I was very disappointed to be returning the Holden Volt to Holden's Salmon St Headquarters. I really enjoyed my time with that car and the report is writing itself. I found myself driving slower the closer I got - like being sent to the headmaster's office.
But my disappointment is shortlived. I liked the 2012 TM Barina for it's good looks, solid equipment list and roominess not to mention safety rating and features for a car in the sub-smallcar class. Whatever it's results in the hands of other testers, it caused the competition to sharpen their pencils and slash prices and/or load up with equipment and it's been a solid seller for GM worldwide.
Now, Holden've ratchetted it up a notch or two. Not only does the CDX come with Sportec-trimmed, heated sports seats with bigger bolsters, more geegaws like park assist, more chromey bling, leather-trimmed steeringwheel and a nicer sound system, but it also is the first Holden to come equipped with GM's new MyLink colour 7" touchscreen and app-streaming platform. It doesn't just do phone and sound.
But the big, big news from an enthusiast point of view, is it's now point-and-shoot! New 17" rims that look similar to the Aveo RS Concept, stickier treads, lower ride with recallibrated spring/shock/rollbar and sharper steering geometry have combined with revised gearbox code and what feels like different throttle-mapping. The CD's quickness to upshift in search of economy and smoothness is replaced with a prediliction to hold gears in cornering and bang down rapidly on demand. Although there is no more power on paper although it feels like it's been given a tickle, it's much more on-tap; even in the confines of town, the fun-factor of carving intersecting street corners while sitting flat and composed has just gone up tenfold- in the right gear to kill understeer and light up the inside tyre in corners! It's so tossable it should have been a stunt-dwarf in 'The Hobbit'!
Add the lower ride height and bigger rolling stock, it looks the part, too. To quote Darth Vader: "Impressive, most impressive".