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News & Reviews
Last 7 Days
By James Ward
Quick Specs
Make
HOLDEN
Model/Variant
VOLT
Engine
1.4L petrol, 111kW electric
Price
$59,990 (before on road costs)
Warranty
three-year/100,000 kilometre
See the full specs Read the full review

So, where did you go on your date?

I wanted to add some spark to the relationship with the Holden Volt so we zapped into town to see the latest "Transformers" movie.

Ideal first date?

The Volt likes the energy of the urban grid, so crank up the AC/DC and head somewhere that is on the pulse of current trends.

Hot or not?

There is certainly a buzz about the Volt, and first impressions are positive. Not classically beautiful, it has a modern and dynamic look that is more akin to a science-fiction movie than a metro cruiser.

While it looks quite big, the Holden Volt is actually smaller in all dimensions than a Cruze, although it is a good 300kg heavier thanks to the battery packs.

It's what's inside that counts, what do you think of the interior?

If Apple made a car, this is what I envisage it would look like.

The clean white dashboard and console, adorned with touch-buttons looks more like an iPod than a car. There is plenty of room, both front and back - although the Volt is strictly a four-seater thanks to a central rear console (with storage and cup holders). The sloping roofline makes rear headroom a concern for taller passengers (and journalists) too.

There are some cheaper plastics and questionable fitment in some areas, but overall the Volt transmits a sense of pleasantness - heightened by the almost silent ride when in full EV mode.

Standout features?

The Volt is a proper EV, with the petrol motor operating for range extension and on-the-fly power requirements. The charging display on the touch screen and instrument display gives a fun and informative insight to how power is being consumed and generated.

Plus I love the pedestrian 'parp parp' horn, should your silent running be risky for headphone clad pedestrians stepping out in the road, oblivious to the future heading toward them - you can deliver a nice audible shock.

Annoying habits?

The cargo blind was missing in our test car, and speaking to other Volt drivers - prone to failure, which leaves the car interior totally visible to passers-by. Not ideal.

The EV running range also caused some tension between us, as an indicated 90km range from a full charge would drop quickly to 80, then 70 then almost 50km by the time you had left the parking lot. Sure the petrol engine is there to pick up any shortcomings, but starting a relationship with a lie is never a recipe for success.

Ready for a family?

There are top-tether points for child seats in each of the rear buckets, but the boot is too small to fit a pram - so it's not perfect as the sole family transport... but as a second car the Volt is comfortable, spacious and perfectly conductive to supporting up to two children.

High maintenance?

The Volt is a cheap date. It rarely drinks, and when it does, it never drinks much. Even after a big night, the Volt will charge happily in its sleep - ready and refreshed for another day (costing about $4 at urban off-peak rates).

Holden offer a capped service price of $185 for the first four services up to 60,000km with the Volt.

Any deal-breakers?

For a start the Volt is $60,000. That's an awful lot of carbon to offset for a car that might be clever, but certainly isn't luxurious.

And there is the elephant in the room... charging infrastructure.

The utopian future that was envisaged when cars like the Volt were planned just isn't here. There is no comprehensive network of public charge points (although we did use one at the local 7-eleven - not exactly a glamorous location to head on a date), plus off-street parking in inter-urban Melbourne is a rare treat, so charging the Volt with an extension cord over the front fence and footpath isn't a long-term solution.

So, is it serious or just a one night stand?

Dating the Volt is fun, there is always a tingle of excitement being confused for an extra from "Total Recall", but for the relationship to be truly magnetic, you and the Volt need to have your polarity correctly aligned. Driving habits, charging infrastructure and your overall expectation of the vehicle need to be correct for this to work.

It's a two-way relationship. There are plenty of positives and negatives on both sides - but if you connect, then I see a warm glow ahead.

Keeping your options open?

There is an ever expanding range of EV vehicles available, so choose one that best plugs-in to your lifestyle. Money no object - head for the BMW i8, but for all round practicality in the real world, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is hard to beat.

If it's not for you, who would you recommend it to?

Eco warriors who want to take the lead and make a switch.

People who enjoy electrifying their sentences with shocking puns.






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