With European styling and sensible specifications, the spacious Optra is Chevrolet SA’s new contender in the subcompact market. Despite opposition from the Toyota Corolla, Opel Astra and others, could the Optra turn out to be Chev’s biggest seller in SA?

With European styling and sensible specifications, the spacious Optra is Chevrolet SA’s new contender in the subcompact market. Despite opposition from the Toyota Corolla, Opel Astra and others, could the Optra turn out to be Chev’s biggest seller in SA?


The Optra 1,6, sold in some markets as the Daewoo Lacetti but better known to South Africans as a descendant of the erstwhile Nubira, is the subject of a road test in the April edition of CAR magazine, which goes on sale today. In the test, CAR’s editors also weigh up the Optra against the Ford Focus 1,6 Ambiente, Hyundai Elantra 1,6 GLS, Mazda Etude 160ie, Mitsubishi Lancer 1,6 GLX, Opel Astra Classic Club and the Toyota Corolla 160i GLE. See the latest CAR to see who comes out on top.


Three Optra models were recently introduced in South Africa: a 1,6 Base model, a 1,6 LS derivative and a 1,8 LT model. Both 1,6- and 1,8-litre engine are multi-valve, dual cam multi-point injection units. The 1,6-litre engines feature variable intake manifolds and produce 80 kW at 5 800 r/min and maximum torque of 150 N.m at 4 000. The 1,8-litre has 90kW of maximum power available at 5 800 rpm and 165 Nm torque at 4 000 rpm.


The Optra has unfussy styling courtesy of Italian styling house Pininfarina and is available in a range of metallic paint finishes at no additional cost. Furthermore, the interior (designed in conjunction with Pininfarina) has an elegant, European feel.


All models are equipped with a height-adjustable driver’s seat with thigh support. Additional lumbar support is provided for the driver on the LS model, and for the driver and passenger on the LT model derivative. There is a sunglass holder on the LT, as well as front door storage pockets and a central console with cup holder and storage bin on all the models.


A sound system is standard throughout the range and comprises a radio and frontloader CD-player combination with four speakers on the 1,6 Base model, a radio/ CD-shuttle with four speakers on the 1,6 LS and the 1,8 LT models have a radio / CD shuttle playing through six speakers. The LT is fitted with ease-of-use radio controls on the steering wheel.


Air conditioning, electric windows and rear-view mirrors, hydraulic power steering, immobiliser, remote central locking and a alarm system are standard on all the Optra models. There are front electric windows on the 1,6 and front and rear power windows on the LS and LT. Other features include remote trunk lid and fuel flap opener, map reading lamps on both passenger and driver’s sides, a front interior lamp with fade and delay, as well as a luggage compartment light.


The steering column can be tilted and the 1,8 LT model has additional telescopic adjustability, rain-sensing intermittent wipe function and climate control function.


Safety equipment includes Bosch 5.3, four-channel ABS and airbags. Boyle said: “For the local market, we have specified a driver airbag only on the 1.6 Base model in order to keep the vehicle price competitive, while the 1.6 LS and 1.8 LT versions have been fitted with dual airbags.”


Additional safety is provided by three-point centre seatbelts and headrests on front and rear seats, child seat anchorage points and rear door child locks.


Chevrolet SA opted for the firmer suspension version of the Optra, which was developed in the United Kingdom, giving the vehicle a slightly more performance-orientated ride. The Optra’s suspension comprises MacPherson struts in the front and a multi-link system at rear with coils and gas shock absorbers all round.


The Chevrolet Optra 1.6 Base model is priced at R141 700, the LS at R158 700 and the LT at R179 900. Service intervals are scheduled at 15 000 km intervals and the warranty covers three years or 100 000 kilometres. Vehicle maintenance plans are also available as additional options.

Original article from Car