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Is the new Chevrolet Sail U-VA a good car?

Last updated on: October 15, 2012 08:30 IST

Is the new Chevrolet Sail U-VA a good car?

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Shrawan Raja


T
he Chevrolet Sail U-VA settles into a quiet idle. The clutch tension feels just about right and gear throws are bewilderingly short and easy to execute!

The ratios of this five-speed gearbox have been extended in the interest of fuel economy and the long first gear is usable at slightly higher speeds than crawling.

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Is the new Chevrolet Sail U-VA a good car?

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The vehicle is powered by a locally-manufactured, Fiat-based 1.3L diesel engine that puts out 78PS@4,000 RPM and 205 Nm@1,750 RPM.

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GM engineers have done a very good job in containing the NVH levels. Remember, this car was not designed with a diesel engine.

Over 94 test mules were built and driven for 1 million kilometers between the temperature range of -20 degree to 50 degree centigrade to fine-tune the settings.

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The fixed geometry turbo leads to a noticeable amount of turbo lag, but keep the engine on boil over 1,800 RPM and you have the necessary torque to overtake until you reach 3,500 RPM.

The brakes inspire confidence during highway driving, and they are able to stop the car fairly quickly even with four well-built passengers on board.

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The ride quality of Sail is another facet in its engineering package.

The car feels unsettled over rough roads, but it does a commendable job of not transferring noise or vibration into the cell.

The suspension has been stiffened to contain body roll, but this is not a driver's car by any means.

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We pushed the car all the way to 140kph, and the Sail keeps wind and road noise in check up to 110kph.

The Sail's best feature isn't on the car. The free three-year service and maintenance pack is the knock-out punch GM India will deliver with the launch.

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The Sail's been tuned to provide the best real-world fuel economy and the ride is well sorted for broken roads.

We're told by our sources that GM is planning a very attacking price strategy, and the conservative exterior styling, coupled with a spacious cabin are features Indian customers prefer.

Three year free service and maintenance plan is a supreme feature considering ownership lifetime is shrinking in India.

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However personally this product hasn't lived up to my expectations.

I love the 300 Series cars, the Cruze and the Beat have shown what new GM is all about. GM lays heavy emphasis on design.

When we met GM's chief designer Ed Welburn a couple of years back, he said design is perhaps the most important feature on a Chevrolet as that's what draws the onlooker into the product, eventually turning him into a customer for life.

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Step into the Chevrolet Sail U-VA and you immediately feel..well..not very interested.

The Sail's interiors are jaded, the colour combination of dark brown and beige leaves it with a very outdated look and feel.

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The Sail's cabin is vast (we'll come to that in a bit), and it certainly does not need the illusion of using a lighter colour to make it feel airy, but unless the cabin is appointed with leather, the dark beige-brown combination does not feel delightful or fresh.

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Image: Chevrolet Sail U-VA power window switches.


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One thing that you notice once you settle down the large amount of glass area.

The Sail U-VA has very useful quarter glass panels that are designed to help the driver and not the looks of the car!

The driver seat offers supreme lumbar and shoulder padding, but cannot be adjusted for elevation.

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Image: Chevrolet Sail U-VA gear lever.

Tags: Sail U-VA

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The steering wheel will look better if GM can place an 3D emblem of the bow-tie and garnish it with chrome.

It can be adjusted for rake, but its reach is fixed.

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There is no steering mounted audio controls, but the stereo can play tracks off a CD or USB port.

The display on the stereo shows the time when the stereo unit is not in use.

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The air-conditioner is a manual unit with ergonomic controls.

Power window switches for all doors are placed in front of the gear lever, and we had no trouble getting used to the relocation.

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GM has interchanged the indicator stalk to the right, so that the Indian driver can feel at home.

The gear lever has a chunky top, that feels great to grip.

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There are lots of cubby holes to store toll tickets and spare change. There is a dedicated slip holder on the dash near the driver door.

There are pockets between the front seats and the dash is large enough to hold a couple of notebooks.

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The rear seat is the Sail's forte. Thanks to squared-off roofline, the rear seat experience is excellent.

There is plenty of head and shoulder room for three passengers. The long wheelbase (2,465mm) provides unmatched rear legroom.

A 3D Chevy bowtie and black border around the horn buttons could add life to the otherwise boring steering wheel.

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The rest of the cabin is a mix of dark beige and brown, with dull gray accents on the center stalk and doors, and a sprinkling of chrome on the door and hand brake release handles.

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GM has to rethink colour combinations, add a bit more chrome and develop new parts such as auto climate control, steering-mounted controls with Bluetooth pairing and streaming, and a more upmarket sound system.

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The Sail's interior score is bang in between the function-only Toyota Liva and the neatly-stacked Maruti Swift.

What I loved about the interior of the Chevrolet Sail U-VA:

Space - There's so much of it! The rear seat is the best place to be on this car.

Visibility - First time car buyers should have no trouble driving this through traffic or around bends.

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What I didn't like about the interior:

The curvature of the center console on the driver side obstructs the knee movement when operating the clutch.

This problem is observed on the Spark, and future generation Sail vehicles need to have their dashboards pushed in further. Shorter drivers however will not find this a problem.

The pull-up type door lock does not belong in 2012.

The pitch of the horn could have been lower.

The horn is excited momentarily when the unlock button on the key is operated. This is an easy way to identify the car in a parking lot, but not giving it an independent voice isn't a nice touch.

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