It's been four years since the world's largest automaker (arguably) began work on reviving the electric car and almost two years after the concept was first revealed on the stage of the Detroit Auto Show, and seeing the Volt's shiny exterior up close we can say, yes, it's nothing like the look of the sleek, low-to-the-ground concept with vented windows we've seen toted out for every show over the past two years. But, that's not to say it's bad. In fact, it's quite a sharp looking extended-range electric vehicle. We sat down with a ruler and compass and here's the five features we want to make sure you take note of.
The designers at GM really did the best they could to maintain the visual language of the original Volt concept — especially given the concept was never actually meant to be aerodynamic (Wired's shock at this fact yesterday was met with laughter in the press room) — delivering a more sleek, aerodynamic product at the end. Hundreds of hours in the wind tunnel have provided all kinds of nifty details intended to trick the wind and deliver the mileage. Our favorite is the adaptation of the Kamm-back, a trick of body work which simulates a teardrop tail without the extended tear drop shape. The ridge running along the corners of the rear bumper act to create a clean break with the air as it passes over the Volt, reducing turbulence and thus, drag.
As the Volt is a plug-in hybrid, there needs to be a convenient place to locate said plug. On the Volt, the port for making it the world's biggest Glade scent machine rests behind a door at the base of the A-pillar. The neat design element is how the side mirror is tied to the mirror stalk with a strip of stainless steel wrapping around from the window trim. The mirror also integrates a barely visible turn signal, so there's a lot going on in a small space. But, despite the busy feature levels, good design ties it all together.
Given the rake of the rear hatch on the Volt, something had to be done to make sure drivers could see what was going on back there. GM decided to follow the trail the Honda Insight blazed and make the bottom of the rear hatch glass so the rear spoiler is the only interruption to the driver's visibility. In practice, we're assuming this can be a bit annoying, but we're assuming you get used to it. But whether or not the driver likes the way it gets in the way, the design aesthetic of badges stuck onto the smooth glass makes a definite impression.
OK, so technically, it's probably not a feature, but the rear three quarter view on the Volt is positively excellent. Sporty and pitched forward, it looks ready to run. We're told one of the very few differences between this revealed Volt and the production intent design is the rear spoiler is raised by about 30 mm, so expect it to be even more wedge-shaped in the future.
Everybody knows LEDs use less electricity and last longer in the field than their older counterparts, so what better application than on an "electric" car? Tail lights, turn signals, courtesy lights, backups... all of them LED. It's an all-LED light fest. As Wert would say, an LEDgasm (sorry, he made me do that). We especially like how the tail lights appear to be floating on the glass of the rear hatch.