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2016 Chevrolet Volt sparks attention in Vegas

CES 2015: General Motors has been showing off the new Chevrolet Volt ahead of its Detroit motor show public unveiling later in January.

The biggest news is that the Voltec powertrain is brand spankers, as in, it has been redesigned from the ground up. This, according to General Motors, has helped the battery pack weigh 13kg less while having a 20 per cent larger capacity.

The two electric motors themselves are said to save another 45kg of weight and require less rare materials to be built, yet operate 12 per cent more efficiently. Electric acceleration, meanwhile, is said to be improved by 20 per cent so expect a better 0 to 62mph and a more spritely drive.

Another change is the battery pack, Autocar reports, which now sits lower in the car for a lower centre of gravity. There’s also a brand new 1.5-litre petrol running the range extender engine that is said to be more refined and smoother than the current 1.4-litre.

Range will remain similar because customers “didn’t want” more, according to the head of the General Motors electrification engineering team, Larry Nitz. Only 15 per cent of Volt owners surpassed 40 miles, while most of the 300-strong owner study exceeded the official 35-mile figure, he explained.

It appears there have been a few aesthetic tweaks on the outside and hopefully on the inside, too, as the old Volt had some ‘interesting’ plastic dashboard action going on.

The Volt is likely to pass us by due to Chevrolet withdrawing from Western Europe. It helps little that Vauxhall said it had no plans to replace the Ampera, a virtually identical version sold in the UK.

We spent a week with the Volt and Ampera and found them both to be pleasant performers. Quick enough for real-world use and cheap enough to run – so long as you keep the battery juiced up. Improved performance and that new petrol engine should only make the 2016 model more tempting.

Expect General Motors to announce full details on the 15th of January when the Detroit motor show kicks off. Read our current Chevrolet Volt review in the meantime.

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