A 90km media drive program of the Chevrolet Sail held from GM's Talegaon plant to hill station Lonavala gave us a fair understanding of what the Aveo U-VA replacement was capable of.
The Aveo U-VA's failure is attributed to one main reason - the lack of a diesel engine in a diesel-driven market. GM India had invested in the Aveo platform through the launch of special edition and CNG variants, but revival efforts went fruitless and the Aveo never made a comeback.
GM India is hoping to blossom in the growing B+ segment with a diesel hatchback, that was designed in China, and thoroughly re-engineered to meet tough Indian expectations. The segment the Sail U-VA is positioned in, is a fast growing one, and GM can avail over 5,000 units from it if they get it right.
Before we dive into our impressions, we'll answer the five most frequently asked questions about the Sail.
What is the Sail U-VA?
GM's new baby, the Chevrolet Sail U-VA (from here on Sail), is based on a new platform (with small carryovers from the Corsa B platform) and was designed and developed in China's PATAC (Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center) by SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corporation) and General Motors. The Sail was launched in China weeks after production began in January 2010.
How is its sales performance?
Very well actually. The Sail brand is China's second best selling vehicle, and it enjoyed briefly the most-coveted title of China's best selling car in the month of June 2012.
It also enjoys the status of China's most exported vehicle. Its the best selling car in Chile and Ecuador with 20% and 30% market share in its segment respectively which tells you something about its acceptance globally.
Its Chinese, so is it safe?
The Chevrolet Sail may not beat a Volvo V40 or a Mercedes S Class, but its come home with some excellent results in the Chinese crash tests. In the CNCAP tests, the Sail scored 4/5 stars. One of the safety-enhancing features is the centrally mounted fuel tank, placed under the driver seat, surrounded by a rectangular frame to dissipate crash forces.
The Sail is fitted with safety gadgets such as ABS+EBD and front dual airbags beside features that are standard on modern cars such as three-point seatbelt with pre-tensioner and a collapsible steering column.
What are the best features on this car?
The Sail is not the most feature-rich car in its segment. Scanning through the features takes no time. The exterior is embellished with 14-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, large quarter glass panels and a Christmas tree stop light cluster arrangement. The interior is equipped with features such as an audio player with Bluetooth streaming, power windows, manual HVAC, digital tachometer and electrically-adjustable ORVM.