It wasn't the electric battery, onboard gas generator or "plug" of the Chevy Volt that surprised students in an autos class at Willowbrook High School when the electric vehicle showed up one day in late September.
In fact, it wasn't anything about the inner workings of the car.
It was the Volt's exterior that students found most remarkable.
"It looks a lot cooler than I thought it would," said Nicholas Sedlacek, a 17-year-old senior in his third autos class.
Nicholas and 17 other students in the second or third level of Chris Feid's automotive technology class got to tour, inspect and even drive a Volt when it stopped Sept. 28 at their high school in Villa Park.
Students had learned how the electric battery and gas generator power the car depending on the number of miles being driven at a time.
"We spent some of the past two days learning about the features and the technology behind it," Feid said.
But students said they weren't prepared to see the technology they learned about inside a creamy white Chevy Volt with "good styling" that didn't look anything like a Toyota Prius.
So Nicholas wasn't alone in his surprise about the Volt's vibe.
"I thought it'd look a little different instead of looking like a normal car," said Ben Rispens, an 18-year-old senior in his third autos class.
As students filled out a work sheet about the features of the car or waited their turn to drive it, they saw how the theory behind an electric car actually works to propel a vehicle.
"The biggest difference is how the gas motor doesn't actually drive the car, it just charges the battery. That's the coolest part about it," Nicholas said.
Some of the students in the class aim to become mechanics or work in the high-performance auto industry, so Feid said it's important for them to gain a basic understanding of electric vehicles.
"Just familiarizing themselves with the workings of a hybrid or an electric vehicle," was the objective of the electric car technology lessons and the hands-on experience with the Volt, Feid said.
The Volt was in the Western suburbs for a week, on loan to Dana Moreau of Lombard, who is a producer of a documentary about electric vehicles called "Revenge of the Electric Car" that will premiere in the area Friday, Nov. 4.
Moreau said she was glad to experience how an electric vehicle drives and to show it off to friends and Willowbrook students.
Students said they enjoyed the chance to test drive a car with the cutting-edge electric technology they'd been learning about.
"I definitely like how we learned about it and we got to bring it in and drive it and everything," Nicholas said.