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Old 3rd July 2005, 19:04   #1
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Default 7500km. Not so long term report of OPTRA 1.8

Stereotype:Something reproduced without variation; unchanging, conventionalized idea, repeat without variation, reproduce with dull uniformity, present always in the same way.

This was one comment about me as a buyer when I wrote my initial feelings about my OPTRA a year back. After spending more than 24 years in the business of communication, this sounds like a seriously negative baggage to carry. I have not tried to correct my course to come out of that label because, I donít know whatís to be done or Iím as confused as any other creative person.

Performance: Carrying out of an action; achievement, feat.

This particular word I keep reading in the forum. Obviously, the meaning has changed to suit individual expression.

These two words are extremely important when somebody is talking about or comparing OPTRA.
One year down the line I see a slant towards OPTRA. Itís been in the market for more than two years. Made some brownie points. Scored pretty well with its competition. To prove a point, also rammed into another rival in the middle of busy crossing in Bombay. Changed its smile by upgrading the radiator grill. Promoted to wear 15 inches wheel. Added a desperate label with big apple without adding anything significantÖ A poor attempt from their marketing division.

In this forum those who are comparing BALENO with OPTRA, a word of caution to them. Do not do it. Itís not the price game. Itís not so called performance game. There is nothing common in terms of behavior between these two cars. Do not fall for the pricing trap. If you do and buy an OPTRA, you may end up being happy or unhappy. Performance according to individualís understanding plays the main game here.

So here I jot down my views and experience. Owning an OPTRA for 16 months and covering 7500 km. This note can be deciphered as a future OPTRA buyers guide and not to mention, old manís blabber.
First things first. Changed wheels to 15 inches from 14. A member whoís not with us and bought an OPTRA few months back. His report says that he had to wait for GM to modify the suspension for 15 inches. No such thing happens because OPTRA by default comes with 15 inches in other countries. Additional stress, if any on the suspension would have been noticeable in my car by now. This one rides on 15 inch 205/50 tyres. Bridgestone POTENZA RE711 to be precise. Tyre change happened in last October. With my 16 spoke wheels from bland five spokes from GM. From here, I picked up the name Ďbling kingí from AjmatÖlater on evangelised by Rtech in Bombay. I felt then and still feel that this design suits OPTRA.



These tyres have given me enough confidence to clip the car at 160 plus. Especially on long curves where one tends to use the brakes or down shift. 50 profile doesnít really show road impurities. But lower profile always poses one threat, a sharper shock transmission to alloys. One needs to be careful while driving through such patches.



GMís contribution TNRS: Total Noise Reduction System. Works like magic. My low profile tyres transmit some noise but regular 14 inches set up is noiseless till one hits 120 plus. Post this one would hear a numb whines form 1.8 mill. Suspension and chassis tweaked by LOTUS is exemplary. Faster the OPTRA, better the mannerism. One wouldnít feel the potholes on highways. All wheel independent suspension is supple but taut.
Steering is accurate but dull. Speed sensitivity action starts at high speed but the feel of the speed/road in ones fists is missing. This is however, not a big complaint. Interior appointments like switches, knobs are of very good quality. Steering is wrapped it smooth black leather and audio control is a boon for long drives. Seating is one of the real strong points where OPTRA scores really well. Switch on the AC, switch on the CD changer and drive for hours without a stop to stretch your body. Perfect lumbar support and back support are the key. Push the front seat back to maximum. There is still enough room for an adult to stretch his legs.
AC, by the way is not as strong as BALENO. You donít have to fiddle with the AC controls either. Itís more like having a climate control without having one. Thankfully, Bangalore experiences summer for two and half months only. Till date Iíve never pushed my fan switch to maximum.



Headlamps are poor. This is one area where Iím really unhappy. For having separate bulbs for high/low beams, problem is even more compounded. I seek help from Rtech, N_C, Ajmat and Rehaan for this. Fog lamps are more of a showpiece. SKODAís lights are way powerful, Above mentioned members, I seek your help for this also.
Sun/moon roof is working fine but I havenít seen any of them through that and neither did I carry a strainer.
Torque is the name of the game on the highway. Here scores the OPTRA. Eating long stretches effortlessly without doing much. For instance youíre cruising at 130 and suddenly slowing down to 60 (for that truck which just got on the road without signal).. donít shift down but gas down politely. OPTRA will take you back to your three digit speed all the way in no time. All without shifting down and on overdrive.
I never felt the feeling of front lifting at high speed. This could be because of suspension and massive weight of 1.8ís iron block. The comparison is because I felt front lifting at high speed in stock BALENO on my way to Agra from Delhi.
Ghat roads are well controlled in OPTRA. Few months back we had to make a trip to PALAMNER (Andhrapradesh) for a shooting. Two cars (mine and a Corolla) with six people. On our way back I was driving COROLLA just to get the feel. On the simple ghat roads COROLLA started behaving like a sophisticated cement mixer especially in the corners. Body roll was substantial where as in front OPTRA was absolutely planted on the ground. Exception was in footwear. COROLLA was with stock tyres and behaving like a bullet on flat land.
In this 16 months I havenít had a single problem with this car (though Iím touching all the possible wood surfaces and writing this). Few months ago, GM called for my car to change the ECM and fuel pump. On enquiry they replied that thereís voltage issue with few cars and unfortunately/fortunately my car falls in that batch. My car has been through that surgery and I havenít noticed any change.
Iím not putting down any technical specs cause thatís been done in first report.

Is this a car to throw around all corners?
No itís not.

Is this a car to do 100 in less than 10sec?
No, it takes 11sec to get to that mark.

Is this a car can do power slide? Diagonal skids and what have you?
May be. May be not. But if it does, I swear it wonít look happy.

The so-called definition Ďperformanceí to me for OPTRA stands for reliability, comfort with smooth power. A right package for a stereotype like me.. Till such time I understand.

For last few months Iím going out almost every Sunday for a drive. Proud to mention the fact that Iíve injected the habit into our Bombay team also. There are essentially two reasons for me to do this. To get the hell out of Bangalore for some time and second, to get some photographs. Few Sundays back these pictures were shot in Bangalore Ė Krishnagiri route. Heavy monsoon overcast is always a dream light for me to shoot cars. The reason is simple..you donít get any harsh sunlight. Friend and TBHpian Jaggu was the driver to pose the car for me. Jaggu, thanks a lot pal. Pictures are looking all right.

P.S. Despite being one of the key members for printing/designing TBHP stickers..I donít have any on my cars. What I have is small 6 inches in length reflective red address. It glows when headlight hits it. People ask me on the road and traffic intersection about it. I just tell them to log in. Small 6 inches line is our addressÖ



For those who like to take snaps of cars: These pictures are shot with CANON EOS1V camera using 70-200, 2.8 L series lens. Strip shot was using MANFROTTO 058 TRIPOD with MANFROTTO 029 PAN HEAD. Kodak Gold 100ASA film. Negative scan with Dr HELL drum scanner. Colour retouching using Photoshop 5.5 and Live Picture 2.6.

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 3rd July 2005 at 21:21.
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Old 3rd July 2005, 19:29   #2
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Very well written long term report and the pics are great (as they have always been in your case).

Liked the film strip. Something new for a change.

Quote:
For those who like to take snaps of cars: These pictures are shot with CANON EOS1V camera using 70-200, 2.8 L series lens. Strip shot was using MANFROTTO 058 TRIPOD with MANFROTTO 029 PAN HEAD. Kodak Gold 100ASA film. Negative scan with Dr HELL drum scanner. Colour retouching using Photoshop 5.5 and Live Picture 2.6.
Thanks for mentioning that coz, that would have probably been my first question to you. hehe

Quote:
Torque is the name of the game on the highway. Here scores the OPTRA. Eating long stretches effortlessly without doing much. For instance youíre cruising at 130 and suddenly slowing down to 60 (for that truck which just got on the road without signal).. donít shift down but gas down politely. OPTRA will take you back to your three digit speed all the way in no time. All without shifting down and on overdrive.
Haha, still remember my first drive in your car. Everytime i'd downshift you'd go "Why the heck do you keep down shifting?". it really does pull, irrespective of what gear you're in.

Quote:
On our way back I was driving COROLLA just to get the feel. On the simple ghat roads COROLLA started behaving like a sophisticated cement mixer especially in the corners. Body roll was substantial where as in front OPTRA was absolutely planted on the ground.
Even with stock tyres, the Optra is much more confident going around corners at "more than normal" speeds. I can tell, as I test drove both the cars on the same day and the same stretch of road.


Quote:
I never felt the feeling of front lifting at high speed. This could be because of suspension and massive weight of 1.8ís iron block. The comparison is because I felt front lifting at high speed in stock BALENO on my way to Agra from Delhi.
Hmm, could this be what Samurai was complaining about, his Baleno feeling light at 130+?

PS : I was expecting your car to have done more than 7500kms.

Shan2nu

Last edited by Shan2nu : 3rd July 2005 at 19:35.
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Old 3rd July 2005, 19:40   #3
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very good review. great photos too specially love the third photo.
those alloys look very good

Quote:
His report says that he had to wait for GM to modify the suspension for 15 inches. No such thing happens because OPTRA by default comes with 15 inches in other countries
but does that mean those coming with 14 inche have not been calibrated for that size?
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Old 3rd July 2005, 20:04   #4
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sweeet...so now you can leave the car with the doctor for full performance !!!
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Old 3rd July 2005, 21:39   #5
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Wow! Great write-up sir, and amazing photographs too! Maybe you should send them to GM for their 2006 brochure!
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Old 3rd July 2005, 21:53   #6
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Nicely written and magnificient images. Optra has definately succeded in its market as being an allrounder.
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Old 3rd July 2005, 22:30   #7
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Nice write up :-) And the pics are just AWESOME!!!!

After having driven your car, my only negative comments are:
1. Lack of feeling/ weight in the steering at high speeds
2. Indicators on the wrong side of the steering

Apart from that its a very good mile cruncher
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Old 3rd July 2005, 23:32   #8
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Hi Rudra,

Great review, as one of the guys who had the honour of driving this car, I have to agree with everything you have written. When I drove it, it almost made me rethink about the Baleno I purchased a week before. It was almost like driving an Auto-Tran car. Had I test driven the car before, I may have seriously considered Optra.

Yeah, the front lifting problem with Baleno (even with upgraded tyres), well I am really looking for a solution to that. My next service is nearing, may be I'll have long talk with the service guys.

Regarding the Photographs, you have really mastered the art of using ambient light. I can't understand how you got that kind of front illumination on the car. I feel there is some non-ambient light source, however I can't place it. Although I have some really top notch cameras, I haven't put enough effort to really master them.

Regarding the stickers, you told me you can get me the kind of sticker you have, I am still waiting.
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Old 3rd July 2005, 23:33   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rahulmd
2. Indicators on the wrong side of the steering
In the 15 minutes I drove this car, I must have turned on the wipers at least 5-6 times...
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Old 4th July 2005, 00:20   #10
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Great report & amazing pics as usual. I agree with you on the performance of the Optra. Its not a boy racer car. I love the car, damn comfortable & luxurious on the inside.
Quote:
In the 15 minutes I drove this car, I must have turned on the wipers at least 5-6 times...
Samurai,
Thats surprising since you've driven extensively in the US & if I'm not wrong, cars in US follow the same.
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Old 4th July 2005, 00:38   #11
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Quote:
In the 15 minutes I drove this car, I must have turned on the wipers at least 5-6 times...
Tell me about it. Hahah

Shan2nu
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Old 4th July 2005, 00:44   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RJK
Samurai,
Thats surprising since you've driven extensively in the US & if I'm not wrong, cars in US follow the same.
Yes, but he's used to the indicators being on this side. Its what you're immediately used to that comes to hand...I keep using the wipers to signal every time I come to India for the first few days, and then again every time I return to DXB from India for the first few days...
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Old 4th July 2005, 01:14   #13
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Rudra Sir,

great review and beautilful shots of your ride..

my dad himself is looking to buy the Optra..we recently test drove it ...will certainly make him go through your ownership experience of the build quality and ride comfort...being used to Opels these are the things he will not compromise upom ..

Quote:
Indicators on the wrong side of the steering
there is no wrong side of the wheel ..hehehhe ..
i swear at our maruti each time i shift from the opel ... for the same reason
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Old 4th July 2005, 06:12   #14
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Hey Rudra,
Awesome write up and even better pics.
For some reason i want even more pictures.
Anyway, trying to get better with cameras to do justice to the cars.
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Old 4th July 2005, 10:45   #15
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Slick writeup in your own unique style as usual Rudra. I think you are responsible for changing the mindset of many of us about the Optra.

Good to see that you have not faced any problems with the Optra. But then again you've only put on 7,500 km in 16 months! And I though I put less mileage on my car How was the service carried out? Any complaints on the dealership? What did you pay for your services or were they totally free?

Regarding your headlights, I believe you already have 100/90W bulbs right? Do you still feel them lacking? Problem here is it's hard to find H1's as most cars have H4 bulbs, so you are limited to a couple of choices.
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