"You know you have woken the EV1 up because the digital instrument display in the centre of the dashboard, plus rows of warning lights on either side, light up impressively for a moment, then turn off," we wrote. "But there is a disconcerting lack of noise. In fact, blipping the accelerator produces no effect at all; silence reigns.
"Time to move that shift lever from Park to Drive and try that pedal again. Gingerly, the EV1 moves off, accompanied by only a muffled whine under the bonnet. Confidence rising, you floor it and the result is a surprise. The EV1 bounds forward at a rate of knots. Fast enough that you quite believe GM's claimed 0-60mph time of less than 9.0sec."
Top speed was a regulated 80mph – although a special version had set an EV record of 183.8mph in 1994.
"The EV1's front disc/rear drum brakes work just fine," we added, "and you have the curiously satisfying sensation of knowing that the braking action is actually recharging the batteries, because the motor is being temporarily used as a generator."
As for ride and handling, "you quickly realise that this is no sports car". We continued: "The skinny tyres, pumped up to 50psi, are designed for ultra-low rolling resistance, so understeer is the name of the game. Sharp turns make the 1747kg EV1 heel over clumsily, with the front corners of the composite-skinned body coming perilously close to the Tarmac. The electrically assisted steering has an impressively tight turning circle but loses feel when you put on some lock.
"As compensation for its roly-poly handling, the EV1 delivers a smooth ride. Wind noise is virtually absent, which is not surprising considering the exceptionally aerodynamic (0.19Cd) body. Road racket is also well muted, except when badly rutted roads upset the suspension."
GM's years of testing the EV1 had revealed it to have a realistic driving range of about 70 miles if you drove it near its top speed or up to 90 miles if you averaged around 45mph.