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A brand new city-slicker

With the launch of the much-awaited Chevrolet Aveo U-VA, General Motors India has finally completed its launch of three new cars announced almost a year ago. With this, GM’s working class brand Chevrolet is now firmly ensconced in India. As part of the Chevrolet India Revolution, the Aveo U-VA follows the successful launches of the Aveo saloon and the SRV sportsback.

To strengthen its presence in India, beyond expanding its line-up of vehicles, GM India has also expanded its dealership network to slightly under 100 sales points. Also, to ensure better and quicker service two new parts distribution centres have been set up in Maharashtra and Delhi to supplement the two original centres in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. Cost of ownership being a major factor when deciding on which car to buy, GM is also pursuing the localisation of its product line-up to reduce key component prices.

Of course, as everybody is aware, not a single one of these new cars are genuine Chevrolets. Chevrolet, having taken over Daewoo, is now marketing the erstwhile Daewoo Kalos in India as the Chevrolet U-VA. Having said that, one must also stress that Daewoo was always into making decent, value-for-money cars — a trait common to South Korean manufacturers.

The Aveo U-VA or Kalos as it is known elsewhere was introduced to the world in 2002 as a 5-door hatchback. Styled by Italdesign, the car has compact dimensions though the height of 1495mm can be termed van-like. However where GM claims the Aveo U-VA scores, is in interior space. For the Indian market, the Aveo has been modified slightly.

As GM India’s Rajeev Chaba points out, “The Aveo U-VA is a global product sold in Europe, North America and other parts of Asia Pacific. It has been re-engineered for India, based on extensive testing done across the country in order to meet the specific needs of local consumers as well as local driving conditions.” He adds: “To meet local preferences, some parts of the vehicle were redesigned. For instance, the ground clearance was increased to 188mm, suspension was reinforced, air-conditioning improved and full chrome headlamps were developed exclusively for India.”

The Aveo U-VA shares a common platform with the Chevrolet Aveo, introduced in India earlier this year. Both the cars have wheelbases of 2,480 mm, which is the best in its class and ensures that there is a lot of interior room. The two cars also share some mechanical components. As a hatchback, the Aveo U-VA provides incredible space; and different exterior and interior styling, with a sporty feel that makes it stand out against competition in the premium hatchback segment in every respect.

As mentioned earlier, the Aveo U-VA is a product of Giorgetto Giugiaro’s design studio in Turin, ItalDesign. Back in 2002 it took the world by surprise and today, after several updates, it still retains its good looks. Take the jewelled-element headlamps, or even the full chrome bezels. The horizontal grille with a chrome centre bar and a diamond mesh insert dominates the front view.

In profile, the long wheelbase with its short overhangs stands out, and prominent feature lines on the sides and muscular wheel arches combine to give an air of dynamism. The overall side design looks more formal as a result of its six-window styling, which also improves all-around visibility from inside.

Viewed from certain angles, the U-VA comes across as a sporty vehicle. The circular-theme tail lamps also with jewelled elements, add to the sporty look. When Giugiaro designed the car, he is said to have pointed out that such lights decorate a car the way a beautiful watch or a special ring adorns a person with jewels. Strong stuff indeed!

Can grey be a bright colour' GM seems to think so. The interior of the U-VA is quite trendy, to the point of being youth-oriented. Circular motifs abound inside the car, while the power window switches and the door trims have carbon-fibre-like finishing to give an expensive look.

Seating is for five adults without cramping them either in terms of leg space or shoulder room. For those who use their cars as a storage device, there are plenty of storage locations in the cabin — in the front centre console, at the rear of the floor console and in the dual storage areas on the instrument panel.

Rear seat passengers get to sit on double-folding rear seats with a 40:60 split backrest on the top-end LT model. Other goodies in the LT include a rear windscreen wiper and defogger, 14-inch alloy wheels, a leather gear knob, front fog lamps, and a digital clock. What more could you possibly want'

To take advantage of the recent norms for small cars, the Aveo U-VA comes with a 1.2-litre petrol engine that delivers 75bhp of peak power and torque of 110Nm. The modifications here include recalibration of the engine management system and revised gear ratios to take into account variables like Indian fuel, driving habits and traffic conditions. But essentially, the U-VA is a city car that should be both fun to drive and economical to run. Purists may doubt that though and the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.

The Chevrolet Aveo U-VA comes with a three-year/100,000-km standard warranty and a service interval of 5,000km or six months (whichever comes first). Prices (ex-showroom) start at just under Rs 4 lakh. Whether its good value for money — we just have to wait and see.

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