The absence of engine noise stands out, emphasizing the road roar from the low-resistance Goodyear Fuel Max tires and bump-thump from the suspension. Chevrolet is working on quieter bushings.
With conventional strut and torsion beam suspension from the Chevy Cruze/Vauxhall Astra, the Volt doesn't break new dynamic ground, particularly since the chassis tuning mimics the comfort settings of the Cruze. The electric power steering is linear and faithful to the helm, but there's body roll in corners and the general feeling of a car focused on cruising rather than pace.
Braking effort can be enhanced electrically, too, using a regenerative setting on the shifter, which is engaged by pulling the lever back another notch to the position normally occupied by the Sport setting on an automatic gearbox. Chevrolet calls this low range. It cranks up the braking effect from the electric motor when you lift off and feeds more energy into the battery. The extra braking effect is noticeable and Chevrolet suggests using it in town to take advantage of stop-start driving. Out on the open road, the extra drag effect might be too intrusive when all you need is to coast gently.
Regenerative braking is important in the Volt. It can increase efficiency by 25 percent and, to make it work, the brakes are fly by wire, which allows GM to coordinate the mechanical and electrical braking efforts.
There's one major aspect of the Volt that we can't yet comment on: the real-world range and how the range-extender gas engine interacts with the electric motor. Gauging economy was impossible, too, although the tripmeter read an impressive 963mpg at the end of our test.
What we now know about the Volt, though, is that it looks great inside and out, is refined and comfortable (although with a smallish cabin), appears to offer great economy and drives like a proper car – not something that can be said about some electric vehicles we've sampled.
We may not know exactly how the battery behaves in real-world conditions and driving cycles, but the Volt appears to deliver on its promises. That $700 million looks to have been spent pretty well.