The Volt performs surprisingly close to a normal car. Chevrolet has built a remarkable car with a groundbreaking powertrain, and it almost seems they've gone to great lengths to disguise.
They've even tuned the accelerator to behave just like a standard car with an automatic-transmission. If you want to enjoy single-pedal driving, with more braking from the motor system (more like the Tesla Roadster), you have to put the car into a special "Low" mode.
In a way, that's a shame. We're all for predictability and not scaring consumers who may be daunted by the idea of new technology. But we wonder a bit whether Chevy may have erred on the side of conservatism.
But you don't need to be an entirely conservative driver to enjoy the Volt. It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in roughly nine seconds, with its punchiest performance from 0 to 40. Top speed is limited to 100 miles per hour.
So what's the 2011 Volt like in mixed usage—which is to say, driving on electricity from both the 16-kilowatt-hour battery pack and that provided to the 111-kilowatt motor from the 80-horsepower 1.4-liter gasoline engine powering a 55-kW generator? After 40-or-so miles, when the engine switches on—imperceptibly to the driver but, oddly, just barely noticeable to the front passenger—performance doesn't change. While the Volt might have two very distinct modes of operation, its responsiveness or driving feel isn't any different once it starts burning gasoline.
Acceleration from a stop is brisk—we were somehow reassured to see we were still able to spin an inside front wheel when accelerating hard out of a turn—and the steering, handling, and braking aren't as disconnected as you might expect.