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I drove an electric car for the first time under intense conditions — and it performed surprisingly well

I drove an electric car for the first time under intense conditions — and it performed surprisingly well

I drove an electric car for the first time under intense conditions — and it performed surprisingly well

chevy bolt autocrossThe Chevy Bolt performed well in unusual circumstances.Mark Matousek / Business Insider

  • I drove an electric vehicle, a Chevy Bolt, for the first time on an autocross course.
  • The Bolt’s acceleration wasn’t remarkable, but it handled well. I felt like it was always under control, even when I pushed it into a series of hard turns.
  • I came away with a positive impression of the Bolt. Almost none of the maneuvers required by the course would apply to everyday driving, but the course demonstrated how the Bolt could hold up in unusual circumstances.

A Chevy Bolt is not the first car you might think to use on an autocross track.

Autocross is a timed competition in which cones are arranged, often in a flat and spacious environment like a parking lot, to create a course that tests a driver’s ability to make a number of tight turns with precision. A modestly-priced car might not seem like the most logical choice for this sort of event, but on a 2017 list of the cars best suited for autocross, the automotive publication Road & Track included affordable vehicles like the Ford Fiesta and Honda Civic alongside a Porsche Cayman and Corvette.

Like the Fiesta, the Bolt is light and compact, which helps with agility and tight turns. And its 266 pound-feet of torque tops competitors like the Nissan Leaf (236 pound-feet) and the BMW i3 (184 pound-feet). While it won’t provide blistering acceleration (it takes 6.2 seconds to go from 0-60 mph) or race car-level handling, the Bolt can navigate tight turns and frequent changes in speed without spinning out of control. 

The Bolt was also the first fully-electric vehicle I’ve driven. First released in late 2016, the Bolt is General Motors’ mass-market electric car, beating Tesla’s mass-market vehicle, the Model 3, to market by a year. With 238 miles of range, the Bolt set out to ease range anxiety without breaking the bank. 

While my first experience with the Bolt — and electric cars in general — came under unusual circumstances, it demonstrated how electric vehicle technology has progressed to a point where early stereotypes about electric vehicles being flimsy and impractical no longer apply.

Here’s how the Bolt held up over three hours of runs on an autocross track.

Published at Sun, 03 Jun 2018 13:14:00 +0000

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