New Sasol GTC cars set for thrills

The iconic Grand Prix Circuit will present a new challenge to the GTC drivers as they tackle the country’s fastest racetrack on June 16.

Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

Suzuki kicks off its new model assault with an all new Swift hatchback and standalone sedan called the Dzire.

Chev's gangster MPV driven

2011-07-22 09:57


FAMILY RIDE: If you're looking for a practical ride for your family, Chevrolet's Orlando MPV could be for you. Picture gallery.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Chevrolet
Engine 1.8-litre petrol
Power 104kW at 6200rpm
Torque 176Nm at 3800rpm
Transmission Five-speed manual
Zero To Hundred 12 seconds
Top Speed 185km/h
Fuel Tank 64-litres
Fuel Consumption 7.2l/100km
Weight 2160
Steering Power steering
ABS Yes, with EBD
Airbags Dual driver, passenger and side
Front Suspension McPherson strut
Rear Suspension Compound crank axel
Service Intervals 12 months/15000km
Service Plan Three years/60000km
Price LS - R254000; LT - R295000
It was 100 years ago that Frenchman Louis Chevrolet and ousted General Motors founder William Durant started what would become one of America’s most iconic brands. The gold bow-tie has catered for many drivers' needs over the past 10 years alone; need a ride on a budget – Spark, need a family car – Cruze, need  a bakkie – get a Corsa or Lumina Ute... even though the last is more for posers.

According to the US automaker, what the brand’s been missing, at least in South Africa, is a mom’s taxi; a vehicle for those who want more versatility than the Cruze has to offer but don’t necessarily have the cash to splash out on a Captiva. With this in mind, Chevrolet's set its sights on the local MPV segment with the launch of its new Orlando.


It's available only as a 1.8 petrol but in two spec levels (LS – entry level; LT – high-end version) and will cost from R250 000 – R295 000.

Chevrolet has also targeted the hatchback market with another Spark-inspired model planned for later in 2011 - more on that a bit later.

For me, the Orlando brings to mind images of Disneyworld or the suave one-time owner of the 'Millennium Falcon' from the 'Star Wars' series. Chev’s MPV looks as though the US automaker drew inspiration from Kia’s Soul and sister brand Cadillac.

The Orlando is a big, bold and unabashed...er, MPV. It’s certainly the most ostentatious MPV on the market and getting behind the wheel of the Orlando is sure to draw quite a few double-takes. It looks like the type of vehicle in which a mob boss's wife wouldn’t seem out of place. While Tony Soprano could be driving his gangster-looking Cadillac Escalade, the Orlando is distinctly "Gangsta" in looks with chunky styling and chromed garnish.


Powering the MPV is the US automaker's 1.8-litre petrol engine capable of  104kW at 6200rpm and 176Nm at 3800rpm. No diesel derivative is planned; a 1.6 petrol version has been launched in the East but Chev’s research shows SA buyers want more power - and I’m inclined to agree. Fuel consumption is rated at a combined 7.2 litresl/100km, not exactly frugal but understandable given its size and engine capacity.

The engine is mated to a smooth-changing five-speed manual transmission but it’s a shame Chev has no plans for an auto... though maybe it’s a good thing considering the poor Cruze auto.

Driving the Orlando is a breeze. If you’ve been behind the wheel of a Cruze you’ll feel right at home; though it uses the same engine it feels more refined.

It’s not exactly riveting driving but is decidedly comfortable whether you’re driving through a city or out on the open road. The ground clearance (132mm) is a great benefit but the suspension is rather harsh. Pushing the Orlando around bends, I’ve found it adequate in terms of handling the twisties at high speed, though if you’re the type of mom who’s pushing corners at high speeds in an MPV perhaps you have bigger things to worry about.


I mentioned already that you’ll feel right at home driving the Orlando if you’ve spent time in a Cruze; this is true of the cabin. The grey/black interior borrows heavily from the Cruze though I’m thankful for the gloss plastic and chromed inserts (LT version) which brighten up an otherwise dull interior. The multimedia unit flips up to provide a handy extra storage place while giving drivers access to the auxiliary ports (no USB, though) for MP3 players.

The LT version has leather trim on the seats, gear-shifter and doors and the interior is quite spacious; pop the boot and you’ll be presented with ample holiday luggage space. Tug on a few levers and up will pop a couple of small extra seats suitable for small youngsters or the family dog; grown-ups will find things a trifle tight.

Overall, I like the interior; it’s not exactly eye-catching, even bordering on dull, but it’s practical for mom’s-taxi needs and the controls are intuitively placed.

The Orlando has some rather tough competition to fend off in its class, among them Mazda’s 5 and Peugeot's 3008.

Overall it’s a versatile family car and will fulfil any travelling need, whether it’s packing luggage to the roof for a holiday or just picking up the kids from school.

The differences between the LS and LT versions are mainly cosmetic, the LT version sporting chromed finishes such as the door sills. Overall the extra R41 000 on the price tag comes in the form of auto aircon, 18" rims, motion-sensitive wipers and the aforementioned styling upgrades. I think you’d be better off saving the bucks by opting for the lower-spec version as, performance and features-wise, there’s no difference between the two.

Orlando LS – R254 000
Orlando LT – R295 000


Chevrolet will launch its Sonic hatchback locally in 2011; if not earlier, then at the Johannesburg international auto show in October. The new model is intended to complete Chev's compact car offering and looks like a cross between the current Spark and the Aveo. Given its size, it could either replace the latter or be positioned as the brand’s high end hatchback competitor for Ford's Fiesta and Renault's Clio.

Chevrolet is planning an aggressive model launch schedule - eight in 2012 - and, no, they’re not bringing the Camaro.


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