The 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.
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.
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.
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.
The ride quality of the 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.
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.
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.
However personally this product isn't living 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.
The Beat and the Cruze are suitable examples, and many new design elements have been tried on them. Be it the C-Pillar mounted door release or the motorcycle-inspired instrument cluster, they had stark difference in individuality compared to rival models and their design struck you in first sight. The Beat was the first car in its segment to feature auto climate control, and later held the same distinction with a diesel engine. The Cruze, with a punchy engine, rousing exterior, and a sportscar-like cockpit, quickly went on to become the best selling diesel car.
Unfortunately the Chevrolet Sail U-VA does not bring anything new to its segment. Its a 'me-too product' and that's not to say it fares badly.
Will I recommend it? Certainly, if you are looking for space, fuel economy and rear seat comfort. For me, I'll wait for the Chevrolet Sonic before replacing my Maruti Swift!