First Drive: Chevy Bolt EV 200-Mile Electric Car Development Vehicle Page 2

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Engineering development version of Chevrolet Bolt EV, Las Vegas, Jan 2016

Engineering development version of Chevrolet Bolt EV, Las Vegas, Jan 2016

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Unlike run-flat tires, these seal around any nails or other small punctures, which the owner will only learn about once the tire is replaced.

Inside, the cabin is light and airy, with remarkably thin front seats that provide an extra inch of rear legroom. Four adults can sit comfortably in the car, though the "five-passenger" description is pushing it.

Passenger volume is 94.4 cubic feet, against 92.4 cubic feet for a Nissan Leaf and 94 cubic feet for the much larger Tesla Model S. That volume is "two segments larger" than the car's exterior size would suggest, said Pam Fletcher, GM's executive chief engineer for electrified vehicles.

But while it appears a bit smaller than the Leaf on the road--perhaps due to those short overhangs--the Bolt EV is wide, and the interior space is suitable for long-distance travel by four.

ALSO SEE: GM Shows Chevy Bolt EV Electric-Car Prototypes Testing: Video

The lack of an engine means that the Bolt EV's designers could move the windshield base down and forward, letting them rake the large glass at almost the same angle as the short hood.

Frontal vision from the driver's seat is exceptionally good, which will make the Bolt easy to park. And both the flat floor and a slim dash and console make the front footwells especially wide.

The seats are comfortable, and all occupants sit upright, and higher than they do in the more rakish Volt.

The dashboard has both a fully digital 8-inch instrument cluster behind the steering wheel and a central 10.2-inch touchscreen display built into the top of the console.

Engineering development version of Chevrolet Bolt EV, Las Vegas, Jan 2016

Engineering development version of Chevrolet Bolt EV, Las Vegas, Jan 2016

Enlarge Photo

Both have a graphic design quite different from that used in the 2016 Volt and Malibu. The user-configurable displays in the Bolt EV use thin fonts on a bright white background, looking as much like a mobile website for swiping as old-school automotive instruments.

The Bolt EV also has GM's new digital rear-view mirror as standard, so far seen only on the Cadillac CT6 large luxury sedan.

Its rear-facing camera gives a wide 80-degree image in the crisp digital display that replaces the mirror glass, against 22 degrees for a conventional mirror. We did notice some glare off the highly polished surface, however.

We can't comment on the materials inside the production Bolt EV, because our test vehicles had many components made of smooth, untextured black plastic and large parts of the interior covered in black nylon cloth.

MORE: GM Officially Confirms It Will Build Chevy Bolt Electric Car With 200-Mile Range

The "roads" of our enclosed test course included a long straight, several esses, a pair of right-angle turns, and a U-bend at the end.

The development Bolt accelerated confidently even with four adults in the car; GM quotes 0-to-60-mph acceleration of less than 7 seconds, and was able to chirp the inside front tire under full power out of a turn.

It cornered relatively flat on its 17-inch alloy wheels, and the steering had a nice positive self-centering action.

No motor or electronics whine was audible at any point, and the brake feel was consistent enough that we didn't feel any transitions between regenerative and friction braking in our two laps.


 
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