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Booted, and suited for India

Sailing Sedan version of GM’s new Sail car is a pleasant drive. Now, if only they could do something about the interiors. Sumant Banerji reports.

India has for long been waiting for a blockbuster from General Motors, one of the largest car makers in the world. The last time it achieved success in any segment was in 2008, with the Cruze. But that was not a mass market car.

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Its next big hope was the Beat, but that has been beset by problems. Last year, GM pinned its hopes on the Sail hatchback, a platform borrowed from its Chinese joint venture. But it was pitted directly against the Swift, and critics felt GM had got the pricing wrong yet again. Now, the Sail sedan has been released. Has GM learnt its lessons and got the details right this time?.

Any different from the hatch?

Essentially, the sedan remains a compact car with a boot tacked on. So the front looks just like the Sail hatchback. The visage is strong and muscular with the large headlamps, and because it is not a sub 4-metre vehicle, it looks wholesome and proportionate.

It does suffer from "looks too much like the small car" syndrome, but that is common in the segment --- the Etios, Dzire and the upcoming Honda Amaze all have similar issues. Even then, GM could have done a bit to make it stand out. While not exactly ugly, the Sail does not merit a second glance — and we did not get one, either, driving it.

Bland interiors
Think Chinese and you would imagine that finesse and attention to detail would be missing. You would be right. Also absent is flair. The interiors of the car disappoint, period. We harped on this aspect when we reviewed the hatch, and nothing has changed. In fact things are so unimaginative that you may as well look outside the window for excitement.

There are some ergonomic improvements though. The headlamp and wiper controls are Japanese-fashion, not the US model --- that is, wiper controls on the left, headlamp on the right. The high point of the car is the generous leg room on offer at the rear; three adults would not be cramped. Boot space is also decent at 370 litres. If only GM had shoe-horned the interiors of the now defunct Aveo sedan into this one, a major grouse would have been avoided.
Performance, ride, handling

We had some expectations of the Sail compact car last year, but had to come away disappointed. Given that it was the same car, we expected nothing of the Sail sedan. And have come back pleasantly surprised. A lot of it has to do with the pricing, where for once, GM is spot on.
It sits just a shade above segment topper Dzire, and costs substantially less than the Toyota Etios. Remember, this is not a sub 4-metre car, so to offer such a package at this price is good value for money. There are blemishes that GM would do well to rectify. What can put a spanner in the works is the Honda Amaze, slated to arrive within two months, and GM needs to be ready for that.

Overall, we can safely say that if you are in the market for a spacious, no-frills sedan, here is a Chevy you can consider.

  • First Published Date : 07 Feb 2013, 09:58 PM IST