General Motors India doesn’t have a proper offering in the premium hatchback segment, and that’s where both the numbers and the money lies. The Aveo U-VA has been around for really long time and sans diesel engine, the numbers are even lower then entry-level premium cars. Expect for the Beat, Cruze and Tavera, the story was similar across the range for GM India.
GM has realized the issue and has been on overdrive mode for the entire 2012 to launch new vehicles and phase out dated models. As expected, the first launch is the Sail U-VA hatchback– in the segment that has seen the most growth in the recent times. The new model will replace the aging Aveo U-VA hatchback and more importantly get a reliable and efficient diesel engine, which has become an elementary requirement for success in the high volume segments.
The Sail was the highest selling model in China in July. It is a big deal! considering the number of vehicles on offer there by global players and some more by their Chinese counterparts. With their Chinese partner, SAIC, General Motors also exported 40,000 units of the car in single month; least confirming that they have sound product on offer. It is now being tweaked for Indian conditions – or in Chevrolet’s words ‘integrated’. As in, just having a diesel engine wasn’t enough – it is integrated into the car so that it meets Indian conditions. It has the suspension to cope with bad roads and high speed, but it is integrated so that it suits Indian conditions perfectly.
The Sail U-VA has got the typical Chevy face. The split grille, new headlamp design and chrome finish to the grille with golden Chevrolet bowtie in the center gels in instantly with the entire GM range in India. The car has a prominent shoulder line and flared wheel arches that are distinctly visible from the side, while the rear looks interesting with basic design similar to that of the Fiat Punto but with lots of creases and individual design elements.
The Sail U-VA is the biggest diesel car in its segment. It can comfortably seat two six-footers and is also wide enough to seat three normal sized people in the rear seat. The interiors are all-beige – as in, including the top of the dash board, on all the variants. It makes the car look even roomier, but it is certain to be a bit of an obstruction in driving. The plastic and upholstery quality is not the best in segment, nor is it ergonomically designed with centralized power window switches behind gear lever and horn that works only if press is applied to the steering wheel.
GM calls their new diesel engine ‘Smartech’ SDE (Small Diesel Engine), which is essentially the 1.3-litre Fiat Multiijet, which powers almost a dozen cars in India, including its direct competitors.The power ratings are marginally different compared to those of the Swift and the Vista at 78bhp and 205Nm of torque. The company claims respectable ARAI fuel efficiency of 22.1kpl. The petrol engine is the same from the Beat called, the S-Tec, it is tuned to produce 86bhp and 113Nm, withARAI fuel efficiency of18.2kpl.
The Sail U-VA is set up for ride comfort over handling, still can cruise comfortably at triple-digit speeds. The first ride report confirms that it is one of the best ride/handling compromises we've come across in the segment.
The Chevrolet Sail competes directly with the Suzuki Swift, Volkswagen Polo, Renault Pulse and Honda Jazz. However, we are expecting GM to price it a marginally lower (with all the cost cutting) than the competitors. The petrol base variant is expected to cost somewhere around Rs 4.5 lakh, while the diesel top-end should cost about Rs 6.8 lakh.