By Roger Boylan
That isn’t how GM, who organized the event, billed it. It’s just me being cute. Not quite as cute, mind you, as the herd of little Chevy Volts I found tethered to their battery-charging stations at 8 a.m. last Friday, when I arrived to participate in the Texas leg of the nationwide “Volt Unplugged” media event. About a dozen automotive writers convened at The Crossings, a plush resort hotel west of Austin, with stunning views of Lake Travis and adjoining hills and bluffs in autumnal shades that reminded me—and a German-born colleague—of the Rhine and Mosel valleys. “Wunderbar,” we exclaimed, jointly. “Jawohl.” Tears welled; thoughts of beer came, and sparkling Riesling. Then we pulled ourselves together and the drive got underway.
Coincidentally, I’d just reviewed a Plug-In Prius, which impressed me so much that I was unprepared to be equally or more impressed by the much-hyped, perhaps overly hyped, Volt, Motor Trend’s 2011 Car of the Year. And indeed, there are undeniable superficial similarities between the two futuremobiles: a starter button instead of a key; a Star Trek instrument panel; winking displays of electronic arcana on the display screens; otherworldly clicks and faint moans at ignition. But as soon as I moved onto the two-lane blacktop, the Volt came into its own. Even on uphill spurts and cruising at 70+, my power source was all electric, and I made sure that some of those spurts were fast. GM claims 0-60 in 9 seconds, but I estimate that my heavy boot application shaved nearly a half second off that figure.