Jonathan Gitlin

DETROIT, MI—Chevrolet probably deserves more credit than it’s getting for the Bolt electric vehicle. CEO Mary Barra gave her engineers some targets that had to be met, a move that was reminiscent of the diktats given to Bugatti by Ferdinand Piech—except the goals were range and a price ceiling rather than four digits of horsepower and a lunatic top speed. The Bolt met Barra’s demands, and in the process Chevy built a fine car, one that’s actually fun to drive. During the lead-up to and first months since the car’s arrival, Chevy had been more interested in talking about the Bolt’s range or the efficiency of its electric motor. But that changed when we got word that it was planning a more performance-focused event: would we be interested in autocrossing the Bolt? (Obviously, we were.)

The setup

I’m a complete novice to autocrossing, so I won’t attempt to explain it in too much depth. A course is laid out upon a suitably sized piece of tarmac: tight and demanding turns mapped out in little orange cones. Any straights are short enough to keep top speeds low, but the throttle is still pinned to the floor as often as possible. Your time starts when you pass the first timing light and finishes when you reach the second.

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