Chevrolet Volt pre-production IVER prototype - Click above for high-res image gallery

While visiting General Motors' product technology showcase this week, we had the opportunity to take a tour through the pre-production operations area where the integration vehicle engineering release prototypes (IVER) Volts are coming together, and then later we went for a ride in one with chief engineer Frank Weber. GM started building these integration prototypes in late May and is currently finishing them at the rate of 10 per week. By the time the whole fleet is done later this summer, 80 Volts will be running through a battery of tests to evaluate all aspects of the car. There are currently about 20 IVERs running at Milford, Warren and elsewhere.

After the tour we went over to the Milford Proving Grounds and Weber brought out the newest Volt to take journalists for quick rides around the loop on "Black Lake", the vehicle dynamics area. Unfortunately, only Weber was allowed to pilot the Volt and since it arrived with a full charge, we didn't get an opportunity to experience the charge sustaining mode. Read on after the jump for more about how the Volt feels from the passenger seat and to watch a short video of our experience.

Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

We can make a few preliminary comments on the car though. Since we weren't allowed to drive, I decided to hop in the back seat. The Volt is considered a compact, but in spite of the sloping roof-line, it still felt surprisingly roomy. Both leg and headroom were more than adequate for this journ's long-torsoed 5'10" frame. While most small cars are outfitted with three rear seatbelts, the reality is that none are actually wide enough for more than two adults. Thus, the four seat configuration mandated by the center tunnel mounted battery is not a problem for most practical purposes.

Behind the seats there is plenty of room for cargo under the tall rear deck, and storage cubbies and cup-holders molded into the console covering the battery will prove handy for rear passengers. When Weber took off around the loop, the Volt accelerated with authority even with four adults on board. The relatively low profile and concentrated battery mass down low meant body roll felt minimized around corners. From the back seat at least, the two LCD screens appeared to be relatively resistant to glare. Hopefully we'll soon have a chance to get behind the wheel ourselves and experience the charge sustaining mode, as well. Stay tuned.

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