicks in at 40% SOC instead of 30%. Thus, the generator tries to maintain enough charge to handle very steep inclines.

So you can use a combination of "D" and "L" with "Normal", "Sport", and "Mountain" to achieve the driving and riding experience that you want. Understand, however, that the net effect on kWh/petrol usage per-mile will likely be very comparable between any combination as long as the overall technique is the same. Again, these variables are more-intended for your driving experience than for energy conservation.
 

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I drive in L all the time and I'm sure there is even more regen available that you get when you lift off the accelerator - I regularly go down a long straight hill and if I brake gently the central energy flow indicator (the one that was new for 2013/2014) indicates even more input to the battery. Also not convinced that green leaves on ball = regen, no green leaves = mechanical brakes - in the same situation I can get an orange ball just from regen.
 

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you can also be going down a hill in L but you find you want to speed up a bit. If you put your foot on the throttle you are just releasing and modulating the amount of regen using the throttle
 

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A good mix is Sport Mode and L... I use that quite a lot. Quite a fun mode :)

I agree with @Lee Howard, Sport vs Normal and D vs L is really all about pedal mapping. If you understand what they do and drive accordingly then you will probably get similar range in any combination of modes however, it is easier to get good range in some combinations that others and which one you prefer is pretty much down to personal taste.

However, I use Normal Mode and D most of the time as @AndyG says... it makes a gliding stop/slow easier and that is the best way to maximise range.

@Bruce Tanner There is always the same amount of regen available in all modes AFAIK... it is just that what you have to do with the pedals to get it is different between the modes. I was told about the green ball by a Vauxhall Technical Specialist (not a garage mechanic!). I would like to know the facts but there seems to be very little reliable info on all this.
 

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We all have our own pet theories so many different opinions. My view is that when slowing down from x MPH to y MPH you will recover exactly the same energy however you do it - D, L or gentle brakes. Its physics. Which you use is personal driving style or what suits
 
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