The original Chevrolet Volt plug-in became a technological beacon of advanced engineering light after GM’s darkest days, then eventually became Canada’s best-selling vehicle that could be re-fueled by plugging into your garage outlet.
This second-generation 2016 Chevrolet Volt drives a more evolutionary path, with more all-electric range, better fuel efficiency from now regular gas, and a tiny-but-there fifth seat. Plus, it learns some great tricks from the much pricier Cadillac ELR in the process.
As before, the Volt is Bentley-quiet when running on electricity, which it can now do for up to 85 real-world kilometres for about $2.50 worth of electricity, though that electric range will drop noticeably in frozen-over winter temperatures.
Volt owners hate using gasoline, and GM estimates this change will mean that they will go from driving about 80 per cent on electricity to closer to 98 per cent.
As such, the engine can be set to not start until a lower minus 10 degrees Celsius, although we discovered that heat pumps into the cabin much quicker now by hitting the new engine ‘Hold’ mode, as first seen on the ELR.
Also filtering down from the Cadillac is the regeneration paddle on the left of the steering wheel, which adds extra juice to the battery while simultaneously slowing the car down, to the point where you can almost stop by paddle.
When you do finally have to use liquid fuel, the Volt now uses less of it, averaging an overall 5.6 L/100km – amazingly frugal when you combine it with the Volt’s instant urge, courtesy of its 149 hp 1.5L engine, plus two electric motors that make up a 294 lb-ft of torque party.
Starting at a relatively lofty (for a compact Chevy) $38,390, keep in mind the 2016 Volt’s out-the-door price for many is much less, thanks to provincial clean car rebates of $5,000 (BC), $8,000 (Quebec) or $8,500 (Ontario), plus up to $1,000 back to install charging stations in central Canada. The Kinteic Blue Metallic paint adds $455.
Combine that futuristic drivetrain with a similarly advanced interior that offers wireless phone charging, embedded Wi-Fi and Apple CarPlay, and this Volt will be as tempting to tech enthusiasts as environmentalists.