Saturday, April 19, 2014

Review after first long (9km) drive

I finally took the Volt for a "longish" drive (to one of our Montreal offices). It was about 9km, early in the morning and it involved driving on the highway while in traffic. I experimented with Sport mode, "L" mode and played with the navigation system.

Sport mode is addictive! The throttle response is virtually instantaneous compared to "Normal" mode! You can easily feel the difference.

Driving in "L" instead of "D" allows for more aggressive regen (feels exactly like engine braking when downshifting a manual tranny). It also allows for "1-pedal" driving when stuck in traffic and I am sold on the concept! I literally drove 3/4 of the trip without touching the brakes in stop-and-go traffic! This will extend the life of the brakes by a significant amount! When I got off the highway I switched back to "D" to coast longer. Needless to say, driving in traffic has become a lot more bearable!

As for the navigation, I still find the interface a little busy (still used to a tiny old Garman). Initially the view was zoomed out so far I saw the whole island of Montreal. It did not automatically zoom in when I started driving either. While driving it was not obvious how to zoom in, and I accidentally figured it out when I turned the "Tune" dial instead of the "Volume" dial. Tuning allowed me to choose the visible distance so I zoomed in to 100 meters. Much better. I really like when the right-half of the screen shows what the next turn looks like really zoomed in, while still leaving the route on the left. Nice touch. In general the navigation works well and I just need to get used to how much more information it can provide.

The Volt came with a 3 month XM satellite radio subscription. Given that my commute is short, it is not worth $16 per month to me (although I hear you can get massive discounts when you tell them you do not want to subscribe). However, the channels are great and there was always a song I liked on one channel or another. I find the quality has improved from when I remember listening to XM on rental cars. It usually sounded like low bitrate mp3 files. Thankfully not anymore. If you have a big enough data plan on your cellphone you can just use internet radio streaming though.

Of course I have to mention how quiet the cabin is. It is so serene and almost Zen-like to drive the Volt! Everyone who has been in the Volt finds the quietness strange, but in a great way! I drove 3 colleagues around the parking lot and they were all pleasantly surprised at the ride quality, the interior look-and-feel and the complete lack of NVH. When people see the interior, they all react the same way: the 4 bucket seats look fantastic!

I think Volt owners are the best marketing tool for this car. Chevy has had a winner since 2011 yet it is not on anyone's radar. I am glad I took the plunge and I hope to get at least 3 people (my aunt, my friend and a colleague) to buy a Volt by the end of this year!

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