Preview: New innings for Chevrolet with the Essentia in India?
Chevrolet may not be doing great with its present line-up of products in India, but it's not stopping the American carmaker from launching newer products in the country. Chevrolet showcased its sub-4m sedan concept, the Essentia, at the 2016 Auto Expo. Dubbed as the successor to the ageing Sail sedan, the Essentia is based on the advanced version of the M300 platform which also underpins the upcoming Beat Activ crossover.
The Chevrolet Essentia will compete with the likes of the Ford Figo Aspire, Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire, Honda Amaze, Hyundai Xcent and the newly launched Volkswagen Ameo. It will reach Indian showrooms in 2017 and is expected to be priced between Rs 4.5-6.5 lakh. In all possibilities, Chevrolet may offer the Essetia with the 1.2-litre petrol and 1.3-litre diesel engine options, the same that powers the outgoing Sail sedan.
Chevrolet states that the Essentia has been primarily designed for the Indian markets but at the same time will have a global appeal. One of the lead designers for the Essentia and the new Beat is an Indian-born creative designer Harish Kumar based in GM Design Studio, Detroit.
Designed at GM's Korea design studio, the Chevrolet Essentia does bear resemblance to the Beat in terms of its overall profile. However, it has its unique bits. The new twin part radiator grille gets chrome garnish which gives it a premium touch. The large wrap around headlights look smart with chrome detailing inside similar to the Hyundai Xcent. The bumper design with fog lamps and central air dam looks identical to that of the existing Chevrolet Beat.
While Chevrolet has not officially revealed the dimensions of the Essentia, it appears to have a longer wheelbase than that of the hatchback. The taller roofline, rising window line and the large doors make the side profile look larger than it actually is. The side profile gets two character lines to hide the large metal portions but don't do much in making it look visually attractive. The wheel arches are similar to the hatchback. However, the Essentia gets a new multi-spoke alloys which we believe will make it only on the top trims while the base variants will come equipped with steel wheels as has been Chevy's pattern for its sub-Rs 10 lakh sedans in India.
It won't be an exaggeration to say that the Essentia gets one of the smartest rear profiles in its segment. The layout has been kept clean and simple with clear lens lights, solid lines on the boot lid and a strong bumper design.
Interior, features and options
The Essentia concept that was showcased at the 2016 Auto Expo had more premium interiors than the Beat, which we hope will make it into the production version with suitable changes. The caramel-finished dashboard might be replaced with a more conventional beige and black combination. The seats too will get traditional Chevy colours similar to the Sail sedan. Although, Chevy might surprise all by offering leather-wrapped seats even if it's only on the top-end variant.
We had a first-hand feel of the space inside the cabin and it felt reasonably comfortable. Both front and rear passengers will benefit from the taller roofline as it offers generous headroom. The rear of the front seats has been scooped to offer more kneeroom to the rear passengers, which has been a popular demand in this segment. We will still reserve our comments on the same until we experience the final production version in 2017.
The highlight of the Chevrolet Essentia will be its MyLink2 touchscreen infotainment system which comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The same is offered in the Chevy's flagship SUV, the Trailblazer. Chevrolet will also offer dual airbags, ABS and a rear camera with park assist on the top trims.
The upcoming Chevrolet Essentia may be powered by the same Fiat-sourced 1.3-litre diesel motor which is seen in the Chevrolet Sail and the Chevrolet Enjoy. This motor makes 75PS at 4,000rpm and generates 190Nm at 1,750rpm. The petrol models will be powered by the 1.2-litre engine that churns out 83.6PS at 6,000rpm and makes 108.5Nm at 5,000rpm. Both these motors will be paired to a 5-speed manual transmission.
The Chevrolet Essentia will be manufactured at the company's Talegaon facility with 80 per cent localisation which will help the brand price the compact sedan competitively. Chevy might also use its Talegaon plant as an export base to ship the Essentia to the African and Latin American markets. The pricing of the Chevrolet Essential will be the key factor in deciding its fate in India, especially considering its rivals like the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire (Rs 5.50-8.89 lakh), Ford Figo Aspire (Rs 5.45-8.86 lakh), Hyundai Xcent (Rs 5.60-8.40 lakh), Tata Zest (Rs 5.32-8.89 lakh) and the Volkswagen Ameo (Rs 5.13-6.91 lakh), all prices ex-Mumbai. We expect Chevy to price the Essentia between Rs 4.5-6.8 lakh.
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