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Chevrolet Sail vs Mahindra Verito

19th Feb 2013 12:36 am

Can the new Sail saloon take the fight to the Verito in the entry-level saloon segment?

Overview

Chevrolet has recently forayed into the entry-level saloon segment with the launch of the new saloon version of the Sail hatch. Meanwhile, Mahindra has not been resting easy on laurels and launched a facelifted version of its well-received Verito. The fortunes of the new Chevy will depend on how it fares against the Verito. So which one gives you the best bang for your buck? Read on to find out.

Design and styling

The Sail saloon, with the front styling, looks near identical to the hatch version. However, it does have the proper saloon silhouette unlike the Maruti Dzire. The arced roof merges well with the neatly integrated boot. The large triangular tail-lamps give it a distinct identity. The Verito however, despite having received a facelift, still looks boxy. The new front and rear bumpers, multi-element headlamps, chrome grille and the redesigned tail-lights do give it a more upmarket appearance than before. 

Performance

The Verito employs a 65bhp, 1.5-litre diesel engine. There is no hesitation from the engine at low revs and driving it in traffic is very easy. But, once past 3500rpm, the power tapers off and it’s best to upshift to a higher gear. The clutch action is extremely light, but it doesn’t feel very easy to get right and takes getting used to. The engine is smooth and it’s only when you work it hard that it becomes a bit vocal. This is one of the most efficient engines around too. The 1.3-litre, four-cylinder Fiat-based diesel engine under the hood of the Sail makes 77bhp, which means power is more than adequate. You will find a slight lack of responsiveness below 1800rpm, but this improves as the engine starts spinning faster. Performance is strong till 4200rpm, after which the power tails off and it’s best to upshift. The gearbox is slick and the short-throw gearlever is a joy to use. The motor sounds quite gruff when worked hard though.   

Ride and handling

Keeping with the Verito’s practical characteristics, the suspension is now slightly raised and feels pliant; bump-absorption is good too. The low-speed ride is not as good as the Sail’s, but it feels much more reassuring as you go faster, and on the highway, it tends to bounce less than the Sail. Thanks to a communicative steering, the Verito is more confidence inspiring and fun around corners. The wide, 185/70 R14 tyres provide ample grip too. Absorbent low-speed ride is the Sail’s trump card. It takes the worst of our roads in its stride and the suspension works silently too. It absorbs bumps without transferring too much to the occupants. However, go faster and the car gets skittish and doesn’t feel as stable at speed as the Verito. Even when it comes to driving pleasure, the Sail simply doesn’t make the cut. The steering is too light and devoid of all feel and it runs out of grip earlier than the Verito.

Features & interiors

The Verito’s updated two-tone dash looks richer than before (remember the Logan?) and the ergonomics have been improved; the power window buttons have been moved from the centre console to the door pads. The old, single-DIN music system is now replaced by a larger two-DIN one. But the cabin still feels a bit low-rent and it still seems old next to the modern Chevrolet Sail. The grey dashboard looks dull and some bits like the panel above the glovebox should have been better. The Sail’s dashboard doesn’t look like anything out of the ordinary, although the protruding centre console is smart in its own right. Interior quality is not great, but is much better than the Verito’s. However, ergonomics in some areas are not the best and things like the power window switches, which are awkwardly positioned in front of the gear lever, and the small digital tachometer take time getting used to. The lift-type door locks are a bit old-school too.

The Verito’s trump cards still remain and there is loads of space up front and even six-foot-plus people will fit comfortably. The driver’s seat, however, doesn’t get seat height or steering adjustment, so you have to live with the high driving position. The rear bench is very comfortable and the low window line and large glass area gives it an airy feel. The Verito’s wide dimensions also mean sitting three abreast is not tough. You won’t complain about the large 510-litre boot either. While it may be somewhat lacking in terms of design, the Sail’s cabin scores quite highly for comfort. The front seats are well shaped, with good lower back support. The cabin is also wide enough to seat three and headroom is sufficient for most. Where it falls short is in terms of legroom, where the Verito is much better. The boot is pretty generous, but its opening is quite narrow and high, which means loading large items is a pain.

The Verito, in its top-end D6 trim, costs Rs 7.15 lakh. For this price, it is reasonably well equipped, with a driver airbag, ABS, alloy wheels, a trip computer, remote locking and USB connectivity. The audio system has Bluetooth connectivity as well, but it’s an add-on system unlike the Sail’s integrated unit. It misses out on features like climate control though, and there’s no aux-in port either, which is a bit of a disappointment.

Verdict

While the Sail offers decent low-speed ride and its motor is quite punchy, making adequate power, it simply isn’t exciting enough to drive. Also, at higher speeds, the Sail can’t match up to the Verito’s reassuring stance. The Verito, although it loses out to the Sail in terms of interiors quality, has on offer better value for money. Its spacious, comfortable and emerges on top here, though barely by the skin of its teeth.

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