Monday, December 23, 2013
The purchasing experience
I have to admit, not needing to negotiate (because of the GM Supplier discount) took all the stress out of the purchase. The price was what it was. There are a few GM/Chevy dealers in Montreal so I picked Hamel (Chevy, Buick and GMC). They are an authorized Volt dealer and have been there for longer than I can remember. I was disappointed that there wasn't a Volt in the showroom but it is kind of expected. They did have a used one out back (a 2012 Joule colored Volt). I asked for a representative that knew the Volt and within 30 seconds I met one of the most knowledgeable sales representatives I have ever met. Hamel is family owned and the representative was part of the family. He knew all about the GM Supplier discount program, all about the instant government rebate and all about the Volt. Considering how few Volts there are on the road, it was extremely impressive to see a representative know so much about such a niche car. I did not waste any time and took out my printouts (GM supplier discount program, Quebec Drive Electric program and the Volt I wanted). I imagine I gave Hamel a good customer experience since I was fully prepared. After I showed the rep that I was serious he brought the 2012 Volt up front and let me take it for a test drive! Given that it is a niche car, I do not think everyone gets a free Volt ride unless they are serious. Before driving off, the sales rep went through an incredible amount of details about the car itself, the driving modes, the touchscreen etc. Amazing guy! The most striking part of the test drive was the silence in the cabin. Imagine you are sitting in an office and someone is in your office and the door is closed. That's how conversing in the Volt feels like. I bet this reduces fatigue in long trips! The acceleration was super smooth, especially since there are no gear changes. Transmission today are incredibly fast but nothing is smoother than one long gear! It wasn't difficult keeping the "efficiency ball with leaves" in the center. I tested the "L" mode (instead of "D" on the shifter) and noticed the regenerative braking a little more however it was really not that aggressive. It's equivalent to downshifting on a manual transmission but much more subtle. I am not sure if we can leave it in "L" all of the time instead of "D" but I would have no problems with the extra regenerative effect slowing the car down a little faster than simply coasting in "D". I did find the driver information center a little cluttered (too much information) but I just read in the user manual now that there is a "simpler" display. Awesome. Although the Volt is "just" a 4-seater, I liked the look of the 2 bucket seats in the rear. This 2012 model did not have the armrest and the rear passengers felt it was kind of cheap without one because there's a hole between the seats that reveals the trunk space. The door panels in the rear were all plastic as well so that was a little disappointing. The front seats and panels were great though. The touch-sensitive center console worked well, although sometimes the "buttons" did not always register a press if I was too fast. Anyway, I chose the premium trim package to get the rear armrest. Also, you can see in the "trunk" behind the rear seats like you are in an SUV. This was kind of cool but like the Mazda3, this results in more cabin to heat up so it might take a little longer to warm up during the cold Montreal winters (unless you "precondition" the car which I will discuss in another post). Anyway, I brought the car back and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It drove like a normal car but certainly didn't feel like a normal car. I signed the papers to reserve a car but the financing/bank stuff will only happen when I receive the car. As it is now, if the interest rates drop before receiving the car I will get the lower rate, otherwise if they rise I will keep the one available now. It's not the best rate so here's hoping GM financing helps me out a little more by reducing the rate in a new promotion very soon (boxing day special???)!