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Chevrolet Optra: Affordable style

The spares do cost a fair bit, but the Optra is nevertheless an excellent choice.

autos Updated: May 28, 2008 17:36 IST

The Chevrolet Optra is a comfortable car that comes with a choice of decent engine options. It is one of the most dependable sedans in the market and provides a perfect blend of style, space and practicality This is a big car for the money, . with loads of space inside.

It's a size bigger than the Chevrolet Aveo and the Ford Fiesta, has better finished interiors and offers an image that a new car at the same price doesn't. Since the ‘snob' badge of a Toyota or Honda is missing, resale values are generally not too high, making this car a good second-hand purchase.

Which one should I buy?
This car comes with 1.6-litre, 104 bhp, and 1.8-litre, 115 bhp petrol engine options, which have variants offering a string of feature options. Both engines deliver decent performance, but the smaller (and cheaper) 1.6 engine is the one more easily available in the used car market. Despite its smaller engine capacity, the 1.6 performs almost as well as the 1.8 and you won't even notice the marginally lower power figures in the city .

Among the options on sale, you'll find one with full leather upholstery and a sunroof. There are automatic versions available as well, but those are avoidable, since they're steeply priced - which defeats the very purpose of buying second-hand car.

The best option to go for is the base 1.6, which includes essentials like power steering, power windows and air conditioning.

But watch out for this
Both engines are trouble-free units but Optra spares are on the expensive side, especially compared to its nemesis, the Honda City. The notchy gearbox is an Optra trademark, so don't fret too much if the car you test doesn't have a silky smooth shift.

Also, some cars that have CNG retrofitted could suffer from fuel pump failures. The front and rear brakes both need attention around the 40,000 km mark, so check for any squealing brake noises. The suspension holds out well till the 60,000 km mark but don't forget to check for damage on the body panels. Parts like the front door and hood are expensive to repair. The door costs a whopping Rs 20,000, while replacing the hood can set you back by Rs 16,000. That's almost double what you'd have to pay on a Honda City .

Another thing you must check is the airconditioning. It's better to take a technician along to get the evaporator coil checked to ensure the cooling is not inconsistent.

The AC costs Rs 20,000 to fix - an expense you'd rather avoid.

Running costs
The annual insurance premium for a threeyear-old car should be between Rs 14,000 and 18,000, depending on the variant.

Commonly replaced parts like oil, fuel and air filters cost around Rs 80, Rs 440 and Rs 450 respectively Parts like the front bumper, headlight assembly and wheel rim cost about Rs 10,700, Rs 5,200 and 1,200 respectively while a new radiator will set you back by around Rs 8,600.

The tyres normally last around 40,000 km, and a new set should cost you anything between Rs 4,000 and 6,000, depending on the brand you choose.

The best place to buy
A good place to look for a used Optra is with a private individual or at a GM dealership where cars that have been exchanged by a previous owner are up for sale. Since this car has been around for a little over three years try and find one with the original warranty .

Chevrolet currently offers a three-year service deal which is transferable and will be honoured by Chevrolet dealers as long as the servicing schedule has been adhered to. As part of the deal, Chevrolet will pay for regular servicing including oil and coolant checks. If you buy one which is less than two years old you stand to benefit.
Autocar India