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Holden Volt EV hatch 2012 review

The best thing that can be said about driving the Volt is there is little difference.

The Holden Volt offers drivers to perfect reasoning for never queuing at a service station again. Even better, owning one of these means you won't be topping up the annual profits of already highly profit-able oil companies.

Value

Built in the United States, the Holden Volt has a recommended price of $59,990, plus on-road charges and will be subject to Holden’s capped service fees. The charging is as easy as topping up a mobile phone; by plugging it into a conventional domestic 10 Amp power point for six to ten hours, costing as little as $2.50. A 15 Amp connection brings the full charge time down to four hours.

The lithium-ion battery, developed in conjunction with the LG Chemical Company, can also gain charge from regenerative braking in which energy lost while the brakes are applied is converted to electricity stored in the battery.

Occupants are cradled in four deep and highly supportive leather upholstered seats (heated at the front) and benefit from electronic climate control air-conditioning, while the driver has access to keyless entry and engine start, front and rear park assist and rear-view camera. He or she can also activate the pedestrian-friendly alert system.

A sophisticated infotainment system makes use of two dashboard-mounted 7-inch full colour LCD screens which deal with satellite navigation, Bluetooth, USB with iPod connectivity, a 30GB disk drive and DVD player. Many of these functions can be operated through voice recognition.

The cabin is lined with top quality plastic material (weight is the enemy, remember), while Bose Energy Efficient Series speakers use 50 per cent less energy than comparable Bose systems, yet sound remains 100 per cent crystal clear. The centre stack control panel is touch operated; while the screen directly in front of the driver is used to display info on speed, battery and fuel levels, tyre pressure and trip computers.

Technology

Holden Volt is an electric vehicle that does away with ‘range anxiety’ that’s suffered by some who drive pure electric cars. That’s because it has two sources of energy – a battery that allows an electric motor alone to drive the car up to 87 kilometres and a petrol generator that can produce electricity to keep the vehicle moving for up to 600 kilometres on a single charge and a full tank (35.2 litres) of premium (95 RON) fuel.

The latter, a 1.4-litre petrol motor, extends the range by maintaining a charge in the battery to power the wheels until the battery can be externally charged or the Volt refuelled. The petrol engine doesn’t power the wheels directly.

Design

Apart from all of the above the Volt is a conventional car with the ability to carry up to four occupants in quiet comfort, something highlighted on an inner city drive program for the motoring media in Sydney that we thoroughly enjoyed. Based on the Holden Cruze platform, the quality of fit and finish inside and out is high.

The Holden Volt rolls on 17-inch alloy wheels and features projector headlamps, LED daytime running lights and an integrated rear spoiler. There is no engine compartment cooling through a radiator grille. That is achieved by directing a flow of air under the bonnet from underneath the vehicle.

Safety

Safety is paramount, with the Volt calling on a cohort of hi-tech systems to take care of people both inside and outside the vehicle. Occupants are protected in the event of a crash by high-strength steel body crush zones and eight airbags. Electronic stability and traction control look to preventing these ‘unscheduled incidents’ together with the latest technology such as lane departure warnings which alert the driver to wandering out of a lane without signalling.

Front sensors can be set to one of three distances from a vehicle ahead. If the Volt edges too close, an alarm will sound. There is also a driver activated alert that warns pedestrians of the almost-silent car approaching at low speed.

Driving

In the absence of a traditional transmission, electric propulsion, delivered seamlessly through the front wheels, gives the vehicle instant maximum torque off the mark resulting in quick and immediate acceleration. An extra level of interaction is on tap, showing a moving ball efficiency gauge that if kept in the centre of the scale shows the vehicle is being driven to optimal efficiency.

The touch screen atop the centre console displays real-time information on energy use and power flow, plus advanced efficiency feedback based on driving style, climate settings and energy usage.

Drivers can take advantage of three driving modes – Normal, Sport and Hold – at the press of a steering wheel-mounted button. Sport enhances Normal mode to give an exhilarating driving experience courtesy of added response times and heightened feedback. ‘Hold’ conserves battery power, drawing an electric charge from the petrol generator to drive the wheels.

Verdict

The best thing that can be said about driving the Volt is there is little difference, apart from super fuel efficiency and, for the most part, absence of engine noise, to a conventional car.

Pricing guides

$13,110
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$10,600
Highest Price
$15,620

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
EV —, Hyb/ULP, CVT AUTO $10,600 – 15,620 2012 Holden Volt 2012 EV Pricing and Specs