Chevrolet’s all-new premium hatchback, the Sail U-VA, marks a new chapter in GM’s India innings. The first of many India-bound products from GM India’s part-owner, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), the Sail U-VA has been thoroughly re-engineered for India, with a beefed up suspension and strengthened body and chassis.
Chevrolet has launched the car with the option of a petrol or a diesel engine, distributed across a total of seven variants, which is backed by a rather generous three-year/1,00,000km warranty. The pricing is also fairly competitive. So just how good is Chevrolet’s new Sail U-VA?
Another area where the Sail excels is ride comfort. GM has softened the dampers, stiffened the springs and strengthened the anti-roll bar on the India-spec Sail and has also given it tall, 70-profile tyres. The result is an excellent ride that soaks up just about any lump or pothole you may encounter. There’s ample ground clearance too which, along with the long-travel suspension, really allows you to, ahem, sail over the worst of our roads. Straight-line stability is really good too, and it’s only the slight vertical movement at high speeds that spoils its composure.
City-based users will also like the hydraulic power steering for its lightness at low speeds and reasonable feel on twistier paths, but the Sail still does not feel as lively as the Swift or Figo. There’s a dead zone at the straight-ahead position and a fair amount of body roll around bends too, so you can tell this isn’t a car meant to be driven in a rush. Our test cars’ brakes also felt grabby, and this takes some getting used to.
It’s the diesel that is our pick of the two engines. To give you a brief, the Sail uses the same Fiat-sourced 1.3 Multijet engine as the Fiat Grande Punto, Maruti Swift and Tata Vista. However, GM has modified it, giving it a different air filter, a new inlet and exhaust, and a new fixed-geometry turbocharger. Peak power is now up to 77bhp. These changes, along with the revised tuning, have worked well; the engine not only feels more refined, but its responses have improved too. No, the Sail still doesn’t have the effortless bottom-end pull of the Ford Figo’s motor, but it doesn’t feel more responsive than the Swift’s. Like the petrol car, the diesel comes with GM’s new F17 five-speed manual gearbox. Short throws and a narrow gate make this gearbox fun to use, though gearshifts do require some effort and there’s also some whine from the transmission. The diesel’s clutch is on the heavier side too, which is a slight irritant in slow-moving traffic.