WHEN I was offered the chance to test-drive the new Volt at Bundaberg's Ross Gray Motor City Holden, there was no way I was going to let it pass.
So I headed out in the second-generation electric car with Holden's Mike Element and NewsMail photographer Max Fleet to see what it felt like to drive the ground-breaking car.
I was surprised by its power and torque. Push the accelerator and it reacts like a sports car, pushing you firmly into the back of the leather seats and reaching 100kmh in nine seconds.
It looks like a European or Japanese sports car. The big difference is the silence of the engine. Switching on the ignition was a matter of pushing a button on the dash while holding the brake.
You can also turn on the car with the remote. General Motors engineers had to program in a noise so drivers knew it was actually on - it sounds like something you would expect to hear on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Whirrrr, and it's on.
The touch-screen control shows you how much power you have in the battery with a glowing icon, as well as a floating ball that indicates how energy-efficient your driving is.
The interior is leather throughout, including the steering wheel, and the car features a USB port to charge your smartphone.
The Volt is powered by a five-foot-long, 200kg lithium-ion battery and a petrol-powered generator. The battery sits under the floor, meaning the weight is down low, aiding handling.
The 1398cc electric engine puts out 111kW or 148.7 horsepower.
Holden is selling the "fully loaded" model in Australia for about $62,000 drive away.
Scott Rub, sales consultant at Ross Gray Motor City, said the Volt's battery could be charged at home for about $2.50 and would take you up to 85km. A standard home 240-volt power point will charge the battery.
"If you drive from Bargara to Bundaberg for work and back every day, you will use about $1 worth of electricity and may never need petrol until you do longer trips," Mr Rub said.
"Using the petrol generator to charge the battery uses about 5-7 litres per 100km on normal unleaded petrol."
The petrol generator can charge the battery as you drive for a total of 600km before you have to fill the 35-litre tank.
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