2012 Coda Sedan: First Drive Page 2

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2012 Coda Sedan

2012 Coda Sedan

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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.

2012 Coda Sedan

2012 Coda Sedan

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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:

  • There's a noticeable motor whine or squeal from roughly 50 to 70 mph
  • The door armrest height is 2 inches lower than the central console armrest, meaning the driver can't comfortably prop up both elbows
  • The blue LCD odometer display is unreadable to any driver wearing blue-blocker sunglasses
  • The interior doorhandles are flimsy, loose, and feel like they'll break off
  • The driver's window has neither auto-down nor auto-up, a major annoyance for anyone who pays tolls or uses a drive-through
  • The turn-signal clicker volume is so low that it's impossible to hear with a window open or if the stereo is on
  • The rear-view mirror stem is so short that adjusting the mirror traps the driver's fingers against the overhead sunglasses compartment
  • The pale-grey plastic outer edges of the console in our car were discolored after a day of contact from dark-blue jeans--and we saw this on several Codas
  • The opening cover of the console is held shut with glued-down Velcro
  • The touchscreen display doesn't save its state when the car shuts off, meaning the driver has to reset it every time
  • The clock on the display isn't present on all screens

2012 Coda Sedan

2012 Coda Sedan

Enlarge Photo

Outside the car, a few more items revealed themselves:

  • The rubber door-trim gaskets were uneven and didn't align properly
  • Under the hood, several components appeared to have been hand-wrapped in black electrician's tape
  • At least one plastic connector was simply suspended by the individual wire strands emerging from either end

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.

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Comments (20)
  1. I think a very fair and thorough review. I hope Coda can sort out these seemingly minor bugs soon, and deliver a truly competitive vehicle.
    I'm impressed with the acceleration mentioned while driving (and the generous range), but what was the 0-60mph time? Anyone know?

  2. @Gavin: Coda quotes a 0-to-60-mph time of "9 to 9.5 seconds," though we didn't verify it during the test.

  3. Oh yeah! Whatever hapenned to Coda... and Mitsubishi? Soon Nissan maybe?

  4. Perhaps just one thing left out for people who might care about green issues.

    This is a very inefficient car.

    At 73 MPGe it takes 44% more KWHs to travel the same distance as the Ford Focus EV at 105 MPGe.

    Just think of what the range would be if the CODA had reasonable efficiency.

    Coda is by far and away the least efficient EV on the market, save one: the electron guzzling Fisker Karma at 54 MPGe.

  5. Good point. It's actually even worse than 44%, the Coda probably compares more to the Fit EV in terms of interior space which gets 118MPGe. That means travelling 100 miles takes 58% more KWHs in a Coda(46) than it would in the Fit(29).

    I wonder how these huge differences come about. What part(s) of the Coda waste so much energy?

  6. Didn't know that. I must have been asleep when the fit numbers came out at 118 MPGe and 82 miles. Well done Honda. Too bad it is only a compliance car.

  7. if every green person did ther thing we still can't make the diffrence up.

  8. All these Ecars are real nice, but no one posts prices, and are they priced for the 1% (one).

  9. @Raymond: The price is given on the third page of this 3-page review. It's $38,145 including delivery.

  10. Aside from reliable range, the Coda sedan sounds like a piece of crap. Drum brakes in the rear, it hasn't been safety tested, and a long to do list of items that need addressing. They should feel ashamed asking $39,900. for this thing.

  11. Frankly you should be ashamed for judging a well meaning start up like that. The tragedy of Coda is that it's too little too late. I think this initiative started at least 6 years ago when nobody else (except Tesla) seriously contemplated doing a serious EV. It was called the Miles 500 and it was supposed to hit the market in 2008. Many years of delay later things have changed drastically with the big guys beating it to the market with some much more professional offerings. Coda may not be competitive any more but they certainly deserve some respect for hanging in there and trying to do the best job they could.

  12. Yes I am well aware of Coda's original plans, but honestly the car doesn't have the build quality of a 15 to 20 thousand dollar car. Sure they we're we'll meaning, but you can't sell a car for nearly 40k that has a wish list of items that need fixing. I'm sure they did the best they could but in the extremely competitive car market you can't produce a car like this. I'm only judging them from a consumer's stand point, a high price and low quality just doesn't add up.

  13. Totally agree,from a consumer standpoint this car doesn't have a lot going for it in the current market. If they could offer it cheaper they no doubt would but I'm sure they just can't afford to. I think it's tragic, certainly not shameful.

  14. I guess it is tragic, they've backed themselves into a corner and it really doesn't look like theres anyway out.

  15. @CDspeed: Please note I have corrected the price, which is $38,145 including delivery, not $39,900.

  16. Either way we're talking about a 40 thousand dollar car.

  17. I will reserve my judgement until the crash test results come out...

  18. i hear it at least a half dozen times a day that LEAF owners would pay very good money to get a real 100 mile range and we have that and its the same price. too bad no QC though. no QC, no sale for me. when you get right down to it, its a question of how many trips have a distance between 85 (what i can get out of the LEAF) and 100ish (what the Coda can do although i am pretty sure i could get 110-115 easy)?

    not many which makes QC VITAL to my needs!!

  19. Me interested in this car purely for the market of the USa is intended or is it available in Europe/Germany? Unfortunately, the German automaker of is still of the view are that is better PS strong sell cars with Worde gas mileage can be and remain as alternative only the French (Renault) or just tesla, only for the latter I simply lack the money. We currently drive a Dacia Sandero 1.2 16V with 75PS, consumption 6 l / 100 km which German standards is very good for a literpreis of 1.70€ Dacia is part of renault and is being built in Romania. Nevertheless, the interest in an elektrofahrzeug is still there.

  20. This car is unproven and is too costly for the majority of Americans. I'd rather buy a Volt for a few thousand dollars more. Forgggetttaboutit.

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