The optional dark-grey leather seats have contrasting white stitching, and the dash design is simple and straightforward, with four large eyeball vents, a hooded instrument cluster, and a simple center stack containing a small 7-inch touchscreen display.
The seats are comfortable, although because the battery pack is in the floor, all passengers sit in a more knees-up position than the Coda's upright lines would indicate. That's a trait shared with the Tesla Model S, by the way, which also has its battery in the floorpan.
Punchy in traffic
The front wheels of the 2012 Coda Sedan are powered by a 100-kilowatt (134-horsepower) electric motor, which delivers good acceleration away from stops and is tuned for speedy acceleration between 30 and 70 mph--8.4 seconds, Coda says.
Acceleration starts to fall off sharply above 65 or 70 mph, and top speed is limited to 85 mph.
The handling, while hardly light or crisp, is better than we expected, with good roadholding--due partly to the Coda's low center of gravity--and nicely direct electric rack-and-pinion steering. It's not a sport sedan, but its torque and handling kept us comfortably in the thick of traffic on LA's curving canyon roads.
The finer points of the driving experience, however, are one of the areas where the Coda Sedan betrays its much modified and adapted roots as a completely different vehicle.
Details need sorting
On liftoff, the car glides for a couple of seconds and then engages fairly strong regenerative braking--notably slowing the car. We learned to use this to our advantage, but it's a unique behavior not found in any other electrically powered car we've driven.
There's some slight lurching on abrupt power transitions, and Coda hasn't yet gotten idle creep quite right, with discernible "cogging"--the fast on-off application of electric power--on brake liftoff without any acceleration.
The braking itself was the Coda's most perplexing element, with unpredictable pedal feel--sometimes firm, occasionally spongy--and seemingly non-linear rates of slowing down.
Modulating between regeneration and friction braking is tough for any automaker, and Coda needs to continue refining its control software to match the feel of Toyota, Nissan, and Ford hybrid or electric regenerative brakes, where transitions are utterly impossible to detect.
We did observe that the Coda's front discs and rear drums stopped the car handily under panic braking, though we don't have stopping distances to compare against other compact sedans.
Many, many details...
It's behind the wheel, using the Coda Sedan in everyday traffic and on freeways, that many of the car's little detail shortcomings and oddities are revealed:
Outside the car, a few more items revealed themselves:
On the other hand, the body-panel seams were consistent--if wider than best practice--and the cars mostly appeared to be screwed together fairly well.