I was thinking, do I do a 1000km report or wait until I pass 1600 (1000 miles). But, being Canadian, better to stick with klicks.
So, we've had the Volt for 3 weeks. Here's an honest rundown about the car. For the lazy, I'll summarize: The car is freakin' amazing!
After 1000kms we've done 84.2% of our driving in electric only mode. We'd have fared better but a couple of long trips ate into our e-only driving.
The oddest feeling with the Volt is that you just keep commuting and never stopping at a gas station. It's been 3 weeks and not a single trip to the gas station. After the G8 and Enclave, where we were filling up nearly weekly, this is a huge change.
Projecting our consumption forward I figure we will fill up for the first time in January after putting 4000kms on the car. I doubt any other type of car can beat that, and be practical long distance, too.
The temperature has been getting colder since we picked up the Volt in October. We've seen a slight drop in electric range. Initially we were always getting more than 60kms, but now it's only my son who can manage that. I tend to get 55km with the temperature outside being about 0 - 10c. I do notice that the Volt gets much better range if you do just city driving -- we've hit 72km that way -- versus highway -- where we seem to drop to 52 - 55. My daily commute includes about 15km of highway driving and 20 regular city roads. I usually have 20km of range left when I get home.
We've also put winter tires on the Volt. We've noticed no difference in range before or after. I was rather surprised by that. The biggest difference is that the winters are on 16" rims so there's a bit more flex. Almost gives the car a bit of a wobble. The standard 17" rims and tires give it a G8 GT like feel while driving.
Driving the car is just pleasant. It just feels composed. A mature, well thought out vehicle with a space-age drivetrain. GM has outdone themselves in making it feel normal. And that's good, because one of the questions a lot of friends ask is "How does it drive? Is it normal?" I think there are a lot of people who think it must drive oddly. The only oddity is that it has the one speed and the lack of shifting is rather weird. After 33 years of dealing with automatics that shift, this has taken some getting used to. But it didn't take long. Now, if I drive the Volt for a while and switch to the Cruze I find the shifts highly noticeable -- as is the engine noise.
The quietness of the car is eery. Again, you get used to it, but it still garners looks ... and other weird occurrences. I've had drivers of Lexus hybrids roll down their windows and stick their heads out as I pass. I guess they're trying to see if it makes noise. Why just Lexus hybrid owners? I don't know. Yesterday I was filmed by a Toyota driver. Again, odd behaviour.
The only time there's noise is when the generator comes online. GM's done a great job subduing the noise of the generator, but it's still there to be heard. It seems to run at one speed and has that typical 4-banger, sewing machine sound. If GM builds a ULS-based Voltec they will need to use an 8 cylinder just to provide a proper soundtrack. The 4-banger won't cut it in my opinion.
One nice feeling is being able to just up and do an errand without worrying that you'll run out of juice. When the generator kicks in it's seamless. The only time I know it's on is if I'm watching the dash and see the battery icon flip to a gas pump icon or when I'm driving with the radio off and I can hear the generator whirring away.
Handling is something that is utterly surprising. I've had the displeasure of being in a Prius. It handles a bit like an ox cart, much like a Corolla. It's uninspired. The Volt, on the other hand, is fantastic. I barely miss my G8 GT. I thought the move from the G8 to the Volt would be more traumatic. However, the overall space-age feel of the Volt makes up for the lack of G8-like oomph -- 8seconds to 60, instead of 5, for example -- but the handling is surprisingly good. I've repeatedly surprised folks by taking turns much faster than they expected. It does handle as if it's on rails, which is due to that huge battery.
In the looks department it is an attractive car. Not as attractive as the Converj, which, truth be told, I wish the Volt looked like . But, it does stand out. People constantly come up and ask about it. Many wonder why it makes no noise while others are curious as to whether the ads are honest in saying you'll use nearly no fuel. When I tell them my mileage -- 1l/100km or about 250mpg -- they go slack jawed. The follow-on question is invariably about going more than the battery distance, at which point I say it has an onboard generator which kicks in seamlessly to take you however far you want to go. The biggest concern from most people is the price, but they are fully intrigued. Those that don't have an issue with the price invariably state they are seriously looking at putting in an order. It's amazing how many of these folks drive imports -- I'd say it's 80-90%. GM has done something impressive, they've got import car lover's attention.
The cost per day seems to be about $0.80 - $1.00. Most of our power in Ontario is nuclear (about 50%) with another 20% being hydro. So, 70% of the electricity is green. It might be higher now since we're importing power from Quebec Hydro which is mostly hydro.
We charge overnight at the off-peak rates. It seems to take about 7-8 hours to charge the car off a standard outlet in our garage.
There are some very nice creature comforts GM has built into the car. The heated seats are set to auto, which means depending on the outside temperature the seats come on when the car comes on. You can override this, but it seems to work well. The climate control can be set to "Eco" or "Comfort" (or manual). We leave it in Eco as it seems perfectly adequate so far. I'll revisit this once true winter kicks in. I have no qualms going to "Comfort" .
The seats are very comfortable and for some reason the Volt seems to have more space inside than our Cruze, at least in shoulder room. I do wish the seats were power and had memory, something that's rather odd. I guess GM wanted to save weight, but it's a rather silly savings in my opinion.
The infotainment system is superb. I was able to sync up my iPhone in a minute. Compared to my brother-in-law's 7-series, which took 20 and was a morass of menus, this was a nice change. I'm so used to having to fight with in-car systems that it was just so nice to do a couple of things and, bam, the phone just worked.
The touchscreen helps a lot in terms of configuring things. It's truly well thought out. I can't believe how quickly I grew accustomed to all the controls.
The centre stack has touch controls as well. My kids worry about whether gloves will work with the stack. Winter will let us know soon enough.
The fact this is a hatch is quite handy. It has allowed us to lug more stuff about. I do find the hatch doesn't go up high enough, but at 6'3" that may just be my problem. My wife finds it quite adequate as she can reach the handle.
Finally, getting used to charging the car was fairly easy. The first week we had to remind each other to plug it in. Now, it's second nature. You get home, you plug it in, you go inside. It's become automatic.
OnStar and XM all work as expected.
Overall, the car is superb. I have no regrets buying it.
For those who want to hear negatives, other than the few minor points above, here they are.
The touch screen is always covered in fingerprints. It's rather annoying when sunlight hits it just right, resulting in a sea of smudges.
The backup sensors are way too sensitive. Backing out of our garage it sounds like we're about to impact something on all sides. It's rather silly that GM made them that obnoxiously sensitive.
The cover over the gear changer is rather cheap. I'm talking about the part where the lever slides up and down through. It's hard plastic. They could've done something to make it a bit nicer, like making it the same plastic that's on the door panels, for example. The rest of the inside is nicely done, with soft touch where you want it and harder plastics where you're more likely to kick or scuff the car.
The glove boxes are both rather puny. The main one in the dash is barely large enough for the manual. The one in the console is fairly deep, but it's not that large overall. That said, the little cubby under/behind the stereo is nice. A good place for sunglasses or gloves.
Other than that, it's perfect. I'm sure more things will crop up as they do with any vehicle, but for a first generation car with a brand new, high tech drivetrain GM could not have done much better. Good on them!