Saturday, 3 April 2010

Chevrolet Volt (2011)


So what exactly is the 2011 Chevrolet Volt? It's a question we get all the time. A confusing array of claims and rumors have been swirling around this car since it debuted as a concept a few years back, so we're not surprised that people aren't clear on what the Volt is all about. Here's the long and short of it: The Volt is a four-seat, four-door "series plug-in hybrid" hatchback with a plug-in battery pack that can power the car's 149-horsepower (111-kilowatt) electric motor by itself for up to 40 miles. After that, the gasoline- or E85-powered four-cylinder generator powers the motor for as many as 300 additional miles. All told, the Volt is quite possibly the most fuel-efficient car you will be able to buy. The 2011 Chevrolet Volt is a midsize five-door hatchback sedan with seating for four. Standard features are likely to include a fixed glass sunroof, a trip computer, full power accessories, keyless ignition, dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a split-folding rear seatback, cruise control, Bluetooth, the OnStar telecommunications service, a back-up camera and a CD stereo with a video display, an auxiliary audio jack, a built-in hard drive and a USB port. A hard-drive-based navigation system is optional. The front-wheel-drive 2011 Volt is powered by an electric motor rated at 149 hp (111 kilowatts) and 273 pound-feet of torque. This motor draws power from a lithium-ion battery pack until the battery charge is 70 percent depleted. At that point, the Volt's 1.4-liter four-cylinder internal combustion engine, which runs on either gasoline or E85, comes to life as a replacement power source for the electric motor. The battery can only be completely recharged through either a 120-volt or 240-volt outlet, but regenerative braking and the engine generator can replenish it slightly. There is no transmission in the traditional sense; rather, the Volt employs a single reduction gear to send the electric motor's power to the front wheels. GM projects a 0-60-mph sprint of 8.5 to 9 seconds with full battery power. Safety features on the 2011 Chevy Volt include antilock brakes, stability control, front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. The 2011 Chevrolet Volt's distinctive center stack appears to have been modeled after various personal electronic devices with touch-sensitive buttons. It looks less like an automotive control panel than an oversized iPod, which we applaud; after all, people spending this much money on a vehicle will likely expect a little something special inside. There's plenty of technology involved, too, including a standard color display with a built-in hard drive. In terms of functionality, the Volt's main controls are fairly intuitive, and the futuristic gauge readout is easy enough to read at a glance. There's also a nice little ball -- sort of like the bubble in a water level -- that helps you stay in the most fuel-efficient driving range. It's big and green when you are conserving fuel or battery energy and smaller and angry orange-yellow when you're not. Rear passenger space is adequate for two adults, though some families may miss the middle seat. The Volt's hatchback design is convenient for loading cargo, but maximum capacity (10.6 cubic feet) is limited by the swooping rear roof line and the 396-pound T-shaped battery pack that resides in the trunk and between the rear seats. We have yet to experience a final production Volt interior, so its materials quality and construction will have to be critiqued at a later date. The 2011 Chevrolet Volt has good pickup off the line and at moderate speeds, as is typical of electric-motored cars. Its 273 lb-ft of torque is available any old time you plant the throttle. It is a competitive electric vehicle when driving in all-electric mode -- it's as quiet and smooth as any EV we've driven -- and it seems a competent vehicle when the engine-generator kicks in. The change-over from battery charge to generator power can be difficult to notice, though the pre-production Volts we've driven do have a disconcerting generator noise level; the engine revs regardless of engine speed. But GM promises production models will be less noticeable in this regard. The Volt feels slightly nose-heavy when you bend it around a corner, but it makes its moves with little body roll. The brake pedal operates seamlessly as it modulates regenerative and conventional braking, which is a real accomplishment. Indeed, from the compliance of its ride quality to the weight and response of the steering, this Chevy Volt drives more naturally and feels more substantial than hybrids like the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius.


  • Engine: Electric drive with a 1.4-liter 4-cylinder charging the lithium-ion battery pack.
  • Horsepower: 150
  • Torque: 273 lb-ft
  • Base Number of Cylinders: 4
  • Base Engine Size: 1.4 liters.
  • Base Engine Type: Inline 4
  • Drive Type: FWD.
  • Top speed (mph): 100
  • EV range, city (miles): 40 (based on EPA city cycle).
  • Length: 177 in.
  • Width: 70.8 in.
  • Height: 56.3 in.
  • Wheel Base: 105.7 in.
  • Maximum Cargo Capacity: 11 cu. ft.
  • Maximum Seating: 4
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: Gal.
  • EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined).


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