General Motors has begun doling out test drives of its Chevrolet Volt prototypes to the salivating media. AutoblogGreen is scheduled for some time behind the wheel in short order, but some bigger names have already written up their first impressions of the car. CNN's short version: Promising, but not perfect.
Unlike the Mali-Volts of the recent past, CNN was able to test out the Volt technology as it fits inside the bodywork of a Chevy Cruze. The vehicle looks nearly identical to the Cruze that will go on sale in the U.S. soon, but the powertrain is reportedly 80 percent Voltec. Reporters haven't yet gotten the true Volt driving experience, though, since, as CNN's Peter Valdes-Dapena reports, the Cruze vehicles operate in EV-only mode because "GM engineers are still tweaking the car's performance under gasoline power." Considering that EV-only mode is how most Volt drivers will experience the car most days, this is a fair initial test, with Valdes-Dapena calling the acceleration "particularly muscular." One big question that needs to be answered is how GM will deal with the weight of the Voltec system. Valdes-Dapena writes:
The first time I drove the front wheel drive test vehicle into a turn, the weight came as a surprise. It felt almost like the small Cruze had turned into something more like a Cadillac the moment I turned the steering wheel.
That's going to take some getting used to, or perhaps some additional tuning.
Valdes-Dapena wasn't the only reporter to test out the Cruze Volt mule. Detroit radio staple Jeff Gilbert was there for WWJ and he put up a video on Facebook. GM made their own video of the media drives, and you can see that and the CNN show after the jump.
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[Source: CNN, WWJ, General Motors]