Holden Volt: A first drive

Our first impressions of the Holden Volt, the long range electric car

Holden showed off its first long range electric car at a technology workshop in Sydney this week and GoodGearGuide was there to take it for a spin. Here's our first impressions of the Holden Volt.

Let's get one thing out of the way first. I'm not going to pretend to be a car reviewer here. But when Holden invited me to a "technology briefing" on the Volt, I instantly became curious. This isn't an ordinary car, after all. It's a car that would make most geeks smile, such is the amount of tech that's packed into it.

From the outside, the Holden Volt looks like an ordinary, mid-sized sedan, so you'd be hard pressed to tell that this is in fact an electric car that plugs into your powerpoint at home. I'm not a huge fan of its chunky rear end, but that seems to be the newest trend in many cars these days.

Aside from the rear end, the rest of the Volt looks pretty smart and elegant. The chrome grill on the front is a little bit of an overkill, but the styling isn't too loud. The Volt sits very low to the ground at the front. A Holden spokesperson told me this is for aerodynamic reasons and stressed that the plastic piece that sits underneath the front bumper is designed to flex (not snap) when it scrapes on your driveway or over a speedbump. We didn't scrape it on our short 20 minute test drive, so we couldn't put his theory to the test.

The chrome grill on the front of the Volt may be overkill, but the styling isn't too loud.
The chrome grill on the front of the Volt may be overkill, but the styling isn't too loud.

As soon as you unlock the Volt and open the door, it's clear this car is packed full of tech. There's a small button on the door handle, so if the key is in your pocket you can just press this to open the door. You push a glowing blue power button to start the car. The driver instrument panel, where the speedometer usually resides, is a 7in LCD screen. There's another 7in LCD in the centre console, this one a touchscreen. Most of the buttons on the built-in entertainment system are touch-sensitive and the soft blue backlight is a nice touch. The centre console is finished in a glossy white colour, which does make it stand out.

There are buttons everywhere from the centre console, to the steering wheel and the steering column stalks. Most of the features seem pretty easy to access and will become second nature over time, but it's definitely a little overwhelming at first.

The Volt is extremely quiet when driven. In fact, I had to double check it had started when I first pressed the power button. There is virtually no engine noise at all, so much so that Holden has even included a "pedestrian warning" button on the end of the left steering wheel stalk. It's more elegant and quieter than a horn and would be best used to warn pedestrians when you're backing out of your driveway, for example. There's still a regular horn if you need it.

As soon as you unlock the Volt and open the door, it's clear this car is packed full of tech.
As soon as you unlock the Volt and open the door, it's clear this car is packed full of tech.

The Volt is smooth and comfortable to drive. The suspension is on the soft side and ride comfort is therefore excellent. The lack of engine noise amplifies road noise a little but for most part the cabin is relatively quiet. I found the brakes a little spongy and soft, which was disappointing.

Speaking of the brakes, moving the Volt's automatic gear shift into hold mode (denoted by an 'L') kicks a regenerative braking system into life. Whenever you take your foot off the accelerator in this mode, the car begins to slow down by itself. The idea behind this mode is to regenerate the power you've used when accelerating in order to prolong the amount of kilometres you can squeeze out from the battery. It seems to work well enough but getting used to the car feeling as if it's braking on its own is a rather weird experience.

The drive mode button switches between normal, sport and hold driving modes.
The drive mode button switches between normal, sport and hold driving modes.

The Volt's built-in safety technology is also worth a mention and we experienced both on our short test drive. A lane departure warning system notifies you by beeping loudly and flashing an icon on the main driver screen when you move outside a lane without indicating. There's also a forward collision alert that uses a windscreen mounted camera to warn at three preset distance settings (far, medium, short). We had it set to far and it notified us when we pulled up at the lights behind another vehicle.

We'll hopefully have a more detailed review of the Holden Volt soon.

Would you pay $59,990 for the Holden Volt? Why or why not? Vote in our poll here and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Related content

Holden's Volt is the car for the millennial generation
In pictures: Holden's first electric car, the Holden Volt

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

Good Gear Guide
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?