2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Banning internal combustion engines

Test Drive: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Chevrolet Bolt: Converting Anxiety into Assurance

The two words most often cited as deal-breakers by potential purchasers of electric-cars are “price” and “range.” For the most part, EVs (electric vehicles) are expensive and unable to match a gas-powered vehicle for range.

Automobile manufacturers have been struggling to excise those two words from a buyer’s vocabulary with little success up to now. Tesla has dealt with range-anxiety but not yet price despite the anticipated arrival of the less expensive Tesla 3 model.

Chevrolet’s new Bolt may well be the game-changer that relieves the fear of inadequate range while softening, but not eliminating, the blow delivered by price. The Bolt is an electric compact 5-door hatchback boasting a chart-topping range, rated officially at 383 km.

The Bolt is available in two trim levels: LT and Premier. The LT carries an MSRP of $42,795 before provincially-applicable incentives while the Premier ups the ante to $49,495. Those are steep numbers for such a small car, but the technology underwriting its impressive range doesn’t come cheap.

Fortunately, provincial incentives in the three provinces in which GM will sell the Bolt ease the pain of purchase. In B.C., the Bolt LT drops to $37,795 and the Premier to $42,795 with incentives. In Ontario, the numbers are $30,405 and $35,405 respectively, while in Quebec they shake-out at $35,837 and $40,837.

The EV break-even point over that of an equivalent gas-powered compact varies greatly with distances driven, however, talk to commuters and it’s not uncommon to hear of monthly gas bills exceeding $500. At that rate, the EV premium gets eaten up fairly quickly, rewarding its owner with inexpensive, reliable, and clean transportation for the long-term.

The eggheads at General Motors estimate the cost of operating the Bolt, in comparison to a similar gas vehicle, such as the Sonic, at just 16% – 25% of the gas equivalent. Remember, the savings apply not only to gas, but to services such as oil changes and tune-ups; they simply don’t exist with the Bolt.

Once the numbers have been crunched and a decision is made to go electric, what can the new Bolt owner expect in terms of driveability?

For starters, they can expect nothing – that is – as it applies to engine noise. Mechanically, the Bolt is silent, the wonder of which can’t be overstated. They can also expect startling acceleration. The Bolt’s electric drivetrain produces 200 horsepower, which is more than most compact cars, but that’s only a fraction of the performance picture.

The true genius in EV propulsion is the immediate presence of torque, which in this case is rated at a highly-impressive 266 ft-lb. Dip your toe into the Bolt’s throttle and the ultra-smooth thrust will shoot the car ahead like an amusement ride, provided diligence is applied in an effort to prevent front-wheel spin.

Placing the Bolt’s electronic shifter into the L position invokes single-pedal driving in which the throttle serves to both move and stop the car. The latter creating a high degree of regenerative-braking, which puts juice back into the car’s sophisticated Lithium Ion battery pack.

Our day with the Bolt had us cruising B.C.’s Sea to Sky Highway after several minutes fighting typical city-based congestion. It’s on the highway where the Bolt impressed me most. It effortlessly propels itself at any speed while performing like a sports car in the passing lane and on steep ascents. There is no want for power.

Overtaking a semi-truck on a climb up one of the passes was pure joy. Normally, a 4-banger compact would struggle and rev its little engine to the max in a frantic attempt to make a safe pass. With the Bolt, the Semi was in the rearview in no time as Chevy’s EV glided by while pulling some notable Gs.

Along with its eerily silent propulsion, the Bolt delivers a smooth, composed ride highlighted by athletic handling dynamics and excellent steering response. The vehicle tracks well, practically steering itself down the highway. It’s ease of operation makes for a pleasant, relaxing experience behind the wheel in a vehicle that feels more substantive and upscale than most compact hatchbacks at any price.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt
Price as tested (before incentives): $42,795.00 – $47,795.00
Configuration: front motor, front-wheel drive
Electric motor: 200 horsepower, 266 lb-ft of torque
Estimated range: 383 km
Limited warranty: 3-years, 60,000 km
Battery warranty: 8-years, 160,000 km
Competitors: BMW i3, Ford Focus EV, e-Golf, Kia Soul EV, Nissan Leaf

Related links:
Chevrolet Canada
The Globe and Mail

Translate »