What is it? The Chevrolet Volt is a range-extending electric car. Electricity always powers the car, but unlike other electric vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf or Renault Fluence, the Volt has a small petrol engine that provides additional electricity to power the motor for longer journeys.
The Volt, therefore, will go for as long as you have fuel in the tank, just like a regular car.
Its clever technology completely removes range-anxiety from buyers, and that's why we gave the virtually identical Vauxhall Ampera our Green Car of the Year 2011 award.
This is the first time we've driven the Volt in the UK, albeit a left-hand-drive model.
What's it like to drive? Pretty good actually. The car's 273lb ft of torque is available right from the off, so performance is perky around town.
Refinement is top-notch, too, with the car virtually silent for the 50 or so miles you travel in electric-only mode. Even when the 1.4 petrol engine does kick in, engine noise is never an issue.
The steering will take a little getting used to. You have to continually make small corrections to keep the car going straight.
There's some body lean in corners, too, and rough road surfaces are felt in the cabin, too. Big potholes don't overly unsettle the car, but you'll feel constant little judders through the seat and steering wheel on uneven surfaces.
What's it like inside? While some car makers have decided to make their electric vehicles as conventional as possible, Chevrolet has gone the other way to emphasise the Volt's futuristic, cutting-edge credentials.
When you get into the car, the infotainment display lights up, and there's a suitably swooshy sound effect. There are more aural delights when you switch on and switch off the car.
Convention isn't thrown completely out of the window, though. The steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake, and the standard leather seats have plenty of adjustment, so most people should be able to get comfortable.
The white centre console takes its design cues from Apple, and some of the controls – such as the climate controls – aren't even buttons, instead having touch-sensitive areas for you to press. It's a case of style over substance here, though, because the console is fiddly and frustrating to use.
Should I buy one? The Volt is an attractive proposition if you're after an electric car. It's cheaper than Vauxhall's Ampera, but comes with more kit. For what it's worth, though, we reckon the Ampera has the Volt beaten for looks.
Range-anxiety is simply not an issue – the Volt can go 340 miles between fuel stops – and charging is a doddle once you get used to fitting it into your regular routine.
You'll like the running costs, too. While electricity tariffs vary, it's estimated that a full charge will cost around £1.50. The Volt is exempt from road tax and the London Congestion Charge, while company car tax will be charged at 5%.
Still, at £28,545 after the maximum Government grant, the Volt is an expensive car – a Ford Focus or VW could offer more practicality and driving fun for a good £10,000 less.
What Car? says...
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