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Strong performance
Strong performance
Nine months ago, I drove a "test mule" with the Volt's working parts underneath a Chevrolet Cruze body. That car had a full battery and never needed to generate its own power on the fly. It felt hefty, due to the weight of the battery pack, but it accelerated quickly with its torque-strong electric motor.

This car provided similar performance. Off the-the-line acceleration was dialed back a bit, GM told me, to protect the test car from a jolting, tire-screeching start. Production cars could be a little quicker to jump out. The rush from 15 miles per hour to 60 was actually more striking, providing a respectable punch of power when the "gas" pedal hits the floor. Volt drivers aren't going to be challenging Camaros to drag races, but they'll have plenty of power to do anything the need to, especially with the Volt's "Sport" mode button pressed.

Finally after a couple of laps around the Warren Tech Center watching the battery-level indicator drop, I slammed the accelerator to the floor one more time. The battery indicator's diminishing green bar briefly changed to a something the shape of a gas pump as the car continued its rush up to speed. If the the changing icon hadn't caught my eye, I wouldn't have known it finally needed to burn some gasoline. Just as in the best hybrid cars today, there was little noise and no jolt or bump in the transition from battery power to gasoline.

NEXT: Power to the wheels

Last updated January 11 2010: 12:49 PM ET
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