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First drive: Coda all-electric car

Consumer Reports News: November 18, 2011 11:23 AM

The Coda electric car is now on track to reach customers in January 2012, and we got a chance for a brief stint behind the wheel of a pre-production model in downtown Los Angeles this week.

The Coda is quick with instant torque and linear, smooth acceleration. Its electric motor produces the equivalent of 134 hp and feels rather energetic. Ride and handling didn’t seem particularly memorable on this limited drive, which can be interpreted as a good thing. Suspension noise and some squeaks and rattles were noticeable, however. Coda execs say that these issues will be addressed with regular production models. Modulating the brake pedal proved tricky and even disconcerting at times—another item the company promises will be fixed.

The cabin is rather basic and mostly furnished with hard plastic, but a semi-soft door trim and some nice stitchwork showed an attempt to instill a semblance of interior quality. The gauges and controls are mostly conventional. Oddly, there was no prominent range display, which is pretty darn essential in an electric car. Coda says that they are adding such a display, as well as a battery state-of-charge gauge, on the central touch screen. Too bad the screen is low and requires glancing away from the road. Unlike other EV contenders, there is no automatic climate control, just a manual system. Due to the big 36 kWh lithium-ion-phosphate battery under the floor, rear-seat occupants will have to contend with a compromised posture with perches that lack thigh support.

Let’s hope the rough edges are smoothed out before customers take delivery.

Learn more about the Coda EV.

See the Coda at the 2011 LA Auto Show.


Gabe Shenhar

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