The Optra was one of the first Chevrolet models introduced in the country and is now avail able for cheap. Definitely worth considering
General Motors launched the Optra in 2003 to compete against cars like the Corolla and Octavia. The car replaced the Opel Astra which the company offered when the Opel brand was still on sale.
When launched, the car had a three-part Daewoo grille, which Chevrolet updated with a single piece grille and a central bow tie logo. The latest upgrade had the headlamps changed to the ones on the SRV.
The Optra has been available in many different trim levels and three engine options. The 1.8 petrol may be high on performance but is a heavy drinker and will take a toll on the pocket. The 1.6 petrol is a safer bet. It gets the same spacious and comfortable cabin with plush interiors. Also the high-end variants get the same equipments as the 1.8
The car was initially launched with a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine, supplied by Holden. The engine produced 115bhp, and made the car a capable performer both on the highway and the city.
The engine was mated to a five-speed manual and a fourspeed automatic gearbox. With the manual the car returned close to 8kmpl in the city and 13 kmpl on the highway. With the auto the efficiency dropped to around 7kmpl in the city and 10kmpl on the highway.
Later, it was also offered with a Daewoo 1.6-litre petrol which produced 105bhp. Although a little down on performance compared to the larger motor, he engine gave a better fuel efficiency of around 10kmpl and 15kmpl in the city and on the highway respectively.
The 2-litre, 120bhp diesel was introduced in middle of 2007 and is one of the best engines options available on the car. The diesel spec Optra is relatively new however and not readily available in the used car market.
The car has been offered in many special variants like the NY, which came with a fair amount of kit and a pricetag that undercutmost rivals’ pricing.
The Optra’s ride quality is a little stiff at low speeds. But the ride quality improves as the car picks up speed. It is an able handler around corners and feels planted and stable at high speeds. The steering though is numb with no feedback to offer.
On the inside, the car boasts a large and well built cabin. Passenger space at the rear is one of the best in class and the rear seats are very comfortable. A boot capacity of 400 plus litres helps improve the practicality quotient and there are a lot of cubby holes in the cabin that can be used to hold knick knacks one may want to carry.
The second generation Honda City is a size down on the Optra, though it costs almost as much in the used car market. If you don’t mind the comparatively cramped interiors, it is a good alternative. The 1.5-litre iDSi power plant is known for its fuel efficiency and the frugal motor will stretch a litre of the expensive stuff much farther than the Optra. The City’s overall finish is not in the same league as the Chevrolet, but it is well built nevertheless. Honda’s sales and service network is as widespread and spares are relatively cheaper too.
The Optra is a large sedan with a well built and spacious cabin. It comes with a rather fuel efficient petrol engine with more than enough grunt for the city. Chevrolet has made a name for itself as a maker of value for money cars. The Optra is no different. The service is a tad more expensive than say Honda, but then the Optra is not known to give trouble and is not really expensive to buy second hand either. The diesel is a good performer, but is not so readily available in the used car market.