No press cars are available until Summer 2017 as GM fills up dealer lots with available inventory, but we were able to secure a 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV for a day, which gave us a chance to drive one for the first time. GM has managed to beat Tesla by being the first to push out to market a sub $40K all electric vehicle with a 200+ mile range. Take into consideration a possible $7,500 federal tax credit and a possible $2,500 or more (depending on income) from California and this becomes quite an affordable proposition. Up until now you had buy a Tesla at double the cost or more to get 200 miles of range.
GM refers to this car as a wagon instead of a hatchback or an SUV. It’s smaller than expected and offers a tad more rear seat legroom and cargo space than the, now defunct Spark EV. That said there is, at least, room for a large dog now instead of a poodle. First impressions of how it looks, well it is a little boring, when compared to the Tesla but its a better looker than the Spark EV, which is odd to say the least.
How Does It Go?
Smooth and quiet is the first sensation you get, push the go pedal and the Bolt surges forward with no fuss at all, lift off the pedal and if you have it in L mode, it transitions to braking (without the need to use the brakes). In fact, it will come to a complete stop if you drive around in L, put it in D and it acts like a typical transmissions and will creep forward. It is truly a one pedal car, I think I used the brakes only a couple of times in total. If you need to regen more KwH back to the battery there’s a paddle on the steering wheel that bumps it up a notch and it works like a brake lever on a bike. Power delivery is seamless, no jerkiness, which is to be expect given the 266 lb-ft @ 0 rpm. This is the beauty of electric power.
The suspension is much more grown up than the Spark EV, the Bolt simply soaks up imperfections in the road, but at the same time holds a good line and remains composed in the turns. Hard acceleration from a stop will chirp the tires but not enough to get embarrassed about. We didn’t have time to test acceleration but 0-60 should take around 6 .5 seconds.
Cabin space is pretty good, there is plenty of room for both front and rear seat occupants. It’s not luxurious as such, having more of a clean and modern feel. The Bolt doesn’t offer a sunroof which I prefer, especially here in sunny Southern California. The dash is dominated by technology particularly a 10 in touchscreen which gives you charge status, driving style, plus menu options that let you customize overnight charging times to maximize efficiency. The Bolt comes with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which can be combined with a seven-speaker Bose system to optimize sound quality. Our tester had the leather seats option and it’s a wise choice as the cloth ones are pretty basic. I would prefer to see a synthetic leather a la MB-Tex from Mercedes.
Fit and finish is only average GM deciding to spend money on tech over substance. It’s not bad but hard scratchy plastics abound, which looks good but feels cheap. The trunk has a parcel shelf that’s less of a shelf and more of a shower curtain, but these are small issues and we understand that GM needed to keep the weight down due to the large and heavy battery pack. The Bolt is definitely of a reasonable quality for its class.
It’s a great driving car, fast and fun and pretty cheap to run. You will need a 240v, 30 amp charger or it will take 19 hours to charge on ordinary 110v. What’s most impressive though is the range and for the first time there is an affordable EV that won’t give you range anxiety and you won’t need a gas car as a back up.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Numbers
|VEHICLE TYPE:||Front-motor, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback|
|MOTOR TYPE:||permanent-magnet synchronous AC, 60.0-kWh lithium-ion battery pack|
|TRANSMISSION:||1-speed direct drive|
|ZERO to 60 mph:||6.5 sec|
|TOP SPEED:||90 mph|
|CARGO VOLUME:||17 cu ft|
|CURB WEIGHT:||3600 lb|
|EPA city/highway driving:||128/110 MPGe|
|PROS||No need to buy gas, quick, 238 mile range,|
|CONS||Some cheaper plastics used|
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