Since the advent in 2005, the Maruti Suzuki Swift has been the king of the ring among premium hatchbacks. Chevrolet has tried with the Aveo U-VA but hasn't been able to dethrone the long standing champion. Will it succeed with the all-new Sail U-VA? Ravi Ved finds out
The competition in the premium hatchback segment in India is as intense as it could ever get. With a bunch of cars out there, each one with its USP, it is getting even more difficult for potential buyers to narrow down on a car from the never ending list. But there has been one car that has ruled the segment over the past seven years and it continues to do so with ease – the Maruti Suzuki Swift. Many cars have entered the market with the intention of dethroning the long standing leader of the class. Some came close, others didn’t, but none was able to even make a dent let alone steal the crown. Will General Motors’ newest offering, the Chevrolet Sail U-VA succeed in this mission impossible is the logical question that came to our minds when this predominantly Chinese-designed and developed machine hit the roads.
General Motors’ journey in India has been quite a rollercoaster ride, right from the early 90s when the American auto maker had a joint venture with Hindustan Motors to produce and sell Opels. Although the Chevrolet Optra sedan, Tavera MUV, and the small city car Beat were able to bring GM on the map in India, the Aveo U-VA was not really successful in attaining substantial results in the fast growing premium hatchback segment. While the Aveo U-VA was quite level headed, it lacked that certain oomph that cars like the Maruti Suzuki Swift and Hyundai Getz had in abundance.
Six years later with the world and its granny having evolved mightily, GM has played it smart but safe. First it ensured its survival with a tie-up and also an equity holding in GMIL with none other than SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation) whereby many products developed for the massive low end segment of the Chinese market were re-engineered to accept diesel and readied for India. The first of these is the Sail U-VA and while being easy on the eye, it is awhat is underneath its skin and make-up which will enable it to be taken seriously, before it comes to do battle with the segment leader.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE LOOK
Design is a major factor that influences buying decision of consumers, and that's the reason manufacturers spend loads of money in emphasizing a particular line of thought or design language. To elaborate, design is similar to fashion, as it tends to get dated with time. Having said that, MSIL has proven us wrong by showing how, with a few tweaks the Swift design has remained fresh over time. So, what’s new in the all-new Swift? The silhouette is the same, retaining all the signature traits, but there is also an improvement in elements that make the car look even more appealing than before. A longer bonnet gives it an aggressive poise while the bulging dual-coloured tail lamps make the rear look wider and add a lot of character to the profile. In a nutshell, changes in all the right places ensure that the new Swift’s design doesn’t feel passé. And taking the devil out of the details and putting god in there has kept the Swift ahead of the pack and firmly in the consumers’ minds.
The Chevrolet Sail U-VA sports the brand’s relatively new design language seen on the Beat and the Cruze. The wide twin slatted front grille gives it an extremely aggressive aura and is highlighted by the sloping hood that merges into the grille adorned by the golden bow tie logo. The lateral headlights that flank the grille make the front end look balanced. The sharp shoulder line and the bulging wheel arches along with the 12-spoke alloy wheels enhance the car's appeal. A swooping line from the bonnet to the roofline and then to the rear adds distinction. The rear however fails to keep up with the front. Although the vertical tail lamps do attempt to spice up the otherwise dreary looking rear-end of the car, they’re not something that end up dominating the tailgate design, which is definitely a good thing. Styling, of course, is a subjective matter and what appeals to one buyer might not appeal to the next. But that being said, it would also be safe to state that the Swift is definitely the better looking car of the two, and sports a design that should be more universally palatable.