GM India have barely recovered from the Halol fiasco wherein their workers went on strike for more than a month and GMI had to cut down on its production and stuff. However whenever some one says the name Chevrolet and not necessarily in the Indian contest, it is the Corvette which comes to mind. Its racy attitude and style plus variety of other factors including its engine and exhaust roar are what make it a celebrity that it is. In India however Chevrolet are known more for their value for money cars like the Spark, Optra, Tavera, Beat and the Aveo. Ohh, did I forget the Cruze here which has been setting the sales charts on fire? Amongst all this, there is one car which didn’t set the sales chart on fire. Far from it, it shied away from the sales chart. Nor did GM India do their best in promoting this car. Yes, it’s the now discontinued Chevrolet SRV. The SRV tag stands for Sports Recreational Vehicle a la Honda CRV which stands for Completely Recreational Vehicle. GM India introduced this car with a view that it would bring public out of the staid image that they had of GM being a small car maker with value for money products. However the SRV failed to do that and hence had to be discontinued. So, taking a cue from one of the used car dealers in Vashi, I actually got a Chevrolet SRV in India for a review. Here is the review report.
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There is nothing available in India as of now like the SRV and by that, I mean a hatch, which can hold a candle to the Chevrolet SRV’s looks. That it has been designed by Italdesign is another thing. Its good looks are not only a head turner but also ensure that the heads remain turned even when it is in motion. The head lamps have an almond shaped hue to them. Its snout is also on the longer side, much like the VW Polo’s. However some may find the styling too similar to the Optra Magnum. The alloy wheels are similar, well almost, to the ones which were offered in the Fiat Palio 1.6 GTX. There are fog lamps on offer as well. The door handles are of the pull out types laced with chrome. The tyre section is also a fat one with a 195/60 R15 configuration. From the rear, the car looks very much like Fiat’s Alfa Romeo Brera. The rear is the prettiest rump I have seen on Indian cars. The clear lens tail lamps are bisected by the stylish tail, which is fitted with a spoiler. Unfortunately, the tail pipe disappoints and instead GM India could have put up a chunkier unit.
Open the well sculpted doors and the fabric is the carbonfibre types. In keeping trend with its American cars, GM has got the interiors in all black case. The circular air-conditioning dials ensure that the cabin is cooled very quickly. The 4 spoke steering wheel looks similar to the one employed in the Aveo U-VA. The meter dials look the simple part. On the central console, there is a small multi information display which houses the clock, outside temperature and other regular stuff. The driver’s seat can be adjusted for lumbar support and also height. However one would have to wrestle with the steering wheel since it cannot be adjusted for rake or reach. GMI have offered a dead pedal for the Chevrolet SRV in India. Anti pinch windows make their presence felt. There is also a chilled glovebox on offer, which on the test car, wasn’t functioning. Must be due to the age attribute. There is a single CD changer music system on offer which doesn’t have aux input facility. The steering wheel is wrapped in leather and also the gear knob has been wrapped in leather. There is a single large glove box, which can hold most of the stuff. However just like in the Optra, even here, the protruding central console impedes with the front passenger’s knee room. The biggest surprise here is that unlike the VW Polo, there is lots of space at the rear. Infact, the SRV is called as the Optra hatchback wherein GMI have retained the interior dimensions of the Optra and have instead chopped off the boot. However apart from the dashboard, rest of the materials were on the harder side to feel and touch. Under thigh support was fantastic and the car was very comfortable. It helped that the previous owner had kept it as a stock car and didn’t invest in anything else. The seats split 60:40 whereas the boot is enough to hold the weekend groceries and the occasional small bicycle.
There are not many cubby holes though and this might just be not right for those looking for a Skoda Fabia like utility. Some of the door map pockets actually hurt the fingers.
Handling and ride quality
As far as the ride and handling qualities go, there are not many GM cars here in India which can boast of having a good handling capability. However the Chevrolet SRV in India is a different car. Its fatter section tyres ensure that there is loads of grip while going around a corner and the steering too is on the lighter side to ensure that the ffront wheel driven car is quick to change directions. However the steering isn’t as sharp as the one in the Fiesta and hence when turned in full force, it just doesn’t deliver enough feedback. As for the ride quality, the SRV has been sprung on the harder side. This means that at low and mid speeds, the bumps do get transmitted to the cabin. However, I did feel that this actually a nice setup to enjoy the handling of the car. A small issue which can be easily forgiven, given the enjoyable handling on offer. NVH also has been tuned to be on the lower side and just like the Optra saloon, this car ensures a peaceful and calmful atmosphere inside the cabin. However due to its overhangs, visibility is a bit of problem and especially more towards the rear end.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
The Chevrolet SRV in India comes with a single engine option. It is the 16V DOHC engine which brings in 100 Bhp of power and 140 Nm of torque. Just like the Optra, even this has got the variable geometry turbo or VGIS system. A 5 speed manual transmission just like the one in the Optra finds its way here. I had earlier read horrendous stories about this transmission being on the notchier side of things. However, do keep in mind that GM has put up this clutch and gear setup in such a way that the gear would shift smoothly only once the clutch has been fully depressed. If not, then the gearshifts would be on the notchier side. Looks like the previous owner had maintained his car well since the aforementioned method of shifting works and the gears do slot into their gate very well and without hesitation. 0-100 kmph came up in only 12.4 seconds whereas the top speed that it could be raced upto was 174 kmph, which is more than what most of the hatchbacks in India can afford to go. GM India have provided the SRV with ABS and this along with the discs in front and drums at the rear combination ensured that the SRV stops well in advance. Brake pedal modulation was also good and didn’t carry the vague feeling that some of GM’s Indian models come with. Other than ABS, there is no other braking aid. As far as safety is concerned, the top end model or rather the optional kit includes the driver air bag. The steering wheel is of the collapsible nature as well and the side intrusion beams also help in a big way. Fuel efficiency that I achieved from this 1230 kgs car was a good 11.3 kmpl in the city and 16.7 kmpl on the highway.
Well, as discussed before, the Chevrolet SRV in India met with an untimely death just 3 years after it was launched in 2006. Now, the specimen that I reviewed was a used car (don’t expect me to go and give you the tips regarding buying a used Chevrolet SRV). The SRV had its positives in the fact that it was very spacious inside the cabin and though equipment list was bare basic, it made up for sense at that time when it was launched. It had looks to die for plus a 1.6 liter engine which was equally at home both in the city and highway. Its handling was also very good though the steering veered on the border of being okay to vague. Moreover, it had 185 mm of ground clearance that was a good bonus point on our bad roads. Yes, there are negatives like its not so good ride quality, not so premium interiors and the sticker price. Yes, the Chevrolet SRV price in India ranged from Rs 6.99 lakhs to Rs 7.54 lakhs. All these prices are ex-show room, Mumbai. Well, its no use discussing the price and stuff now since the car has been already buried. As for the price of the specimen that I drove now, you would be flummoxed at the resale price. It was a 2008 model and the used Chevrolet SRV price was Rs 4.2 lakhs. This was the one with the options pack. Great deal, I would say and if anyone interested, can go to the Vashi stretch of Palm Beach Galleria and check out for the 699 number blue SRV.