Chevrolet has just launched its Volt range-extending electric car in the UK. The five-door is mechanically identical to its Vauxhall Ampera sister car. That means it gets the same clever drivetrain, which has an electric motor to drive the wheels and a traditional 1.4-litre petrol engine to keep the lithium-ion batteries at their minimum charge until you can plug in to a power socket.
On the move, the system is very effective. The powerful 148bhp electric motor provides seamless, silent acceleration, and the batteries will last for around 40 miles before the petrol engine fires quietly and unobtrusively into life to add a claimed 250 miles to the range.
Even when the petrol engine is feeding the battery pack, the Volt is a relaxing and refined cruiser, thanks in no small part to the lack of wind and road noise. And while the ride is a little firm, it rarely becomes too uncomfortable.
The Chevrolet also feels composed and predictable through corners, although the brakes could do with having more feel.
The Volt gets the same solidly built and futuristically designed four-seat cabin as the Ampera, while on the outside is Chevy’s trademark grille, plus a contrasting black finish for the roof panel. Our test car benefited from eye-catching £490 chrome alloy wheels.
There’s only one trim, which costs a hefty £29,995 including the £5,000 Government grant. That’s the same as the entry-level version of the Vauxhall, which does without the Chevy’s standard heated leather seats.
However, low CO2 emissions of 27g/km make the Volt a very cheap company car choice. And if you can charge up once a day, it’ll significantly cut fuel bills.