As if the Volt’s ground clearance wasn’t low enough

Breakthrough vehicle it might well be. But I can’t help wondering if it was really necessary to run a strip of protective plastic beneath the nose of the Chevrolet Volt that effectively leaves the car with a 3½-inch ground clearance.

Three and a half inches.

How many inclining driveways and parking spaces are there in America that will bid farewell to the Volt with a scraping sound like ripping sheet metal every time the car backs out?

Three and a half inches of front-end clearance, as I measured it, crawling around on the floor of my garage with a tape measure.

OK, the entire vehicle is built low to the ground. Which is fine. It adds to the futuristic raciness of the plug-in hybrid. And it’s easy to see that the car’s underbody has components that are only a few inches higher than the protective front-end piece.

But still -- a “few inches higher” they are.

The devil is always in the details. Presumably, the strip is needed or it wouldn’t be there. But what does it say about the Volt’s overall design? That it was engineered so low to the ground that an otherwise superfluous protective device had to be stuck beneath the front bumper to emit a loud scraping alert any time something four inches tall comes long?

I can’t help thinking the Volt would be more pleasant to drive -- not to mention $5 cheaper -- if that part would simply disappear.

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