Over the weekend, had a chance to see and drive a Bolt in person. Stepping back a bit, I am a Model 3 reservation holder that is on the fence between waiting for the "3" and jumping into an S before then. Anyhow, back to the story... First I call the large Chevrolet dealer in my area and I say do you have any Bolts? They ask if I am talking about the Volt or Bolt. I say "Bolt with a B". They say "We call that Bolt EV to make the distinction clear". IMO, a bad choice to have called two completely different cars almost the same name. In any event, if you need to check Bolt availability, do yourself a favor and say "Do you have any Bolt EVs in stock?" After I cleared up that I was looking to see and drive a Bolt EV, the woman on the phone informed me they had one to test drive but none to purchase at this point. With that, I headed to a Chevrolet dealer lot for the first time in my life. I must say that the dealer experience was VERY different than dealing with a Tesla store. It was packed with people. Not just customers but many, many salespeople and managers and such. Dozens. They were all wondering here and there and it just seems chaotic. Nobody helped me for a good 15 minutes (even though I wanted them to!). They had a waiting list to get test drives. I waited about 20 minutes for the car to come back and for it to be ready to check out. Here are my initial impressions: Exterior Small but sits a bit higher than the average small car (I guess they consider it a cross-over). Plain-jain looks in my opinion. Maybe that's a good thing for some people if you don't want to stand out in say the way that a Prius (especially the newest Prius) stands out. There is another (ICE) Chevy called a Spark and the Spark and the Bolt have a similar look. The Bolt I saw was painted the flaming orange/amber color. Interior The test drive Bolt was the "Premier" (as opposed to the base "LT") and as such had leather seats. And probably a few other things I didn't remember. Mainly it is the leather seats though. Interestingly although the seats are leather, they are manual - you pull the lever under the front of the seat to unlock the seat and slide it back and forth. Want to sit higher up? You pump a ratcheting lever on the left side of the seat and it cranks up the seat. So basically it works more like like an adjustable office chair. The salesperson said it was designed like that to "maximize range" by not needing to deplete the main battery to operate the seat motors. I'd assume the seats and interior would operate off of a 12V conventional battery rather than the main lithium ion pack? Seats themselves were OK. Nothing to write home about in terms of comfort but nothing negative either. Didn't sit in the back seat but saw the previous test drivers unload a car seat (they brought their baby on the test drive) and it appeared they maneuvered pretty easily so I think the back seat is OK size (but again I didn't really spend time checking out that aspect). "Trunk" space behind the back seat was quite small. Maybe two feet (ish) from hatch entry to the seat back. And quite shallow although there was a removable floor panel that at least made it capable of accepting something a little deeper. Where you would store that panel if you removed it to put said deeper something in your cargo area...I have no idea. The seats fold down. But basically you could either take a few medium suitcases OR two backseat passengers. But not both at the same time. Touch Screen Certainly not a competition for a Model S, but the Bolt had a similar setup in that there was a main larger (10" or so) touchscreen and you could also customize the display in the binnacle screen where most cars have their speedometer and fuel gauges. Was impressed enough with the customization and options. Again, not on par with the Model S and it's 17" screen, more apps and being able to run two apps split screen...but pretty good for what they could do on a 10" screen and a binnacle screen. "Transmission" controls Did not like the "shifter control. Although it looked and acted very much like a traditional transmission shifter, it seemed extremely anachronistic to me compared to the Model S. Stubby little shifter between the two front seats and you have Reverse, Drive and Low in addition to Park. I think for one of the operations (Reverse? "Neutral"?), you have to press the knob to the left and then move it up the left corner or something like that. Convoluted. Anyhow "Low" is the full regenerative setting. Driving it Certainly no Tesla, but the Bolt was still pretty fun to drive! The acceleration was better than many small ICE cars out there. Again, it's not Tesla quick but for the average person, I think they would be pleasantly surprised. Ride and noise quality was good, though the streets they instructed me to drive on were well maintained and devoid of potholes so it was hard to tell. First half of the test drive I was in "D" (conventional car simulation mode, basically. Similar to Tesla with "Creep" turned on and regen set to Normal). Second half was done in "L" (high regen mode. Similar to Tesla with "Creep" turned off and regen set to High). Regen effect was even stronger than Tesla. It could (at relative slow city traffic speeds) pretty much come to a complete stop using nothing but the regen. People talk about being able to do "one pedal" driving with a Tesla, but the Bolt actually does one petal driving even better. Other Takeaways If you order a Bolt, you can chose your trim level, maybe an option or two and your color. But even with reduced options compared to a Tesla, Chevy does not "build to order" your car, apparently. In other words if you order an "odd" combination, you may wait many months for the car whereas if you order a "popular" combination, you might get your car very much sooner. Having come from BMW (multiple cars, all custom specified) and having worked with Tesla where you are in a certain queue and have an estimated delivery date and can see the status of your car... I had forgotten that other brands don't necessarily do "build to order". With Chevy you can specify what you want but the dealer gets regular refreshed stock of Bolt EVs and there is no particular timeframe they can guarantee when the combination you ordered will come in (apparently). So the factory just makes what they make and sends them to dealers and eventually they will make all combinations and eventually your odd combination will get built and the dealer will match it to you after it arrives? So if 200 people order after you but they order the popular combination of options and colors, Chevy will just see a total number of orders (200) for say a blue Premier with X options and they see your single (1) car with some unpopular color and base trim...potentially all 200 of the people who ordered after you might get their cars before you get yours? It seems odd but that's what the salesman said (but admittedly I don't know if it's true). Bolt EV vs Model 3 In a world where the Model 3 wasn't on the horizon, I'd say the Bolt EV would be a very compelling car for anyone looking for a longish range EV that couldn't afford a Tesla and/or wanted/needed a much smaller car. But we know that the Model 3 is on the horizon and it's going to be much more car at a similar price. I'm assuming base models here in both cases. We know that Model 3 (even base) will have access to the Supercharger network which is huge for anyone who does long road trips. And it will have the hardware for Autopilot and even full autonomy (though those will certainly be options that will cost more to activate). Still, having the hardware for AP and full autonomy and potentially other software unlockable options (faster charging, more battery capacity, etc) means that base Model 3 users will still get more "car" even if they don't/can't afford to unlock those options at time of purchase. Software unlockable features is a game changer as you can buy the car 'base' and enhance it (to some degree) over time as your budget and/or needs allow. That said, the Bolt EV is a nice effort by Chevy and hopefully they will sell well and also hopefully they will make them available to the rest of the country in the near future to prove it is not nearly a compliance vehicle.