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A little different perspective on the Bolt in hopes of being useful to others.

Having read all the glowing reviews of the GM pre-arranged glory drives down the California coast in nice weather, and a few early reports from you SoCal hippies :laugh:, when I left to pick up the car, it was 2 degrees and icy. Nokian Hakkapeliita R2s loaded up and off through the blizzard. Zero intention of keeping the heat down, heated steering wheel or seat heaters off.

It was a big day for me. Have never owned an automatic transmission. Never owned a car without a "sport" suspension. Never bought an "American" car. (Well this one's mostly Korean, right down to its wheels). Assembled by good men and women right down the road from where I grew up. <<Heart swells with pseudo-patriotic pride>>

Score 1 for Josh Tavel and team!

I rate GM Financial and the lease team decisions on this car decidedly lower, but this is the subject of much debate on other threads here; this is post "pay to play" decision.

First thoughts, besides "I really like this car!", not in order: Thanks to all of you! The car already felt familiar, and I'll try not to repeat others' observations here.

It's a quick runabout, no turbo boost, but one learns to appreciate linear power and the "low" setting almost immediately.

Suspension: I've never owned a non-lowered/sport suspension car, and it just feels like it's on stilts. Many of you won't care/will like it, so this may not apply to you, no worries, move along. I'll be aiming to lower it 1-1.5". Updates to follow.

The tires: stock tires are 23# each, Nokian R2s (non-run flat) 20# (uninflated). Already a savings in unsprung weight. The stock no-seasons appear to be the regular Michelins with a layer of sticky sap (the source of the weight) on the inside. Don't seem like any engineering marvels to me. Planning on summer tires.

Wheels: (made in Korea) bolt pattern appears to be (via caliper and the tire guy): 5x140. The weight of the stock wheel and tire (deflated) was 45#. That appears to make the stock (premier) wheels 22#, though I didn't get to measure them individually (dammit) before he mounted the R2s on.

The seats. The front seat criticisms are WELL deserved, and you should all sit in them before you sign/decide on this car. Tall, average build here, and not that picky about seats or prone to back problems...and I would easily say these are the worst seats in any car I've ever owned. My friend had similar observations. My impression is that they'll best fit slender, shorter individuals (i.e., not your average American.) I can live with them (but I'm not going to, keep reading), but my wife will not. They will cause her to reject the car entirely, which is a shame, because it has a lot going for it. Briefly, at about the point where you would click your seatbelt in on either side (my finger's pointing to it in the photo), there is so little padding (and it's far less dense than I imagined/is in most european cars) that your cheek essentially hits the plastic on the seat frame. And that's when they're new / not worn down. Not quite sure how this made it through committee, not ready for prime time. The minimal extra weight needed to be added in foam pales in comparison to the weight of these cars sitting on the lots until they improve the seats. If that weren't bad enough, there is such minimal padding on the bolsters that your lateral ribs feel like they're riding on the ?plastic seat frame underneath, and fairly minimal and non-adjustable lumbar support. I think I would be ok with them for the short commuter trips that this car inspires, but I already have an auto upholstery shop working on an upgrade so that my wife will drive/drive in the Bolt. They are planning on adding more dense foam, possibly widening the frame slightly depending on what they see when they open up the seat, and adding additional lumbar support. It would not take much weight or widening to make them adequate; would recommend the team to look at Audi/VW, Volvo, or other good examples. This should get addressed ASAP; I'm doing it on my own, but shouldn't have to.

The trunk: Josh Tavel was right to be pissed at whatever clueless morons represent his superiors, who insisted on a round spare tire well, a huge wasted space around it under the car as shown in photos on this site and others. Extensive wasted space in a rectangular area around the "tire well" under the car, in a hatch that could have a lot more cargo space. There is literally a foot of wasted / lost cargo area space in front of the spare tire well to the back of the battery wall, not counting the wasted space from having a round not for a tire well with wasted space all around it. I do hope that in my upcoming Bolt SS that they make much better use of this wasted space by adding the AWD module there, and squaring out the cargo area. None of that space is covered by the (thin) underbody battery shield, worsening aero, and the metal floor of the well is very thin. How they make this error worse by filling up the entire wasted area with block foam, into which they stick a single tow hook, is more than a little head scratching. My salesman further deepened the mystery by explaining that it isn't even a regular tow hook; it's used only for shipping overseas and loading onto a boat?! Needless to say, my cargo area has been temporarily expanded by several cubic feet by removing this nonsense, and the "package shelf". The car has nearly SUV/minivan depth cargo room (which could have been even better!!) without the fluff. Temporarily, because of:

Stock stereo: Specifically didn't order the optional Blose nonsense out of past disappointments, and those of you hoping the stock stereo will suffice can let that dream go now. It's laughable. A small rubber band might provide more audio quality. If you just like talk radio and pop garbage at low levels, you might be ok (I pity you). Specific, factory integrated upgrade with a proper sub and extremely efficient power sources in the works.

Badging: Most of you won't care here, so move along, but the oversized branding by many manufacturers (Especially Chevy,Toyota, and Ram) is something I completely reject. I reject shirts with big brand labeling on them for the same reason. Their rolling branding also disrupts proper symmetry, so I'll be removing the "Bolt EV" lettering on the hatch in addition to the oversized GOLD bowtie, which matches nothing else on the car except the one on the front that will be wrapped or painted. The back one appears to be adhesive only (it's on the glass), but the front one is inset a bit. We've already popped off the engine trim and it has a couple plastic tabs poking through the back.

Continued updates to follow, but wanted to share some raw initial thoughts. There you go.
 

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Thanks for an alternative review. For context, what cars have you come from? Also, if you don't mind my asking, what's your weight and height?

Finally, since you come from a sports-car background, what do you think of the Bolt's steering? My current car is a 2010 GTI, and the prior car a 2001 Miata, so I, too, prefer sportier cars. I am hoping the Bolt will satisfy that preference, though I know it will be limited by its weight and skimpy tires.
 

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Personally, at 5'9 and 145, I found the seat surprisingly good during a brief test-drive - it fit me nicely. However, I'm betting a number of on-order cars will be rejected for the seats, as they won't fit the average overweight American at all. I'd like to have the seatback bolsters built up for more lateral support, but otherwise I liked the seats pretty well.

Have a look at the Chevrolet site for Bolt Accessories - they offer a Black bowtie, which I'm thinking should look really good on my on-order black Bolt. I'm also considering swapping the mandatory grey "grill" panels for black.
 

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Is it possible to retain the seat heaters and modify the seats for more comfort?
 

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Is it possible to retain the seat heaters and modify the seats for more comfort?
It was on my last three cars; I've had the seatback bolsters built up for better lateral support during aggressive cornering. I'd probably have the same thing done on a Bolt. In Portland, I recommend Bright Auto Upholstery.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for an alternative review. For context, what cars have you come from? Also, if you don't mind my asking, what's your weight and height?

Finally, since you come from a sports-car background, what do you think of the Bolt's steering? My current car is a 2010 GTI, and the prior car a 2001 Miata, so I, too, prefer sportier cars. I am hoping the Bolt will satisfy that preference, though I know it will be limited by its weight and skimpy tires.
Nice! I'm about 6'2" and 215. Nearly anyone would notice the seat issues from the first drive. Again, I think that, while they're ridiculous seats for a (potentially) mass market car, that some like me could live with them, but probably not their spouse/s.o., or anyone that's picky. Only parts of the seat are significantly, noticeably uncomfortable, but they would be that way all the time. Thankfully, they can be fixed, they just shouldn't have to be. I've already taken more weight in useless foam out of the tire well than I will add back to the seats! Time for GM to fire their focus groups and just ask me! 0:)

The Bolt is replacing a 2010 GTI...Thumbs up! Just like the GTI, having a front wheel drive car with lots of torque just results in lots of tire spin, and very similarly, you have to learn to feather the throttle a bit at launch to allow the tires to grip. You probably also replaced the no seasons on your GTI if it came that way. My GTI is chipped+, and I can easily spin the tires through 3rd from a stop even with Z-rated rubber. The Bolt will spin through at least what would be 2nd. Wasn't going to push that too much on new snow tires, or the take off no seasons that I plan to sell, but it was obvious from the first drive that I'd be getting a set of summer tires, so I'd budget (the $ and ~5% reduction of range) if I were you. BTW, my other cars are a modified TT and A4 Avant.

It feels like it's on stilts, but it doesn't really feel that heavy...it's really more of a tin can with a heavy battery strapped to the bottom. Hence my bitching about paying luxury car prices for an econobox (ahem). Kind of like paying Audi prices and getting a Subaru WRX. (I know I'm an equal opportunity offender, deal with it haha!).

What it really needs is a proper suspension for those tires, either a factory "SS" treatment or a matched shock/spring combo. It's role in my stable just won't allow for the cost of coil overs, but a Koni FSD or H&R treatment will be gold for this car without affecting ride much.

All that said, and understanding the factors involved here with one of the first samples of a brand new car off the line, and pay to play, I really like the car! As with every car I've owned, I'll have to modify it to my preference, but that's just the way I roll, and many of you will see the light as well! I'll do my best to feed constructive feedback to the design team (I have an "in".)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
It was on my last three cars; I've had the seatback bolsters built up for better lateral support during aggressive cornering. I'd probably have the same thing done on a Bolt. In Portland, I recommend Bright Auto Upholstery.
My Bolt is already in for this treatment. Though not at Bright this time, I've had them work on a previous car, and recommend them. There won't be any aggressive cornering going on with the stock tires and suspension, but that's not too hard of a fix either. Once you're used to a proper stance, there's just no going back to the stilted life.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Personally, at 5'9 and 145, I found the seat surprisingly good during a brief test-drive - it fit me nicely. However, I'm betting a number of on-order cars will be rejected for the seats, as they won't fit the average overweight American at all. I'd like to have the seatback bolsters built up for more lateral support, but otherwise I liked the seats pretty well.

Have a look at the Chevrolet site for Bolt Accessories - they offer a Black bowtie, which I'm thinking should look really good on my on-order black Bolt. I'm also considering swapping the mandatory grey "grill" panels for black.
I think you're the ideal size for the Bolt seats dude. I think anyone bigger will find the barely padded side bolsters and corners of their cheeks parked on the plastic seat frames to be offensive. Doesn't bother me too much, as I'd prefer a rigid Recaro race frame seat, but it's just not what a Cheby commuter should be. The weight is a poor excuse, as I've already removed more weight in (useless) foam filler in the "tire well" than the additional I'll have put into the front seats. The problem with simply building up the bolsters is that will accentuate the already too narrow seats, so they'll also have to be winged out just a bit.

Mine is black too, I'll keep you updated on what I do with my front grill. Minimum it's a black badge (it's inset with 2 holes through the grill panel, so no simple removal possible.)
 

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It's the same molded foam block stuff that's under the carpet in many car's trunks, usually it fits around a spare, jack, etc. Except there is no spare. And no jack, and no toolkit. And no exhaust system in the way. So why not make better use of space, uggh... It's even two pieces, like would go over and around the spare, further baffling.

It definitely acts as sound deadening--with it removed (on the way to the audio shop for the subwoofer and amp to make better use of that space), you can hear every little stone that hits the underside of the paper thin metal floor of the tire well. That can and will be replaced with sound deadening in the form of dynamat; i.e., a more space efficient method could have been used, along with a more rectangular trunk well, massively freeing up cargo space.

As it is, once you remove the space wasting filler, your floor drops by several inches, and the cargo carpet cutout still fits.
 

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Thanks. I think I understand what/where you mean now. NoMoreGas has a good photo of it in the set of pictures he posted a link to.
 

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My Bolt is already in for this treatment. Though not at Bright this time, I've had them work on a previous car, and recommend them. There won't be any aggressive cornering going on with the stock tires and suspension, but that's not too hard of a fix either. Once you're used to a proper stance, there's just no going back to the stilted life.
you and I are built essentially the same and I have the exact same criticisms of the seats. Wonder how long it will take for someone to come up with a seat base. They really are very bad.
 

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Boltar, it's great to finally find someone who has a Bolt AND came from a mk6 GTI. You didn't answer my question about the steering ;-), but if the Bolt is good enough for you (seats non-withstanding), then it's good enough for me, whose GTI isn't even souped up as yours was.
 

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Boltar, it's great to finally find someone who has a Bolt AND came from a mk6 GTI. You didn't answer my question about the steering ;-), but if the Bolt is good enough for you (seats non-withstanding), then it's good enough for me, whose GTI isn't even souped up as yours was.
Forgive me brother, I will provide a more proper answer when I get a chance to better test. Picked it up in a blizzard, and we now have an additional 6-8" today. Maybe we can transfer the GTI seats to the Bolt....hmmmm.....

Thinking maybe a beefier rear sway bar too....have to talk to a good suspension shop.
 

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I was driving around my mom's POS 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer today. Thing has 105k miles and is literally falling apart. The seats, however, were fine to me. I drive a 2012 and 2017 Volt, so not driving trash around.

There is no way the Bolt's seats are worse than the POS Mitsubishi, so I think the seat issue will be a nonissue for me. :)
 

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The trunk: Josh Tavel was right to be pissed at whatever clueless morons represent his superiors, who insisted on a round spare tire well, a huge wasted space around it under the car as shown in photos on this site and others.
I have a pet theory that the spare tire well was intended to be used for, well, a spare tire. I can't see any other reason for that shape of cavity in the bottom of the cargo area. But I'm thinking that perhaps crash tests with a spare tire in place down there came out poorly or damaged the rear portion of the battery pack and compromised its integrity, and so they decided to basically disown the space.

But if it is large enough to fit a spare tire I think that's probably what I'd use it for. I really want to carry a spare, and that would be the perfect place to store it without impinging on cargo space.
 

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I was driving around my mom's POS 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer today. Thing has 105k miles and is literally falling apart. The seats, however, were fine to me. I drive a 2012 and 2017 Volt, so not driving trash around.

There is no way the Bolt's seats are worse than the POS Mitsubishi, so I think the seat issue will be a nonissue for me. :)
I hope you're right. I would score them below the typical Economy rental car of the last 10-15 years. They're bad.
 

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Anyone who`s really bothered by how the seats feel should go out and get one of those ergo car seat things you can layer on. And if the ergo layer looks too obvious you can always get a seat cover to give it an OEM look.

That's just the way I would go about this.
 

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Anyone who`s really bothered by how the seats feel should go out and get one of those ergo car seat things you can layer on. And if the ergo layer looks too obvious you can always get a seat cover to give it an OEM look.

That's just the way I would go about this.
Sorry, buying a $40k car that the seats are so bad in brand new that I need to buy a butt pad for it isn't on my radar. I guarantee it won't be long until either 1) Chevy rolls out an optional seat or 2) someone comes up with a seat base to adapt a proper seat (ie Recaro, etc) to the car.

Either way, this isn't the last you've heard of it. If many of the early adopters aren't thrilled about the seats, imagine how people who are just considering their first EV will feel about them? It's isn't just a few people. And I doubt people are going to buy add on butt cushions in order for the "privilege" of driving the car.

Here's an i3 interior...as you can see, similar seat thickness but all-day comfortable:

 

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Discussion Starter #20
BMW, Mercedes, Audi have definitely figured out that you can make the seats thinner if the padding is appropriately more dense in key areas. GM, not so much. I'll post my seat modifications as soon as I can. F, I'd love a set of Recaros, but probably not in the works until my AWD BOLT SS. If I just keep repeating that, they will build one, I can feel it! : )
 
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