A few years ago GM’s electric car seemed like the vehicle we’d all be driving in the brave new world of hybrids, a Prius killer that could save the troubled company if GM could just hang on long enough. GM is only now starting to let civilians drive the thing and some of them are wondering whether the Volt hasn’t lost its spark.
It’s not entirely clear when we’ll be able to buy the car, and how much we’ll have to pay. In the meantime, Nissan has the Leaf, Toyota has the plug-in Prius, Honda has the P-NUT (!) and GM has a lot to worry about.
Having said that, we note Engadget took the Volt for a very short spin around a parking structure and found it to be sportier than expected, interesting and perhaps even worthy of a little cautious optimism. —PZS
Move the curiously oversized shifter past P, R, and N and you get to D, then it’s time to move. Pulling away from a start is smooth and nearly silent, with only the distant whirr of a dynamo reminding us that this wasn’t a solid-state machine. Before long the supplementary 1.4 liter gasoline engine made its presence known as we drove up a parking ramp, the battery cells drained by the other test drivers on this day. Even when that was on, however, the driving experience was very quiet.
We were given an opportunity to put the Volt into sport mode (adding about 20 25 more horsepower) and romp on it a bit, and when driven in this way the car definitely responds. Unfortunately we barely topped 50 before running out of parking lot, but the acceleration, particularly from a stop, is far more responsive than your average economy car. What kind of top-range punch that electric motor can deliver remains to be seen, however. Handling was also decent, with very little body roll thanks to the heavy batteries being mounted low beneath the passenger seats and along the transmission tunnel. It’s not a sports car by any means, but it did feel sporty enough to keep things interesting.