CHEVROLET SAIL – MADE FOR INDIA

After being founded on November 3, 1911, by Swiss race car driver and automotive engineer Louis Chevrolet alongside William C. Durant and investment partners William Little and Dr. Edwin R. Campbell, Chevrolet came to India in 1928. However, in 1952-53 the Indian Government forced General Motors India to shut shop along with other foreign car companies. In 2003, Chevrolet Sales India Private Limited was established and the Chevrolet brand was re-launched in India. It replaced Opel as the only brand offering by General Motors India Private Limited. Ever since its re-launch in India, though the Chevrolet brand carried a legacy of its own, there was no particular ground-breaking launch that could grant it a strong foothold in the Indian car market. All this changed when two very special and out-of-the-ordinary launches were made underscoring their aggressive approach to capture the market’s attention. Though the Beat and Cruze have been well received by auto enthusiasts, Chevrolet still lacks a hot seller that is tailor made for the thinking, evolving, and maturing average Indian. It is about time that the world’s second largest car maker made its presence felt in one of the most sought after car markets. Can the Sail sedan prove to be the wonder car Chevrolet have been searching for all along, can it weather the storms of uncertainty the Indian conditions have to offer, can it manage to stay afloat amongst stiff competition. Let us find out.

DESIGN/LOOKS:

When the Sail U-VA premiered a few months ago, all the expectations that ran sky high following two very interesting launches in the shape of Beat and Cruze came crashing down. The U-VA, though proved to be a no-nonsense car, didn’t quite manage to weave its magic because of its bland and ordinary styling/design. When it comes to the Sail sedan though, everything seems simple yet perfect, subtle yet practical, and sublime yet provoking. One look at the Sail and you get a premium feel, an executive touch, and a classy finish. The U-VA, to be frank, looked incomplete. It never really looked complete, especially the rear. Now we know that the actual product was in the making and what we got in the process of the U-VA was just a teaser. Be it the “Hawk-Wing” style headlamps, the V-shaped dual port front grille, Shooting Star Style fog lamps, or the classy tail lamp cluster, the Dynamic Sculpture design concept is written all over it. The dual tone coffee beige interiors add a serene touch. The V-style sporty steering wheel, Corvette inspired Dual-Cockpit design, the Rising Sun instrument cluster with a digital tachometer and odometer, chrome inside door handles are not something very radical or loud like what we saw in the Beat, but they do perfectly complement the elegance carried in from outside. The hallmark of a good design concept is how everything comes together in pure harmony with nothing looking or feeling odd or out of place. This design looks like a winner from the word go.

COMFORT:

Driver comfort is crucial for a sedan and the Sail promises smooth sailing therefore validating its name. The seating position for the driver is just about perfect though it does lack seat height adjustment. The AC is good. I wouldn’t say it is very powerful, but adequate to keep the heat at bay even on a hot summer day. What is missed however is automatic climate control, which is available in the Beat. That would have been a welcome addition in an already well-rounded package. There are a host of other features though like keyless entry, speed sensitive auto door locks, rear seat armrest with cup holders, integrated audio system with four speakers, aux input, USB socket, Bluetooth connectivity, mobile music streaming, and ability to pair up to five phones, etc. We have 370 liters of boot space available, which I guess is more than adequate. While some may find the power windows buttons placed in front of the gear knob a little awkward, I think placing them on the armrests on the doors would not have allowed us to freely rest/relax our arms. A more ideal place would have been the front portion of the door arm rests right underneath the fingertips.

RIDE QUALITY/HANDLING:

Well this is the most important section, how this diesel performs against its rivals like the Swift Desire, Tata Manza, etc. Though this is the same Fiat 1.3 liter multijet engine, it was co developed by Chevrolet with some smart ECU tuning and well chosen gear ratios. As a result, the ride quality is unbelievably smooth, undeniably comfortable, and unarguably effortless in that it is so well thought out and so carefully crafted with the Indian road conditions in mind. The 1248 cc powertrain delivers a max power of 78 PS at 4000 rpm and max torque of 205 Nm @ 1750 rpm. There is some lag initially given the fact that it is a diesel car, but as you move up the gear shifts, you will be in for a surprise. The response is so brisk and swift. This is perfectly aided by the well balanced power steering, the monocoque chassis, and the 175/70 R14 tyres. The gearbox is slightly notchy, but not bothersome enough. The suspension is a major plus. The passive twin-tube gas filled shock absorber setup provides ample cushioning even on some of the unforgiving Indian roads. The brakes are confidence inspiring and perfectly fit the bill for a car in the segment it finds itself in. Overall, the greatest USP (unique selling proposition) of this car is the ride quality it offers. It perfectly complements and justifies its name – Sail – as the drive gives you the feeling as though one is simply sailing along.

FUEL EFFICIENCY:

No matter what features are on offer or what power the car promises to deliver, mileage is always right on top of the list as far as an Indian car buyer is concerned, especially given the prevalent insane fuel prices. The Sail diesel promises to deliver 22.1 kmpl. Always remember that in order to extract maximum mileage from your car, you need to drive in the top gear at speeds of around 50-60 kmph and also avoid frequent clutching and braking. With the AC on, the above figures may go down further

AFTER SALES SERVICE/MAINTENANCE:

Here we present the one-of-a-kind Chevrolet’s 3-5-3 advantage. What this basically means and what the fine print reads is the 3 year Chevrolet promise applies to the maintenance and repairs carried at the authorized service stations for a period of 3 years/45000 km. The 5 years warranty on engine and transmission is actually 5 years/1,50,000 km (whichever is earlier). The 3 years vehicle warranty is again 3 years/100,000 km (whichever is earlier). My personal tip as a car owner to extract best service from any service station is to know your car well. You should be able to identify immediately after the service whether the car’s condition is how it ought to be or whether something has gone wrong. This helps you keep the service providers in check and also ensures longer running life of your vehicle.

SAFETY:

"The Safe-Cage Design assures safety of the cabin occupants even on high speed impacts. The High Strength Steel body structure with a Cross Structure Design and centrally mounted fuel tank resists contact with the fuel tank when impacted from the side. The Sail comes equipped with two airbags and ensures safety of the front seat occupants in case of a head-on impact. Then, of course, what has become standard across all segments nowadays is ABS and EBD. The Anti Lock Braking system and Electronic Brake-force Distribution prevent wheel locking when braking on watery/skiddy surfaces. However, I personally feel ESP (Electronic Stability Program) system is far more effective and has proven to be far more useful in preventing major accidents. While luxury brands like BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Volvo, etc., do come equipped with ESP, I strongly feel the need for this feature is more in the hatchback segment, as the main aim of this feature is to make sure the vehicle does not topple over while avoiding head-on collisions, etc.

VALUE FOR MONEY:

The Chevy Sail is a superb value for money proposition with the LS ABS model being available for under 7 lakhs ex-showroom here in Hyderabad. You get superior and almost the best ride quality, classy executive styling, somewhat bland but good enough interiors, 3-5-3 maintenance package, good boot space, important safety features, and the list goes on. All in all, this is a well rounded package that comes at an affordable price and makes you feel quite nice.
While the Sail U-VA failed to weave its magic, the Sail sedan on the other hand feels just about perfect at what it is offering. Firstly, it feels neat and complete when compared to the U-VA. Secondly, it offers us just about all the basic features one would look for. Thirdly, it is priced to precision. This is the mantra that has worked wonders for market leaders like Maruti. An Indian mindset always wants more value for money, more bang for the buck, and more features at a lesser price. Manufacturers who have understood this first are indeed in the leading position currently. However, with the Sail sedan I guess Chevrolet have managed to understand this mantra because it clearly shows in the package that is being made available - a car designed and destined for India, a car conceptualized and engineered for India, a car visualized and Made for India. The Chevrolet Sail holds true to the fact that sometimes the best the world has to offer comes in the simplest of forms.

DISCLAIMER:

Each one’s lifestyle is different from the other and ultimately a car needs to cater to one’s needs. It needs to blend into our daily routine. It is totally a personal choice and do think about each and every aspect of your life before zeroing in on a particular model. Please wear your seatbelts, do not take your eyes off the road, do not use your cell phones while driving, and set the headlamps on low beam while driving within city limits. Drive responsibly, stay responsive. God bless and take care.