Test drove an ELR today...(short)
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Thread: Test drove an ELR today...(short)

  1. #1
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    Default Test drove an ELR today...(short)

    OK, so I will apologize right now for this review - you won't get my usual novel write-up. My test drive was way shorter than I had hoped and on mostly crowded streets. I can also completely kick myself for NOT trying the regen paddles or hold mode acceleration! In fairness, the "paddles" are hidden and not like traditional paddles that stick out from the sides of the base of the wheel...ok, yeah, that's an excuse.

    Anyway, some of my takeaways:

    Exterior
    Like a lot of you I have stared at pictures long enough that there were no surprises here. It looks like it looks in the pics, but it does have more presence in person. The rear haunches in particular appear beefy and overall the car has that sloped forward NHRA funny car look about it (in a good way). I really liked the head on grill view and those headlights are really slick. The side view could have a little more interest as it is a little slab-sided. Probably didn't help that it was black and dirty from all the rain we've had.

    Interior
    Even in black (which I find to be the least interesting of the interior color choices), it looks sharp. There is leather and suede everywhere (except in the lower section of the rear seat area side panel). The multiple layers and textures are perhaps a bit overwrought, but its nothing you can't get used to, and really a matter of taste - I love the suede headliner. I have never used CUE before, and I've read the 18 billion reviews criticizing every Caddy with it. However, I found it IMMEDIATELY usable, and the screen and graphics were very nice. Touch screen was actually easier to use than the Volt in many respects. I was a bit mesmerized by the sleek screen and general sharp look of the console. The haptic feedback feature was fine and the thing it does when your fingers get close to the screen (i.e. menu of icons pops up) was slick too. Now, admittedly, I tried many of these features out in the parking lot before I pulled away, so use "in flight" might not be as easy. Heck, even after having owned the Volt for a year I find myself hunting for "buttons" on its crazy center stack. The navigation was slick too - just a richer looking map layout than the Volt's more "cartoon like" layout.

    The seats were comfortable, and reasonably supportive (as best I could tell on this limited drive) and electric of course. There was no sliding under thigh bolster like you find on BMW's sport seats, but I didn't miss it.

    Visibility is typical of a sport coupe (i.e. somewhat limited), but more than tolerable. You want to feel like you are in a German gun turret at Normandy...get a Camaro.

    The doors were typical of this class of car - that is to say a bit too big, and heavy. Hardly a deal breaker, but understand that's what you are getting yourself into...think more 6 series BMW and less two door Miata. As a frameless door, the windows do the little pop down a 1/4 inch and pop back up when you open and close the door (for a tight seal). For some reason, I've never liked that on a car...but that's just me.

    The Drive
    As noted, it was short. According to Google Maps, it was exactly 4.0 miles and a square (i.e. pull out of dealership and make right onto frontage road, turn right at first light, drive a bit on city street, another right, etc. back to dealership). All told there were 4 right turns not counting the ones out of or into the dealership. I provide this detail so you'll understand what I was up against in trying to determine anything. The salesman was a bit hesitant about a test drive at first, but I purposely go on week days so as not to waste their time when there are "Saturday buyers" walking onto the lot. I was up front with him when I said my lease wasn't up for quite a while, etc.

    My first impression was when I shut the door...heavy solid thunk. I then pulled out of the parking lot and felt the next defining characteristic as compared to the Volt...the weight. You can really feel the weight difference. It is immediately apparent. I feel the weight of passengers in the Volt and its impact on performance, but this was different. It was more of that big heavy "German" feel. I had the car in Low immediately (since that's what I drive in with the Volt), and I didn't notice anything unusual which probably tells me the regen was similar (sorry, we were talking and driving so I didn't pay nearly as much attention to this). The brake pedal itself seemed to feel a bit spongy...so much so that I noted it...take that for what it is worth. When I pulled out of the dealership I hit the go pedal (dang, its in tour or whatever mode is like "Normal" I thought) so I planted it. Its kind of weird. I could tell this drivetrain felt stronger than the Volt, but with the added weight the end result was similar. The torque didn't appear to drop off a cliff quite as dramatically as the Volt, but again, hard to remember.

    It is definitely quiet, and appeared to be a whole notch above the Volt in this area - maybe a notch and a half (how's that for being scientific). Unfortunately, I drove my wife's SUV to the test and wasn't able to 100% A/B against the Volt when I left. I can say it was a heckuva lot quieter than her small luxury SUV!

    When I got to that first light I scrambled to find the drive mode switch (on the console, FYI) and quickly moved it to Sport (which I think is the mode that firms up the dampers and sharpens throttle response). I then proceeded to drive in slow traffic on the city street....not the best test of "sport" mode. I left it in this mode for the rest of the journey since the "drive" is one of the areas I want to address on my next ride. A railroad track was a bit bumpy as I crossed it - no more so than the Volt though - perhaps more isolated. I would have liked to drive over it again in normal mode to see if damper settings make a difference.

    I did some accelerating (foot to the floor) on the last two roads and swapped lanes a few times to try and get a feel for the handling. My last impression after this (limited test) was the same as the first. This is a heavier luxury car as opposed to a more tossable fun coupe. Steering was light - since I had drive the wife's SUV which is a heavier than the Volt it might have seemed lighter than it was, but I think it is fair to say it was comparable to the Volt. The acceleration was modest and didn't really inspire me to any kind of hooliganism. Indeed, because of the weight, it probably inspired a bit less. Instead, I was more inspired to simply enjoy a nice luxury coupe.

    Ultimately, the ELR is a nice car and we all know electric offers a "luxury" driving experience. In 10 years, we'll see a ton of cars with electric drive trains and they'll all have that benefit. Today, however, there are a handful and none are as luxurious as this ride. If the acceleration were stronger, the steering feedback a bit tighter and the handling sharper, I might be inclined to streeeeeetch for one of these - but those are my priorities. Not all prospective buyers might agree. In reality, I might still be inclined if the General released ridiculous lease deals. The used car market is another option, but low production numbers will probably keep the values a bit higher than I would like.

    A few weeks ago I posted my test drive review of a Tesla Model S...put that car's acceleration in this body and tighten the handling and I'm trying to find a way to justify a purchase to my wife.

    Well, lookie there, I almost got a novel after all...
    Last edited by cab; 01-10-2014 at 07:30 PM.
    2012 Blue Topaz Volt - Loaded
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    2002 BMW M5 (Sold to buy Volt!)

  2. #2
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    How were the instruments? Did you try the different configurations?

    Also, does the air dam scrape on the pavement like the Volt's? I would imagine it's higher up.

    -Drew

  3. #3

    Default Great Review

    Great review -- thanks for taking the trouble to fill us in on your impressions. I suspect that if I did an ELR test drive my perceptions would be about the same as what you report.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtndrew1 View Post
    How were the instruments? Did you try the different configurations?

    Also, does the air dam scrape on the pavement like the Volt's? I would imagine it's higher up.

    -Drew
    I cycled through the instrument options on the screen directly in front of the driver (i.e. the classic instrument panel). If I recall, there was a classic, classic enhanced, modem and modern enhanced. I quickly cycled while parked and settled on modern enhanced since it was the only view that seemed to show more "electric" stuff at rest...sorry, didn't really pay as much attention in drive. I think there is a video on here somewhere showing it. For the center stack, there is a leaf icon and you choose it and get what appeared (at a glance anyway) to be the screens with identical information to the Volt...prettier, but I don't recall seeing any more info.

    With regard to the air dam, I don't remember ever hearing it scraping now that you mention it and when I glanced down there I seem to recall noting the spoiler was shorter. It was wet out and I didn't feel like getting down on the ground to look (which I've been known to do).
    Last edited by cab; 01-10-2014 at 07:51 PM. Reason: air dam info
    2012 Blue Topaz Volt - Loaded
    2012 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design
    1997 BMW M3
    2002 BMW M5 (Sold to buy Volt!)

  6. #5
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    Enjoyed your review, cab! Both reviews!
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    Thanks, cab! So to all the auto-reviewers who claimed the ELR was very noisy (to the point of making a big deal about it), what would your response be?
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  8. #7
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    Thanks for the review, cab! Did you get a look at the reverse camera? If so, was it better than your Volt's? Did you happen to engage the engine in Hold mode during your short drive to see if it was quieter than the Volt's? Can't wait for my local dealership to get one in so I can give it a spin on the highway. Also, can you zoom in on the map to get a detailed Building Scale view (where you can see ghosted 3D outlines of buildings nearby)?

  9. #8
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    Thanks for the review(s)!

    Quote Originally Posted by cab View Post
    In reality, I might still be inclined if the General released ridiculous lease deals. The used car market is another option, but low production numbers will probably keep the values a bit higher than I would like.

    A few weeks ago I posted my test drive review of a Tesla Model S...put that car's acceleration in this body and tighten the handling and I'm trying to find a way to justify a purchase to my wife.
    Truth is that at these prices there is no real way to "justify" the purchase. You need it because you want it. LOL

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steverino View Post
    Thanks, cab! So to all the auto-reviewers who claimed the ELR was very noisy (to the point of making a big deal about it), what would your response be?
    I'd be surprised if he used the generator in the course of four miles and, if he did, it certainly wouldn't be taxed beyond the initial kick-over where it's at roughly idle speed for a minute or two. The Volt itself has an almost imperceptible ICE for the first minute or two or when not being strained. The reviews were critical of the NVH of the ICE, not the ELR itself.

    -Drew

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  12. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steverino View Post
    Thanks, cab! So to all the auto-reviewers who claimed the ELR was very noisy (to the point of making a big deal about it), what would your response be?
    It was quiet during the low speed (under 40 most of the way...max I got to was probably 55 or 60 for a second or two) - Even the Volt is pretty quiet at low speeds. It's freeway slogs on things like grooved concrete where the Volt can actually be louder than luxury cars (because the primary source of noise at those speeds is wind and tire/road noise) - never got on the freeway, and I did not engage Hold mode or hear the engine run I'm afraid.
    2012 Blue Topaz Volt - Loaded
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