When the Chevrolet Volt concept was unveiled at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show, most people thought the automaker wouldn’t follow through. And yet, a production version of the car appeared three years later. General Motors kept its promise the Bob Lutz’s dream became a reality. Better yet, the overall execution was impressive.
Despite racking up many prestigious awards, sales have always been lukewarm at best. The car’s high price and the consumer’s lack of trust in GM’s new technologies partially explain its limited appeal. This year, Chevrolet is presenting us the second generation of the Volt, and it comes with many improvements.
Conservative looks, sensible cockpit
To quote a GM representative, the first Volt was the result of a “scientific project.” This time around, stylists gave the car a look that blends in better with Chevrolet’s other products, and they created an attractive – if unspectacular – vehicle.
Inside, the Volt’s dashboard is all new. The appliance-like switchgear in the previous generation has been ditched, and the overall appearance is more modern and more user-friendly. However, the eco-drive display has been overhauled and the result is underwhelming.
It’s also worth noting that the front seats are comfortable, but the middle rear seat is purely symbolic.
More modern combustion engine
The first-generation Volt was technically sophisticated, with one exception being its iron-block combustion engine and its conventional injection system. This time, GM chose an all-new 1.5-litre engine with an aluminum block and direct injection. It weighs 45 kg less than the old 1.4L engine it replaces. The lithium-ion battery pack is composed of fewer cells, but it’s more powerful and provides the car with an estimated range of 80 km. The drivetrain still boasts two electric motors, one of which acting as an inverter.
The Volt still shares its platform with the Buick Verano and the Chevrolet Cruze. However, it’s not stiffer while the hydraulic engine mounts have been abandoned for enhanced road feel.
Thanks to numerous modifications, the Volt’s ride has been improved. Its forward movement is still provided by a 149-horsepower electric motor, and passengers benefit from the comfort of an EV without having to worry about depleting the batteries. Road manners are good and the braking system is more linear than before. Last but not least, a Regen On Demand paddle mounted on the steering wheel allows some energy regeneration when the car is slowing down. And if that’s not enough, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt offers Apple CarPlay integration and autonomous park assist.
Still, the car’s steering is vaguer than it used to be. Nothing is perfect.