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A gross misnomer

GM has a new people-mover. Will it capture the people’s hearts? In a tough segment, it may be a tough task. Sumant Banerji reports.

autos Updated: May 24, 2013 11:01 IST
Sumant Banerji
Sumant Banerji
Hindustan Times

The demand for utility vehicles in India may be ebbing, but there is no stopping the growing list of newbies in the segment. The latest on it is Chevrolet Enjoy, GM’s second offering from dragon-land. Desperate to return to the growth path, the company has already brought in two models — the Sail compact car and notchback — in the industry’s most sought after segments. The two have seen moderate success so far. The Enjoy also enters a segment that has much potential, but will it chart a new course? Or will this be just another sad story?

Design and exterior
It is never easy to design a people mover that is visually appealing and practical at the same time. Many have tried and failed miserably. Some of the ugliest looking vehicles on the roads today are from this segment. The Enjoy, though not the worst of the lot, is not much to cheer about either. It is big and tall and as all people movers go — boxy. The trademark Chevy grille with the embossed bow tie and chiselled head lamps try to push things, but does not end up doing much. The rear, with its dated tail lamp cluster, is even more uninspiring. It is a challenge to find beauty in this design: missed opportunity, GM.

The emphasis here is clear — functionality over style. Like the Nissan Evalia, the Enjoy is smartly packaged inside. Space is more than adequate even in the third row, and the

seats offer good support for the long haul. Thanks to the large glass area, the cabin feels roomy. What disappoints is the overall quality of plastic, fit and finish, and aesthetically speaking, the dashboard and instrument cluster. With a car-like rival in the Maruti Ertiga, GM should have worked a little harder on this. There is a distinct plasticy feel on the various knobs and buttons. The faux wood on the side panel and gear lever do little to liven things up, and the boot, well, you’ve got to look for it. In a nutshell, from the inside the Enjoy is distinctly ‘Made in China’.

Performance, ride, handling

The Enjoy comes with the ubiquitous 1.3-litre multijet diesel engine that powers so many small cars in the country — including the main rival, Ertiga — and a 1.4-litre petrol On paper, it ought to mirror the Maruti vehicle. On the road, it is a different story though. The diesel engine is famed for its low-end torque, which the Enjoy too showcases. Beyond 1,500 rpm, the engine is eager and revs freely. GM has also tweaked the suspension well and the ride quality for a tall car is very good.

What detracts is the lack of refinement, and poor transmission. The gears feel heavy and often refuse to slot correctly — a nightmare while overtaking. The clutch feels heavy and ergonomically is a near-disaster. There is no dead pedal either, and the driver sort of squeezes his legs into the pedal area. The experience is not much better in the front passenger seat either, and coupled with the absence of an arm rest, are enough to ruin a long drive. Body roll too is perceptible. A vehicle for a chauffeur, who may freely curse you.

Just 15 minutes behind the wheel makes things very clear: Chevrolet will have difficulties convincing individual customers to shift from an Ertiga. Thankfully, they have learnt one critical lesson in all these years of experience in India— shrewd pricing. At Rs 5.49-6.99 lakh for petrol and Rs 6.69-7.99 lakh for diesel, the Enjoy is the cheapest true-blue seven seater vehicle in India today— almost Rs 1 lakh cheaper than the equally uninspiring Xylo and around Rs 50,000-70,000 less expensive than the smaller Ertiga. It does not have pageant-winning looks, but does offer decent space and good ride. Hard to visualise big families cosying up to it, but with its high value-for-money credentials, it is more likely to interest the commercial transport segment.

Next week: Mercedes A Class

First Published: May 23, 2013 22:00 IST