The 148bhp electric motor gives a stonking 273lb ft of torque, all of which is available the instant the car starts moving. As a result, the pickup feels instantaneous, brisk and linear – everything you want, really. Because the wheels are always driven by the electric motor, it feels no different with the petrol engine running.
The Volt has a comfortable ride most of the time. Things can feel a little jittery at low speeds, but it soaks up bigger bumps brilliantly and feels settled on the motorway. There’s some body lean to be felt in bends and the steering could do with more weight and feel, but the plentiful grip means the car always feels secure.
Efficiency aside, this is the Volt’s biggest strength. The drivetrain is silent most of the time, and even when the petrol engine is called into action, it stays impressively hushed unless you really push it. The switch between the two modes is almost imperceptible. Road and wind noise is very well contained, too, so the Volt is an extremely quiet, relaxed way to travel.
The Volt is expensive, even after the £5000 Government grant you get towards it, but it’s cheaper to buy than the almost-identical Vauxhall Ampera. There’s huge uncertainty over resale values, too. Still, the overall fuel consumption of 235mpg means it’ll be cheap to run even if you regularly rely on the petrol engine to generate power. You’ll pay no road tax or congestion charge in London, and you’ll only incur company car tax on 5% of its value.
The cabin is covered with hard plastics, so they don’t feel particularly tactile. That said, they look smart enough, and the build quality feels impressively solid. There shouldn’t be too many worries about reliability, either – the battery and drivetrain are covered by an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty, while the rest of the car is protected for five years/100,000 miles.
The Volt comes with no less than eight airbags to help keep you safe in a crash, and the standard stability control should help prevent you having one in the first place. All this helped the car achieve a five-star crash rating from Euro NCAP. Because the Volt runs silently on battery power, the driver can activate a chirping sound to warn pedestrians of its approach.
There’s lots of adjustment for the driver’s seat, so you’ll find a comfortable driving position. You won’t find decent rear visibility too easy to come by, though, because the rear screen is tiny and the pillars are thick. The dash is frustrating – it has touch-sensitive icons on the fascia rather than buttons, but they’re awkward to use and not quite sensitive enough.
Considering all the technology the Volt is carrying, and the space it takes up, the cabin is reasonably roomy, with lots of head- and legroom. However, many rivals are roomier, and most have three seats in the back while the Volt has only two. The boot is reasonably spacious at 310 litres.
The Volt comes packed with luxury kit, which takes a little of the sting out of the high price. You get air-conditioning, Bluetooth, keyless entry, alloys, cruise control and a reversing camera as standard, along with a DAB digital radio and heated leather seats. Options include sat-nav.
Order a brochure, find your nearest dealer or book a test drive