Chevrolet Volt: First drive

We’ve spent a lot of time blogging about the brilliant Vauxhall Ampera, the extended-range electric car that removes range anxiety and practicality issues from the minds of electric car buyers.

But what about the Chevrolet Volt? The car with the near-identical power system and winner of the prestigious North American Car of the Year is set to arrive in the UK and we got behind the wheel to test it out.

The Chevrolet Volt is essentially the same car as the Ampera – both brands are owned by General Motors – and has the same 50-mile range on purely electric energy.

It also boasts a 350-mile total range once the petrol engine kicks in automatically, recharging the battery on the move and delivering incredible running costs including 250mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 27g/km.

Unlike the Ampera, the Volt comes in a single, well-equipped trim priced at just £29,995 after the government’s plug-in car grant is taken into account.

Standard equipment in generous; it includes 17″ alloy wheels, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth, heated leather seats and LED interior lighting, but extra equipment can be added as part of an optional pack.

Drivers will also get a seven-inch touch screen capable of showing entertainment, satellite navigation and battery information at the push of a button.

The interior is very impressive and it feels almost like an executive-level car. In terms of equipment, it actually comes with more than the forthcoming entry-level Vauxhall Ampera, which arrives in September with a £29,995 price tag.

For UK buyers, comparing the Ampera and the Volt will be a difficult choice. Both offer plenty of style, equipment and ultra-low running costs.

While higher specification levels on the Ampera offer more equipment, the Volt offers the best value at the bottom of the price range.

Either way, customers will be driving a car of the future, today.

Scroll down to see some images of the new 2012 Chevrolet Volt.