2014 Chevrolet Spark EV: Sneak peek at quick-charging rocket
November 16, 2012
by Gerry Malloy
General Motors will officially reveal its Chevrolet Spark EV battery-electric vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show Nov. 29. But I got behind the wheel of a near-production prototype.
Today’s electric vehicles (EVs) are no longer the glorified golf-carts of their early predecessors. They are real cars with all the qualities, features and characteristics of their siblings except that they’re powered electrically. Such is the case for the Spark EV.
Getting in the car and firing it up, I followed the same ritual as for a regular Spark. Except that, pushing the start button resulted only in the instrument cluster lighting up.
There was no sound of an engine coming to life, or of electronic control systems buzzing or whining as commonly happened in more primitive iterations of many electric vehicles.
In lieu of an idling engine, an orange light in the cluster signalled that the car was ready to go, so I shifted into drive — via a conventional PRNDS shifter — released the electric parking brake, squeezed the accelerator pedal, and we were off. Smoothly.
My first surprise, on a slightly winding bit of the driving course, was that steering seemed both moderately boosted and precise, with an agreeable level of feel and feedback — not always the case with electrically power-assisted systems.
The next surprise was over the braking, where the usual non-linearity in response that identifies a regenerative braking system — which helps recharge the batteries — just wasn’t apparent. It felt like a normal car.
But the biggest surprise came when I turned onto a moderate length straightaway and tipped into the “throttle.” The Spark leaped, with hot-hatch-like performance.
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