Chevrolet had launched the Sail U-VA hatchback in last quarter of 2012 before bringing the sedan version of the car to the market. The outgoing Aveo and its hatch version U-VA had failed to impress the buyers here. And therefore GM India had to offer a fresh product to change things. The Sail sedan was the company’s first offering of 2013 and was followed by Enjoy in the middle of the year.
The two engine options for Chevrolet Sail (same as its hatchback sibling) include:
1.2 litre Petrol engine generating 85 bhp of power at 6000 rpm and 11.52 kgm of torque at 5000 rpm
1.3 litre Diesel engine generating 77 bhp of power at 4000 rpm and 20.9 kgm of torque at 1750 rpm
These are mated to 5 speed manual gearbox. There are 4 variants available in both categories with ABS as standard on the top version (LT). But is the Sail actually more impressive than its predecessor? How does it fare it terms of looks and design? What are the new features inside the cabin? How does it behave on the road? Here’s an account of our impression of the Chevrolet Sail sedan:
The Exteriors – analysing the ‘Dynamic Sculpture Design’
This is a decent looking car but has more of conventional styling. It resembles the U-VA right up to the B-pillar. Upfront, the split grille with Chevy bowtie on body-coloured strip is accentuated in chrome. The upswept headlamps are well positioned to illuminate the road ahead. Round fog lamps look nice against plenty of straight creases that highlight the front. You will see the ABS signature on the front quarter panel. Anti lock braking comes with the top two versions – the LT and the LS (ABS). There is an option of chrome inserts for the door handles. Chevy Sail LT trim has 14 inch 8-spoke alloy wheels covered in 175/70 R14 rubber. The base and mid-segment variants use steel wheels in the same size. Door wing mirrors are power adjustable for all variants.
The rising beltline of this sedan looks pretty neat and while the U-VA’s rear is not particularly attractive, the Sail looks better with its boot. The arced roof flows seamlessly into the well integrated boot section. Unlike Maruti Dzire, Honda Amaze and Hyundai Xcent, the Sail is not a sub 4 metre sedan and so it does not have a truncated look. Triangular tail lamps stretching towards the sides give it a distinct Chevrolet identity. Overall the styling is simple and not quite a dynamic sculpture but in terms of design the Sail is a neat and appreciable player in its class.
Boot space of 370 litres is sufficient to load two big suitcases but the loading lip is a little high and the sill is somewhat narrow.
What’s on the inside?
With wide opening doors, ingress is convenient and on stepping inside you see a cabin similar to the U-VA. The quality of dashboard plastic is good but not very impressive for a car in its class. The protruding centre console looks nice. You find the power window switches in front of the gear lever and not on the driver’s door handle.
On the instrument console the speedometer has a simple but neat design and the small tachometer has a digital format – this may not be to the liking of enthusiasts. For music, the top end trim and LS (ABS) get a 2 DIN audio system with CD+MP3 player, Aux and USB ports, Bluetooth music streaming and telephony. But there are no steering mounted controls even in the LT version.
The glove box does not have much room and a narrow, open space has been sculpted above it. There are two cup holders between the front seats and so there is no armrest. To keep your cell phone you get another cubby hole in front of the power window switches. There are manual windows on the base variant. Air conditioner is standard for all versions but there is no automatic climate control on offer. The gear lever knob is wrapped in leather.
Front seats are quite comfortable and offer good visibility but you do not get height adjustment feature for the driver’s seat. The bench seat occupants at the rear have been offered plenty of space. GM has also worked on the back seat cushioning (against which there are complaints in the U-VA) and this has improved the comfort levels. A push-back centre armrest with cup holders is provided and there is storage space beneath the rear seat. This seat however does not have 60:40 split.
Overall, the Sail does provide a comfortable cabin but Chevrolet could have added more equipment at least on top end trim.
Powertrain and Performance Prowess
The 1.3 litre engine powering the diesel Sail is the same as used in Dzire, Manza, and Linea. This is actually the unit that General Motors co-developed with Fiat. It has a fixed geometry turbo to churn 77 bhp for Chevrolet’s sedan. As you crank up the diesel mill it settles into a refined idle and the clatter is not very loud even as it gets warmed up. We liked the light clutch pedal as the car was slotted into the first gear. GM’s engineers have worked to smoothen the power delivery and it is linear. The build up of power below 1750 rpm is gradual and not sharp as in the Dzire. Even when the turbo is not spooled up you can amble about and this makes the Sail easy to drive in city traffic conditions. You will not feel a sudden spike of power when the turbo actually kicks in.
As the needle crosses the 2000 rpm, the mid-range feels strong. The highest power and torque are easily accessible through the rev range. Sail takes 12.4 seconds to go from 20 to 80 km/hour in 3rd gear and 14.3 seconds for 40 to 100 km/hour in 4th gear. Its 0-100 km/hour time is 15.48 seconds. So the engine is pretty responsive when you are driving under normal conditions. It starts to struggle only when the needle touches 110 km/hour.
The gear shifts are smooth and work nicely with the aptly weighted clutch. Gear throws are on shorter side.
A quick note on the 1.2 litre petrol Sail – This engine sounds a little rough on the road and this noise gets more intrusive past 3000 rpm. In terms of performance the petrol powered Sail sedan feels fairly nice and responsive from the mid-range. This engine is at its best in the 4000 -6000 rpm range where the peak power of 85 bhp comes in.
The punch of the power delivery is pretty apparent when we checked it with timed acceleration. The sedan took 14.5 seconds to go from standstill to 100 km/hour. With that punchy engine, going on in the city traffic is not a problem but when you need to overtake especially on the highways, it calls for a downshift and quick acceleration. Another thing that is not as good as its diesel sibling is the five speed gearbox which feels a little rubbery here.
The suspension of this car is admiringly prepared for roads in India. Its Mc Pherson struts in front and non independent torsion beam at rear are really capable of dealing with road undulations. The tall profile of the tyres also helps in tackling the poor road conditions. Low speed ride is supple and even at high speeds it keeps its cabin occupants comfortable. There is no pitch and wallow and we do give a thumbs-up to the ride quality of Chevy’s mid size sedan. Like the Fiat Linea it truly impresses you with its ride excellence.
At normal speeds the car feels composed around corners and body roll is under control. But handling of this saloon leaves something to be desired. The Sail is not quite for driving enthusiasts. That light steering makes the car very easy to maneuver in the city and is good for parking. But it makes you feel disconnected on the highways. You need to keep a firm hand on the wheel at all the times because with speed, it does not weigh up. Straight line stability needs improvement. (Compared to the diesel car though, the petrol model’s steering offers better feedback.) Taking the corners at speed will also result in some body roll. Braking system works agreeably and you have the ABS optimisation on upper end versions.
So the Sail does not fare very well in the handling category but its ride sure is inspiring.
Fuel Guzzling Behaviour
The ARAI rated fuel economy for the diesel Sail sedan is 22.1 km/litre. In our road test under varying driving conditions and with the AC on, we derived 12.5 km/litre in the city and 18 km/litre on the highways.
For the petrol sedan, ARAI certified FE is 18.2 km/litre.
The points that you won’t like about this car are its Spartan interiors, a short list of equipment and the handling. But then it does have a good build quality, a well integrated boot unlike its sub 4 meter sedan competitors, a comfortable cabin, refined and powerful diesel engine, and a delightful ride quality. So it offers a good balance of almost everything you expect in a mid size saloon and that makes it a good family-car.
Sail Diesel is priced between Rs 6.34 lakhs and 7.54 lakhs (ex showroom price Delhi).
Sail Petrol has a price range of Rs 5.15 lakhs to Rs 6.38 lakhs (ex showroom price Delhi).
Value for Money: 3.5/5