Comparison Puts 2016 Chevrolet Volt In Last Place Against BMW i3 & Audi A3 e-tron


2016 Chevrolet Volt With Hatchback Open (Photo: Tom Moloughney/InsideEVs)

2016 Chevrolet Volt With Hatchback Open (Photo: Tom Moloughney/InsideEVs)

2016 Chevrolet Volt Rear Hatch And Seating From Launch Event - Image Credit: Tom Moloughney/InsideEVs

2016 Chevrolet Volt Rear Hatch And Seating From Launch Event – Image Credit: Tom Moloughney/InsideEVs

We doubt that more than a handful of individuals in the world have driven all three of these plug-in electric cars: 2016 Chevrolet Volt, BMW i3 and Audi A3 e-tron.

The few that have are likely engineers at General Motors.  Those would be the only individuals who can right now give a definitive judgement on this trio of cars.

But that hasn’t prevented the folks from Quattro Daily (Audi-oriented website) from passing judgment on these three cars.

We should point out that Quattro Daily makes some critical errors. One of the biggest faults in the article is contained in this line:

“The A3 e-tron is the most practical of the bunch. Being a hatchback over the Volt’s sedan body style, it can carry more stuff and has more cargo room.”

Um…no.  The 2016 Volt, like the first-generation Volt, is a hatchback.

It does seem likely that more cargo could be hauled around in the A3 e-tron due to its station wagon-like design, but make no mistake, the Volt is a hatchback that can certainly haul a significant amount of goods.  Officially, with the seats up, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt has 301 liters of cargo volume (no figures have been released for seats in the folded-down position).  Meanwhile, the A3 Sportback (non e-tron) has 380 liters of cargo volume with the seats up (e-tron models have slightly less).

A3 e-Tron Looks More Station Wagon-Like

A3 e-Tron Looks More Station Wagon-Like

Additionally, Quattro Daily states:

“All three and great and the Volt looks better than I thought, but without having driven it and knowing how poor the first-gen was to drive, I’m gonna have to put it last.”

That’s probably the first time we’ve heard that the first-gen Volt is poor in terms of driving dynamics.

With the sedan/hatch oversight in mind (and knowing that the author of the comparison article has not driven the 2016 Volt), here’s how Quattro Daily ranks the 3 plug-in electric cars.

  • 1st: BMW i3
  • 2nd: Audi A3 Sportback e-tron
  • 3rd: Chevy Volt

Full review can be found at Quattro Daily

Category: AudiBMWChevrolet,

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57 responses to "Comparison Puts 2016 Chevrolet Volt In Last Place Against BMW i3 & Audi A3 e-tron"
  1. Aaron says:

    Another comparison full of errors and assumptions. This should not be highlighted here on InsideEVs.

    1. Murrysville EV says:

      Agreed. It’s not even really a comparison.

      1. storky says:

        Not having read the review, I would conclude the author sucks. ;p

        1. Ozz says:

          /\ +1
          Thanks for the laugh. I was thinking the same thing.

  2. Elroy says:

    Wow, an Audi based site picks the i3 number one??

    1. Joe says:

      Weird. The Audi takes 11 seconds to reach 60 on electric, meaning the ev side is just an after thought. Also costs $4-6 thousand more for less ev, less battery, and less ev credit.

      C&D already tested it.

      1. Brian says:

        Afterthought? Or complementary? The e-Tron is a hybrid. By definition, a combination of two things. In this case, an ICE powertrain and an EV powertrain. So if Audi avails itself of both to provide full acceleration, what is the problem?

        Sometimes we, as a community, need to step back and admit that 1) in some cases ICEs are actually superior to electric motors and 2) the world outside of our bubble is not yet ready to convert to EV – they need to be primed by cars such as the e-Tron (which will reach a large audience that would never consider a car with a Chevy Bowtie on the front).

  3. Khai L. says:

    I’m going to disagree with Eric here. Your second point is subjective, and your first point is in error.

    Quattro Daily is correct in stating that the volt has a sedan “body style”. Structurally, it might be a hatchback, just like the Model S is one too, but it’s shaped like a sedan.

    1. Scramjett says:

      You say potato…

      I think your argument against his first point is basically semantics.

    2. Ziv says:

      Khai, I hear you but in what world is a car with a hatch in the back not a hatchback? A lot of people complained about the Volt BECAUSE in part it was a hatchback. Judging from other errors I think the author just didn’t know much about the Volt.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        The proper description of the Tesla Model S is “hatchback sedan”. The term “hatchback”, used alone, implies a different body style.

        It’s not mere semantics to note the difference between the two uses of the term “hatchback”. One meaning is the actual hatch opening on the back of a car; and the other, as in “a hatchback”, refers to a specific automobile body style typical of cars which have a rear hatch.

        I agree that the Volt does look like a hatchback body style rather than a sedan body style. In the diagram below, the top image shows a typical sedan, an the bottom image shows a typical hatchback.

        Of course, one could argue that “hatchback” implies a two-door car, and that the Volt should be called a “sedan” because it’s a four-door. In my personal opinion, hatchbacks have become so commonplace that the term should be expanded to include four-door hatchbacks.

  4. Evil Attorney says:

    “…knowing how poor the first-gen was to drive”

    Umm, ok, that’s the the first time I’ve heard that one. The Volt’s no Tesla, but it’s certainly above average in terms of its driving.

    1. George Parrott says:

      I have had a 1996 A4 estate, a 2011 Chevy Volt and then a 2014 Chevy Volt, and a 2013 Tesla Model S85 and now a 2015 Model S P85D.

      I am seriously considering getting a 2016 Volt as my “knock around” car to keep from putting so many miles on my P85D. Even the earlier Volt cars handled like an Audi and better than my 1999 BMW 328 (I think that was the model designation…too many cars over too many years).

      And certainly in a comparison such as this one….done by a “German-biased” source it seems, there is NO factor for VALUE and seemingly none for “overall functionality.”

      The Volt, especially the specifications for the 2016 model are MOST impressive to me. I have considered the i3 as my “second car” but the limited EV range and PUNY range extension option at those $$$$ just do not compute for me and neither do the specifications on the e-tron seem all that impressive vis-a-vis the 2015 Volt.

      Heck, over there are still people who actually like the Lada.

      1. Scramjett says:

        I got to drive the Tesla 60 and that was definitely the most fun I’ve ever had in a car! I can’t even imagine how fun the P85D would be!

      2. kickincanada says:

        Buy the 2016 Volt. You won’t regret it. Really fantastic vehicle.

    2. philip d says:

      They also fail to compare these 3 being driven in pure EV mode. In that case with the A3 having only a 100 hp motor would certainly be last. They are trying to compare 2 PHEVs with one using gas/electric and the other using only electricity.

  5. Ziv says:

    I had to leave a comment on his site. But it is interesting that an Audi fanboy site has the BMW in first.

  6. Brian says:

    Laughable. Ha.

    I do want to know what his expectations for driving dynamics are, such that he rates the Gen 1 Volt as “poor”. While I’ve had cars that drive better, I’d hardly rate the Volt as “poor”. This comment makes me really want to test-drive the e-tron to see how well it truly drives. Either this guy is absurdly biased (most likely, given the Audi-centric source), or the e-Tron drives like a dream!

    1. kdawg says:

      I’m guessing he never drove a Gen1 Volt either.

      The Quatro Daily article is click-bait for their followers.

      1. Michael Will says:

        I have driven volt gen 1 and the acceleration is abysmal, did not even feel save on the highway, which is probably what contributes to his driving dynamics judgement. It’s basically below what a pure ICE car would do, and then on the other end of the spectrum are the EVs which are excellent in that regard and generally do better than what an ICE would do.

        1. HelloBowlesHall says:

          I own a Volt and I cannot agree with your statement. The acceleration and driving are significantly better than most, perhaps all, ICE’s I’ve ever owned. Highway speed acceleration isn’t its strong point, granted, but I feel in NO way unsafe at speed in the car.

          1. Ian Leland says:

            I love my volt and it’s instant torque around town and on freeway is above average compared to other vehicles I have owned . I have the black on black leather premium volt with Bose sound system , nav and frontal collision warning . It’s faster off the line that my Passat turbo 6-speed was since you had to wait for turbo to kick on .love my volt

        2. Brian says:

          I’m with HelloBowlesHall. I don’t know what you’re talking about – the Volt has plenty of passing power.

          The only thing I will give you is that if you floor the car at 0, you can notice a drop in acceleration as your speed gets higher. This is due to the fact that the Volt is actually already at full power, and P = fv, and f=ma. So the fast you are going, the less acceleration you get. By contrast, a typical ICE is geared so that power continues to increase with RPMs, giving you a more constant acceleration. The car subjectively feels less powerful on the highway, but it’s only because you have *more* power at slower speeds.

        3. philip d says:

          You also may have been driving in normal mode rather than sport. Sport mode remaps the accelerator to give you more torque and power in the top part of the pedal rather than having to stomp it to the floor to get full power. I almost always drive on the highway in sport mode. It also makes a difference if you have 2-4 200 lb adults vs. just one person. That is true in most cars though.

        4. Steve says:

          Really? You must think a car is only safe if a car can do 0-60 in under 4 seconds. That’s nonsense. More power is likely to get you into more trouble faster than it will ever get you out of trouble.

    2. Scramjett says:

      My definition of good driving dynamics is based on how a car handles on Hwy 1 in the northern coast of California (Sonoma, Mendocino, or Humbolt). Unless anyone has driven a car on that road (or can prove that they’ve test driven on a similar enough road) I don’t buy into their definition of “good driving dynamics.” One of the reasons why I like Alex on Autos is because he tests a lot of the cars he drives in the Santa Cruz mountains which has many roads like Hwy 1. So when he says a car has good driving dynamics I believe him. I look forward to his Volt review (and I’d wager he’ll have one of the A3 PHEV variant coming out).

      1. sven says:

        Alex is the best car reviewer out there.

      2. Brian says:

        I would put the Santa Cruz mountains over Highway 1 as a gold standard for testing driving dynamics. I have driven Highway 1 from Oceanside, OR to the Golden Gate bridge. I’ve also driven the switchbacks many times from Stanford’s campus over the Santa Cruz mountains to the ocean. I have never driven more engaging roads.

        However, that doesn’t mean that one cannot get a good feel for a car elsewhere. There are twisty roads throughout the world. I have driven a Gen 1 Volt, but not through the Santa Cruz mountains. But I know that the instant torque and smooth shiftless transmission would make it an exhilarating drive!

        The key of all of this is actually driving the car. The reviewer admits he never drove the 2016 Volt (not surprising – few have). So a comparison is pure speculation.

        1. Brian says:

          Actually, it looks like Highway 1 starts in Leggett, CA. North of that, I was driving on 101. But you get the point. (this trip was 10 years ago, and I was relying on memory).

  7. pjwood1 says:

    Test drives, or “I read it on the internet”.

  8. Eric Cote says:

    So they didn’t test drive it, got the details of the car wrong (hatchback, not sedan), but claim it inferior?

    Is any of this conclusion based on objective truth, or preconceived bias?

    1. Bill Howland says:

      If they’re
      going to Knock the 2011 volt, its only because of the cheapie weak-sidewalled OEM tires. Or maybe the somewhat mediocre 0-60 acceleration, since that’s all they seem to care about in EV Fandom.

      But all-around-driving, its not too shabby a ride.

      My Roadster had fantastic off the line acceleration (since it was best under 50 mph), but mediocre handling compared to the equivalent Elise, and overloaded tires.

      But Canadian friends I know who own both a Roadster and an “S” tell me the Roadster overall is the more ‘fun’ car. I can’t disagree.

      So unfortunately for the casual reader, all the reader can do is to read…. More….

      Broder was substantially correct in his evaluation of the “S”, and Topgear was substantially correct in their evaluation of the Roadster.

      I paid hard cash for my roadster, but was not upset when hearing Jeremy Clarkson’s review of it, figuring the ‘turning up the nose at it’ was just the perfuctory British Snobbery.

      But you’d never know it from the Vitriole cast on both men here and elsewhere, especially from “BIG EXPERTS” who’ve never driven either car.

      And as far as the “…WE ALL KNOW Roadsters have more than 57 miles of range…”, the only thing I can say to Eric Loveday is that you’ve never let Brian here drive the thing.

      1. Brian says:

        It’s all in how you drive it, right? There are people on here and other forums who will never believe that I get no more than 25 miles out of my Leaf in the coldest winter day. And preheating doesn’t help that one bit.

        Ironically, I could probably get 57 miles out of a 2016 Volt. If I really wanted to.

      2. ClarksonCote says:

        Darn Bill, I smell a challenge here. If you still had that Roadster, I would try real hard to get that range estimate even lower than Brian, or die trying. 😉

        1. Bill Howland says:

          Its not as fast as your airplane.

  9. offib says:

    Hmm… Quattro Daily? What do you think that links to, guys? Whatever it is and we know what, they’ll have their heads cut off for letting a BMW take 1st place.

  10. Open-Mind says:

    Not saying which car is “best”, but I wish my Volt had the flat roof-line of my previous hatchback … a Mazdaspeed 3.

    Even though my Mazda was (I think) a bit smaller, it had more rear head room, more cargo room, and better rear visibility.

    1. storky says:

      I would like very much to fit in the 2016 Chevy Volt. I could not get my knee past the steering column in the first generation Volt. Oddly, the Nissan Leaf accepts my 6’5″ frame with plenty of head room.

      1. philip d says:

        I am 6’4″ and have been driving one for 3 years. If you slide the seats back there is plenty of legroom.

        You are right that there is less headroom in the Volt than the Leaf. I drove my Volt for the first couple of months before I realized you can lower the seat quite a bit to give more headroom. In fact the seat’s up and down range is so great that I can lower the seat too much to where visibility is poor. You should have no problem fitting in with the seat configured correctly. Now trying to fit a 6’+ passenger behind you is another story.

      2. leeG says:

        I’m 6′ 5″ and have no problem driving my Volt. The seat adjusts in height and the steering wheel adjusts up, down, in and out. The down side is with the driver seat all the way back there isn’t much leg room for anyone sitting behind me. But that’s pretty typical with most cars I’ve owned.

      3. ClarksonCote says:

        Methinks you should have moved the seat back, or moved the telescoping steering wheel forward.

      4. Ziv says:

        Storky, I am 6’4″, 220 lbs., so I am a fairly big guy too. And the front seats are pretty good in the Volt. I telescope the wheel all the way back and down a bit so I can see the dash better. Never had any issue getting in or out or my knees touching anything. I think the Volt you test drove must have had the wheel locked in the fully down and forward position somehow.
        Don’t get me started on the crappy tight back seats though.

  11. miggy says:

    The good thing about the BMW and Audi is that they are available worldwide yet the new 2016 Volt will only be sold in two counties.

    1. Herto says:

      We hope GM could change its mind about it. We are running a petition to get the Gen2 in Europe.

      1. Nate says:

        Unlikely without a preferential trade agreement, or the assembly moved outside the U.S.

  12. ModernMarvelFan says:

    Maybe I should start a blogger site called “Quattro Daily for dummies”…

    I guess the “former Audi” head is still running the same Audi site. LOL.

  13. Tom says:

    I’ve seen the new Volt driving around a dozen or so times in the Metro Detroit area. They’re fairly common for a vehicle that’s not launched yet

  14. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

    Quoting from the linked article:

    “The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron… does have the worst pure EV range of the group, at 31 miles…”

    Yet you’re claiming the Volt comes in last place in this comparison? You’re using the wrong yardstick.

    Still, if that’s a real-world 31 miles, and not the typically inflated number from the car maker, I think that puts the Audi A3 e-tron in second place for range among all PHEVs. Still significantly less than the Volt, but at least better than most of the field, which have only 25 miles or less of electric range.

    However, since there is no figure given for the kWh of the e-tron’s battery pack, I’m rather skeptical that the claimed 31 miles represents a real-world figure.

    1. kimmi says:

      the 31 miles are probably NEDC, not EPA

      1. Herto says:

        The 31 miles ARE NEDC miles.

    2. Luke says:

      From Audi US Brochure:

      “Drive up to 19 miles on pure battery power”

      Seems about right for NEDC to EPA…

  15. Chris B says:

    On one of the few A3 E-tron forums it seems the owners (barely plural) are getting more like 20-24 miles on a charge in mild weather.

  16. Speculawyer says:

    German car-loving Audiphiles pick German cars over the American car? I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

  17. Herto says:

    Cargo room (seats up) for the A3 e-tron is 280l. That’s less than the volt.

    1. Brian says:

      Looking at the car from the side, this is surprising. And disappointing. It’s great that we are getting more plug-ins, but we really need a PHEV / EREV in a physically larger package to appeal to more Americans.