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2013 Holden Volt Review

Joel Helmes road tests and reviews the 2013 Holden Volt.

2013 Holden Volt Review.

It’s a head-turner, a conversation starter, and the 2013 Holden Volt is also a very well executed vehicle.

As you probably know the Holden Volt (which was developed by GM in the US), is an electric car which is charged in three different ways – via a regular household power outlet, regenerative braking and from the vehicles on-board petrol engine (or generator).

The idea is that you plug the Volt in each night, the next day you have about 65 kilometers of battery charge (for most people this covers a trip to and from work etc.). Along the way the electricity use is kept to a minimum thanks to a slipstream body design and regenerative braking.

If you need to venture further you need never worry about finding a recharge point as the petrol engine kicks in and the Volt gives the flexibility of a regular petrol powered vehicle, albeit with super low fuel consumption of just 1.2L/100km!

The science and the theory are both sound – fortunately the execution is also impressive.

For all intents and purposes the Holden Volt is as easy to drive and live with as any other car, it’s just quieter.

The electric drive system gives you slightly sluggish acceleration down low, once up and moving though the Volt provides spirited get-up-and-go. The system really impresses on hills which are taken on with relative ease.

While much of the engineering and design team focus would have been on the complex electric drive system, GM has done a great job getting the ride, braking, steering and suspension all up to scratch as well.

The styling is also quite attractive and because the Holden Volt remains anything but a common sight on the road you can expect plenty of questions from passers-by.

Inside the cabin you will find only four seats. The layout is modern and fresh with a large digital driver info screen providing probably just a little bit too much info. The white centre panels look alright but do make finding the correct button on the run a bit of a distraction.

A couple of other things that disappoint a little on the inside of the Volt include a fair bit of dull and hard black plastic, poor legroom in the back, hard armrests and steering wheel, and rather small cabin storage areas.

The Volt however does have a pretty well-proportioned boot, though you don’t get a parcel shelf of any form.

On a more positive note you do get GM’s superb MyLink infotainment system which (in my view) remains the yardstick of the industry. Within this system the Volt boasts satellite navigation, reversing camera and an excellent Bose sound system.

From the driver’s seat visibility is very good, though the chunky ‘A’ pillars do tend to block some of the view. Rear visibility is excellent thanks to two piece glass on the rear hatch, though a rear wiper would be a nice addition.

Driver comfort is improved over the Holden Volts comparatively sized Holden cousin, the Cruze, thanks to the inclusion of a well-placed footrest for your left foot.

Be warned however, there are a couple of small things that may annoy you about the Volt – firstly the indicator stalk is on the left, the collision avoidance system is a touch too helpful and intrusive and the front spoiler has a large rubber air dam that sits vulnerably only centimetres from the road and scrapes on everything!

Safety wise the Volt has a five-star ANCAP rating.

Summing it up – The Holden Volt is an impressive and unique vehicle that delivers absolute cutting-edge technology in a user friendly and well thought out package.

Is it worth $59,990 though? Not really, even if you had solar panels producing free electricity to charge the batteries the range is still too small to support the economic case.

Sure, the fuel use is also super-impressive but unless you are doing many, many kilometres each year the high initial price is a big hurdle to get over.

If the Volt was priced at around $45,000 I believe Holden would have them running out the doors. Until then I would buy a top-spec Holden Cruze Sri-V, enjoy the extra seat in the back and pocket the $30,000+ price difference.

NUTS and BOLTS

Engine: Electric drive producing 63kW

Transmission: Automatic

Safety rating: Five stars

Warranty: 3yrs/100,000kms

Origin: United States

Price: From $59,990

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