Chevrolet Sail Notchback Review
Chevrolet Sail Notchback – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Chevrolet Sail Review

Car tested: 2013 Chevrolet Sail

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 5.95 – 9.09 lakhs

The Chevrolet Sail is high on practicality, which is imperative to a large chunk of buyers.

Mid-sized sedans are seeing increased demand in India, with sales improving gradually over the past few years. Today, the mid-sized segment is quite crowded with many products on offer from a slew of manufacturers, both local and international. General Motors entered this segment long time back with the Chevrolet Aveo, a vehicle which tasted little success, due to the lack of a diesel engine and intense competition. Now in its second go in the Aveo segment, GM has armed the Chevrolet Sail with a potent diesel motor, which is sure to appeal to a larger section of buyers. So does the Sail sedan impress?

Exteriors – The Sail notchback is the sedan version of the Sail U-VA hatchback and thus the styling of both vehicles is almost identical till the B-pillar, post which we have slightly bigger windows for a better rear seat experience. However unlike some sedans in the segment, where the boot seems to be an after thought, the Chevrolet Sail has a well integrated boot which doesn’t look out of place. The tail lights are big and the rear bumper has nice lines too. The overall styling of the vehicle is conservative and the styling won’t grab eyeballs but neither will it offend anyone. The neutral design of the Sail puts it across as a simple vehicle where function precedes form.

The neatly integrated boot doesn’t look big on the outside but offers enough space to carry big bags. The loading bay is slightly high but overall SAIC has done a fantastic job to ensure the Sail’s rear is not an eye-sore like the Maruti Suzuki Swift DZire.

Interiors – GM has made absolutely no changes to the dashboard of the Sail sedan over the Sail U-VA hatchback. The interiors are almost identical too and there are minor changes like softened seat cushioning and fixed rear seats (the hatchback has folding seats which boosts carrying capacity). The interiors of the Chevrolet Sail are not a lively place to be in and overall quality levels are average at best. The use of beige colors on the interiors does give the Sail an airy feeling on the inside. However the plastics are hard and the steering wheel feels quite an over thought, with no color co-ordination whatsoever.

The Sail sedan is expected to fill the shoes of the erstwhile Optra, which was known to be a loaded vehicle. Sadly GM has thought otherwise with the equipment list of the Sail, which doesn’t get steering mounted audio controls, on-board computer and climate control. What the Chevrolet Sail sedan loses in terms of interiors design appeal, it makes up by offering loads of space. There is ample amount of legroom and headroom on offer throughout the vehicle and every occupant will be comfortable inside the car. Seating five is not an issue thanks to the centrally placed fuel tank. There are quite a few storage areas too and the doors have generous pockets as well.

A few things which GM should have fixed in the Chevrolet Sail notchback but haven’t is the power window switches which have been placed right ahead of the gear knob. There is no dead pedal nor driver’s seat height adjustment on offer. The instrument cluster doesn’t feel much intuitive either and the tachometer should be switched with the speedometer. A digital speedometer and an analog tachometer is easier to understand, rather than the other way round. The Sail does get keyless entry and a feature laden audio system which has AUX, USB and Bluetooth connectivity. Overall the cabin doesn’t feel special but is quite practical and there is loads of space to be utilized. We would have liked if GM would have offered more equipment, at least on the top-end variants.

Performance – Powering the Sail sedan is the same set of engines from the Sail U-VA hatchback. Which means you get a 1.2-litre petrol engine, even though the Sail is not a sub 4-metre compact sedan. GM chose the 1.2-litre engine over the 1.4-litre engine in the interest of fuel economy. The 1.2-litre engine is also a generation ahead of the 1.4-litre engine. The 1.2 Smartech motor is not the best when it comes to NVH levels but offers decent performance from the 86 horses it has on tap. In-gear acceleration is good and this motor feels best in the mid-range but the rubbery gearbox does take away from shifting cogs smoothly.

The more popular engine of choice will certainly be the diesel, which uses the highly acclaimed 1.3-litre Fiat oilburner. This motor has been tweaked by GM engineers to befit the Sail for better city drive-ability. Power delivery is linear and although turbolag is evident, it is relatively contained. Mid-range from this engine is fantastic and there is good progress between 2000-3500 RPM. The top-end is not as punchy though and power trails off quickly at around 4000 RPM. GM has used its own gearbox on this diesel engine, which has short throws and the overall experience from the diesel Sail is very positive.

Driving Dynamics – The Chevrolet Sail has decent stability at high speeds but the steering doesn’t feel as direct and involving as some of its Japanese rivals. While the steering is light at low speeds, making it easy to maneuver in city conditions, it doesn’t weigh well enough as speeds build up. GM has improved the steering on the petrol model which feels slightly better. Handling is decent though there is some amount of body roll which is marginally more than the hatchback. However the ride quality is simply fantastic and the Sail blows you away by absorbing bad roads in its stride with utter confidence. We took the vehicle on the worst possible roads around GM’s Talegaon facility and the Sail thoroughly impressed us. Braking performance is good with ABS on offer on top end variants.

Verdict – The Chevrolet Sail sedan thus comes across as not much more than a Sail U-VA with a boot but in this case, the boot has been integrated very well. GM has retained the interiors, engines and features on the sedan, with its hatchback sibling. There are a few shortcoming like the lack of features and average steering feel, but the ride quality and space more than make-up for it. The 3-year Chevy promise on offer will make the Sail a very competitive car in the segment. Now GM only needs to price the Sail sedan very aggressively to taste success in the mid-size sedan segment. The Chevrolet Sail does offer plenty to the buyer but the company has to play the value for money card in view of intense competition from more established rivals.

Good interiors space, generous boot and splendid ride quality make the Sail sedan a very practical vehicle in its segment.

Whats Cool

* Excellent ride quality
* Interior space
* Well integrated boot

Whats Not So Cool

* Plastic and interiors quality
* Some equipment missing
* Steering feel

Chevrolet Sail Specifications

* Engine: 1248 cc, 16V, DOHC, SDE (diesel), 1199 cc, 16V, DOHC, Smartech
* Power: 78 PS @ 4000 RPM (D), 86 PS @ 6000 RPM (P)
* Torque: 205 Nm @ 1750 RPM (D), 113 Nm @ 5000 RPM (P)
* Transmission: 5-speed manual
* Top Speed: 160 km/hr
* 0-100 km/h: 16 seconds (D), 15 seconds (P)
* Fuel Consumption (as per ARAI): 22.1 km/l (D), 18.2 km/l (P)
* Fuel Type: Diesel and Petrol
* Suspension: Mcpherson struts with coil springs and stabilizer bar (Front), Semi-independent suspension with coil springs (Rear)
* Tyres: 175/70/14 Tubeless Radials
* Brakes: 240 mm Disc (Front), 200 Drums (Rear), ABS, EBD
* Safety: ABS, EBD, Dual SRS Front Airbags

Chevrolet Sail Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 4249 mm X 1690 mm X 1503 mm
* Wheelbase: 2465 mm
* Front/Rear Track: 1462/1457 mm
* Ground clearance: 174 mm (D), 168 mm (P)
* Turning Radius: 5.15-metres
* Boot Volume: 370-litres
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 42-litres
* Kerb Weight: 1124 kgs (D), 1065 kgs (P)