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Old 5th September 2011, 17:11   #1
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Default Taking over the road - My New Chevrolet Optra Magnum LT 2.0


When I bought my first car, Maruti 800 DX, way back in 2000 I promised myself that I would upgrade to the next level every 3 years / 50000 kms and did that with my next 2 purchases - sold the 800 in 2003, bought Zen Di, sold in 2006 and bought Baleno Vxi. Ideally I should have bought a new car in 2009 but a property purchase upset my plans. Since then I was looking to buy a new car and was waiting for the right time. The petrol prices started shooting northwards and I decided to go back to Diesel car and being a Maruti fan I was waiting for a new Diesel vehicle from Maruti - hoping they would launch SX4 Diesel with a powerful engine and new features.

Meanwhile my friend CtrlAltDel, a TBHPian, introduced me to T-BHP. Initial few weeks I was a passive reader but realised T-BHP is the place to be if one is interested in automobiles. Then the Volkswagen Vento was launched and GTO wrote that amazing review.

Soon I became a member of T-BHP and was reading every review to update myself on the latest in the automobile world and also learn about cars.

My finances fell in place in March 2011 and I saved enough to buy my next car. I decided not to sell the Baleno which i maintained very well and moreover my wife liked that car a lot and she anyway needed one for herself.

The finalising process:

My requirement was a car with a price tag of around 12 lakhs OTR, Diesel (ANHC was the only petrol option I would consider), spacious, powerful, reliable and ACC was a must-have feature.

After reading GTO's review and also the initial Vento ownership reviews I was convinced Vento Highline TDi will be my next car. Took a test drive and liked it. A friend of mine bought a Vento and I took it for a long test drive and liked the solidity. The waiting period quoted was around 4-6 months but that was not a problem for me. That is where my handle 'NoRules' came in and with a little help from my bureaucrat friends, I could have taken delivery within a week of taking a final decision. Couple of years ago when the waiting period for Swift DZire Vdi was over 6 months, I got the delivery on the same day I booked the car for a family member.

While most of the customers were chasing the dealers for delivery of Vento, in my case it was the dealer asking me when I wanted to take the car.

By then Maruti launched SX4 diesel with the 1.3 litre engine and I booked Zdi Leather variant even before the TD car was available. The test drive was a little disappointing, lack of outright power especially. They did not change one bit from the earlier petrol version except for the engine. Cancelled my booking immediately after the TD.

During one of my conversations with CtrlAltDel he asked me to take a look at Chevrolet Optra Magnum. 'It is a fantastic car being sold at a very low price' he said.

I took a test drive and was totally bowled. Except for the 'old' looking interiors and the Chevy tag it was a Torpedo on the roads.The 'thud' of the doors, the power, the space, the grand looks - I loved it all. It took me a little while to convince myself to go for Optra instead of Vento as Vento was already being raved about by every owner on T-BHP.

In the mean time in the month of March 2011 I was at Gurgaon for a meeting and met my class mate who is at a senior level in Ford marketing and I was discussing my dilemma of choosing between Vento and Optra with him. He in turn pitched in his product and asked me to wait till the new Ford Fiesta was launched and to check it out before I took a final call. He also promised to allot me the first car at Hyderabad. As the new FF was expected to be launched in June / July I did not mind the 3 month wait. My friend kept me updated about the time line of launch. Once the car was launched I went to the showroom to check it out and was disappointed with the elbow room in the rear and also the price tag - OTR 12.19 lakhs for Titanium diesel.

I was also closely following the ownership threads of Vento and Magnum on T-BHP. All the Vento owners were very happy with their cars and barring a couple even Optra owners were totally satisfied with their car. I spoke to few friends / acquaintances who own Optra Magnum and got positive reports from every one of them. General advise of friends and well wishers (who neither owned the car nor drove it) was not to go for GM and I was warned about the poor A.S.S. and resale value.

Then Poitive started his 'Choosing a spacious diesel' thread which very soon became a Optra centric thread and there was lot of discussion on the pros and cons of owning Optra Magnum. Some members were critical about it and some were totally passionate about it. Major concerns expressed were the car being discontinued and poor resale value. I spoke to a Chevy mechanic while he was at at Halol GM factory for a fortnight long training program and interacted with the big wigs of production and asked him to specifically find out whether they intend to discontinue the model and he was told GM did not have any plans of shelving the model. I was planning to buy the car in the month of August and since I had time on hand I also started looking for a pre-owned post-2008 LT Magnum and wanted to assess the resale value myself. It was very difficult to find one. Most of the cars on market were 2007 models and they were being sold at 5.25 to 6.25 lakhs depending on the ODO reading. Towards the end of my search I came across couple of 2008 models where price quoted was between 5.5 lakhs to 6.5 lakhs but at that time LT model did not have ACC feature. After discussing with my family, I decided to go for a new one. The conclusion I came to was not many Optra owners sell their car within 3-4 years of buying it, the resale price is not as poor as perceived.

Another Magnum enthusiast, keyur, started his ownership thread and his experience about the Magnum helped me a lot in taking a final decision. I spoke to Keyur several times on phone and took lot of inputs / feedback.

During my search for a new car I have considered and TDed Vento, SX4 Diesel, Corolla Altis - D, Chevy Cruze and Chevy Optra. Checked out the NFF and ANHC and finally decided to go for Optra Magnum. For some reason Fiat Linea and ANHV never were in contention. Nothing against these beautiful cars but I guess after the Optra TD I probably blanked them out.

Thanks CtrlAltDel for pointing me in the direction of Optra Magnum; Keyur, Poitive, Highflyer, drive or die, MAS, Optimist, Visweshkalambur, Torquedo, radiokidb, SLK, prabhuferrari, khoj, Jakku, deep-shri, brraj, oxyzen and several other T-BHPians for sharing your views and helping me decide. T-BHP rocks.

TD / showroom visit impressions (The following are purely my personal opinions):

Vento: Excellent car. Enjoyed the test drive. OTR of Highline TDi was initially 11.11L but I was told it was revised upwards by 25k. Did not like the central arm rest, the IRVM and was not particular about the Volkswagen brand. If Vento were cheaper than Optra, I would have definitely gone for the Vento.

SX4 D: Comes from the trusted Maruti brand, reliable and available A.S.S, OTR was 10.78 for Zdi Leather variant. Was disappointed with the lack of power and the same old looks of petrol SX4. The car just did not give the 10+ lakhs feel.

Corolla Altis - D: Thought it was expensive for the 1.4L engine though it comes from the trusted Toyota brand. OTR of top end version was in excess of 13 lakhs.

Chevy Cruze: My kids and wife loved the car, esp the shape, interiors, gadgets. The only time I sat in a car, ever, which went beyond 200 kmph speed was during the TD of Cruze and it blew me away but the price difference between the Optra and Cruze LTZ Auto was more than 5 lakhs. Did not want to spend in excess of 16 lakhs on a car. Sadly had to reject the idea. However my wife extracted her pound of flesh by demanding 20% of the savings over Cruze. Aah well. She is after all the Griha Mantri and her order has to be complied with.

New Ford Fiesta: Liked the looks, gadgets and the stable drive reviewers mentioned but totally disliked the rear space, that ugly rear arm rest hinges, price and the 1.5L engine.

ANHC: Lovely looking car, excellent A.S.S. reputation but even the AT did not have ACC and it was a petrol car. At the time I visited the showroom the OTR of MT top end variant was 11.11L, exactly same as Vento TDi Highline at that time.

Optra Magnum: Loved the car - power, space, safety features. It had all the must-have features. Instantly disliked the HU and the old looking dash but I am not really a music buff and thought I could change the HU with a Caska or Pioneer / Sony.

Fluence was another looker on the market but the poorly equipped Diesel variant did not even have climate control and did not justify price above Cruze.

In the end it was a toss up between Vento and Optra and I decided to go for the Optra because I was getting a C+ segment car with 2.0L engine at a cost less than almost all C segment cars and I thought it was the most VFM deal.

Booking & delivery experience:

Once I decided to go for Optra Magnum LT I visited the nearest Chevy dealership, Orange Auto, Banjara Hills. I took a quote from them and next day I also took a quote from KUN Chevrolet, Kavadiguda. Also started discussing the colour options with my wife and children. I wanted RED, wife wanted BLACK and we finally settled for Sandrift Grey. T-BHPian mobike008 offered to help me get a good deal from KUN Chevy and gave me the contact details of the SE he dealt with earlier and put in a word to him. Within couple of days I finalised the deal. The SE I dealt with was Kishore. Very helpful and straight forward.

Thanks Avi for all the help.

On-road price, discounts:

The OTR price quoted originally was 11.03 lakhs with mats, mud flaps and teflon coating as freebies. I negotiated with Orange and KUN and got the final quote of Rs.10.63 lakhs with mats, mud flaps, teflon coatng and body cover as freebies from KUN. Total discount was 40k.
Sandrift Grey was not readily available. I paid Rs.20,000.00 as a booking amount on 3rd August and was promised delivery within 2 weeks. I told Kishore I would prefer to take the delivery on 14th August which was Rakhi Pournami. As promised, the car was ready for delivery on 14th afternoon. Went to the showroom with my wife and children and took the delivery at 4 PM. Did the pooja at Khairatabad temple the same evening and on 16th went to Yadagirigutta for another pooja.

Overall experience with KUN was good.

My kids with the new car outside KUN showroom:

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The model I chose was LT and the tech specs are:

Engine & Gearbox:
Cylinder count - 4
Volume (cm3) - 1991
Max Power (PS) 121
Torque (Nm) 314
Kerb Weight (kg) 1370

The LT model has all the features I need. ABS, Airbags, power steering, power windows, central locking, remote boot opening feature, electrically adjustable ORVMs, driver's arm rest, rear arm rest, ACC, 6-CD changer audio system, rear defogger, cooled glove box, Co-driver under seat tray, sun glass holder and some more.

So far I have completed 1675 kms and the experience has been very very good. The car has a solid feel to it. The 'thud' sound when you close the door is confidence inspiring. When you start the engine it makes a low growl, just love that. The NVH levels are well managed and the cabin remains very quiet. Might not be as good as the NFF but definitely quiet. The gears slot well.

I drive a minimum of 24 kms every day and average 30-40 kms daily in the Hyderabad city traffic. In the city there is a turbo lag felt but so far as you are in right gear, it is not much of a problem. Once it crosses 1800-2000 RPM mark, the road is yours to rule. The ground clearance is pretty good too. So far I have not scraped the under belly even once. But the front bumper is very low and I already scraped the bottom couple of times. One has to be very careful when there is a steep incline on the road / ramp and also when there is a sudden dip on a bad road or a speed breaker.

Overtaking is a breeze. The basic characteristic of this car is that it is nice and sedate on busy roads and a beast when you want it to be. You ask it and it delivers. There is loads of power and you will get tired of pushing the pedal but the Magnum will not. On the city roads this car will definitely feel claustrophobic. Give it open roads, it will come to life and take off like a rocket.

It takes the good and the bad roads with same confidence. Due to the rains I had to drive over some poor roads and even a 3 km stretch of very bad rural mud road and the Magnum held its composure. I did not loose confidence taking the curves and bends on NH 7 at speeds of 120+. Infact couple of not-so steep curves I tested at speeds over 140 and did it with ease - something I never imagined doing in my Baleno. There is hardly any body roll. At high speeds the car is firmly planted and gives one confidence to drive. I am not an aggressive driver but just to test it I went upto 170 kmph on open stretches and it never made me feel less confident. Full marks to Optra Magnum.

Optra Magnum is no yuppy-looker like the ANHC, Fluence or NFF but I love the old school sedan look. Gives it a regal bearing with clean lines. The panel gaps are consistent and even. The chrome door handles, the beading on the doors add to the grand feeling. The ORVMs with indicators further adds to the good looks.

Exterior Pics - Pardon the low quality of the pics. Took them with my N-8 and I had to resize them to reduce the file size:

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Last edited by NoRules : 7th September 2011 at 15:04.
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Old 6th September 2011, 13:30   #2
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Default Re: The Torpedo on road - My Chevrolet Optra Magnum

Of the 1675 kms I have driven, 900 odd kms was in the city and 700+ on the highway. The highway drive on the NH 44 (erstwhile NH 7) was awesome. This car just loves the open roads. So far I have driven at less than 3k RPM and only a few times on the highway I briefly went beyond 3k RPM. While the city driving was at 50-80 KMPH on the highway it was mostly 100-140 range and the max speed I touched was 170 kmph couple of times.

I am yet to get the first reassurance service done as I was traveling last week. Booked a slot for tomorrow morning. The FE I got in the city was around 10-11 kmpl (this with being stuck in a traffic jam with AC on for 2 hours) and on the highway it was 13.5 kmpl. Expect this to go up after the 5k service.

The interiors of the Magnum are top notch. LT model comes with leather seats and they look / feel rich though I expect them to get soiled soon, esp the driver's seat. Need to get them cleaned / shampooed every few months.

The seats are very spacious and the rear bench is like a sofa. Both the arm rests are very useful and convenient. However the spacious driver's seat is a little inconvenient to my small frame (I am 5'5") in the city but on the long drive it was very useful as I could adjust my seating posture once a while. I wish it was a little more snug.

Some pics of interiors:

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The headlights / indicators / wiper stalks are left hand oriented but getting used to them is not at all difficult for me as i have driven a Logan for couple of years.

All the controls are within reach and convenient. There is a resting place next to the clutch pedal and it is a boon on highway drives.

There are lot of cubby holes / storage spaces. Front arm rest comes with a small space, there is another space on the right hand side of the steering wheel. water bottle can be kept near the front arm rest (I wish this was in the door as it is a little inconvenient when you rest the arm on the arm rest), rear door has small space (guess it is for keeping the mobile phone), glove box has a cooled area for keeping medicines / small soft drink bottles, there is another space for keeping mobiles below the ACC, rear arm rest comes with cup holders and there is a co-driver under seat tray to keep the car documents - pretty cool. A sun glass holder is placed near the driver's head. While it is convenient, I wish it was little bigger as my Oakleys do not fit in the holder correctly.

Some pics of the storage spaces:

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The boot is pretty big and can accommodate 2 international travel size bags comfortably.

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The ACC is very good and cools the cabin quickly. You can close the individual AC vents if you wish. However I have an issue with the ACC. In the city I prefer to keep the AC on auto mode and keep the air circulate internally to avoid bad smells and the fumes whereas on the highway I prefer the fresh air re-circulation. But the ACC has a mind of its own and keeps switching between internal and external circulation based on its own logic. Wonder if I am doing anything wrong. Below are pics taken within few mins of each other and the ACC switches between internal and external:

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Last edited by NoRules : 6th September 2011 at 16:37.
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Old 6th September 2011, 14:04   #3
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Default Re: The Torpedo on road - My Chevrolet Optra Magnum

Some more pics of the interiors / controls:

The power windows, central locking and window lock:

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The ORVM controls:

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The steering wheel:

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The AC Vent:

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The foot-rest (dead pedal?) next to clutch pedal:

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The clutch, brake and accelerator pedals:

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The HU:

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The horn pads:

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Front cabin light:

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Rear cabin light:
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Last edited by NoRules : 6th September 2011 at 14:54.
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Old 6th September 2011, 14:29   #4
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Default Re: The Torpedo on road - My Chevrolet Optra Magnum


1. The power - The surge is exhilarating and the power in unending. Keep asking and it will keep responding till you are tired.
2. Braking - The brakes are very good and while I am yet to come across a situation where they are tested in extreme so far my experience has been very good.
3. Steering - It has a solid yet light feel to it. You know where exactly you are with this steering.
4. The space - It is very comfortable and the rear can seat 4 adults without great difficulty. It has a sofa like feel. Since I will be hiring a driver soon this a major plus for me and has been one of the deciding factors.
5. Ingress and egress - No problems at all.
6. The looks and the chrome detailing - Solid, clean and regal. The chrome on the sides gives it a rich look.
7. The color - Sandrift grey makes this car look even better.
8. The audio system - My first reaction when I saw the HU was 'yuck' but once I started playing some music, I realized the overall quality of the audio system is very good and the HU - once you get used to it, is not bad at all. I dropped my plan of upgrading to Caska / Pioneer / Sony and am sticking to the stock HU.
9. The FM reception - Normally when I go to my village I noticed the reception of FM stations gets cut off after 50-60 kms on the highway but on the same route and with the same FM station I could get clear reception beyond 125 kms in the Magnum. For people who traveled on NH 7 from Hyderabad towards Nirmal: earlier the reception used to go off somewhere between Toopran / Chegunta whereas in this car I was listening to Radio Mirchi beyond Kamareddy, almost upto Dichpally.
10. The driver's arm rest - Very convenient and useful.
11. The dead pedal - Another convenience on long drives.


1. The bottle holder - It interferes with the arm rest. Wish it was in the door.
2. The spacious driver's seat - For tall and big people it might be convenient but for my 5'5" frame it is a little inconvenient in the city but the same seat is very comfortable on long drives. While I wish the seat was more snug, I can live with it.
3. The faux-wood - Did not really like it.
4. Turbo lag - There definitely is turbo lag and unless you down shift it takes a little time to get to 1800 RPM. Beyond 1800 RPM it is a different story all together.
5. The horn pads - I feel they are flimsy and have a feeling they will get torn off within couple of years.
6. The ACC - Did not understand the logic on which the ACC works. When I keep it in auto mode if I want to keep the air circulation internal then I should be able to do it. It has its own logic. Something I need to clarify when i visit the service centre.
7. The sun glass holder - Should have been a little bigger.

Last edited by NoRules : 6th September 2011 at 16:44.
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Old 6th September 2011, 14:52   #5
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Default Re: The Torpedo on road - My Chevrolet Optra Magnum

A.S.S experience so far:

The car has been trouble free so far except for one incident which happened on 31st August. At that time I had done 750 odd kms and was planning on a visit to my village 250 kms from Hyderabad on 1st September. I called up the service centre to book a slot for the first check up on 31st but I was told that on account of EID and Ganesh Chaturthi the service centre will be closed on 31st and 1st. I took my car to my preferred Maruti service centre on 31st morning and my friend there checked up all the oils / guages etc and gave a go-ahead to the 600+ kms trip. I came to office to finish some pending work and on the way stopped to have a cup of tea.

I parked the car on the side of the road, had a cutting chai and then started towards my office when I suddenly heard a tiny noise and felt the steering wheel go stiff. With great difficulty I turned into my lane and parked near my office. I just did not understand what happened. I immediately called my Maruti A.S.S. friend and he asked me to open the bonnet and check the fluid level of the power steering. I was shocked to see oil spilt all over the engine bay and the power steering fluid container was totally empty. This, after getting everything checked only 30 mins earlier.

I remembered all those perceptions / advise of people about the GM unreliability.

I remembered it was a holiday and panicked. On advise of Maruti A.S.S friend I called up the 24*7 help line of General Motors. The lady at the other end of the phone was courteous and helpful and gave me the mobile number of General Manager - Service of the local dealership whom I called right away. He asked me about the problem / symptoms and in turn gave me another number to call - of the 24*7 on-road service engineer. Before I called the service engineer, the GM - service already informed his service engineer to expect my call. When I called the service engineer he told me he was at the other end of the city and would come as soon as possible.By then it started raining heavily and I was imagining all sorts of worst possible scenarios.

Meanwhile I walked back to the place where I parked the car earlier to investigate and noticed there was a pipe protruding from the ground (It looked like an earth pipe) and I realized the tiny noise I heard earlier was the power steering fluid pipe hitting that rod. I also noticed the puddle of the oil at the parking area near my office, floating in the rain water.

I called up T-BHPian Keyur who helped me in calming down. The service engineer reached my office within an hour and immediately diagnosed the problem as the pipe coming off at the joint on hitting the rod, refitted the pipe and refilled the power steering fluid / oil. It took him less than 10 minutes.

On asking whether I need to sign any paper or make any payment he just took a pic of my temporary registration number on his mobile and with a friendly wave of hand he left. I called the Gen. Mgr and thanked him for helping me out and also called Keyur who was anxiously waiting to know what the problem was.

This incident and the response of General Motors at all levels on a public holiday (Call centre, General manager - Service, Service Engineer) gave me lot of confidence about my choice of car.

Am taking the car for 1st check up tomorrow morning. Will update this thread once I am done with the servicing.

Last edited by NoRules : 7th September 2011 at 15:01.
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Old 6th September 2011, 16:52   #6
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Default Re: The Torpedo on road - My Chevrolet Optra Magnum

Mods done, planned:

At the time of delivery I got the door sills installed at the showroom itself. Costed me 1100/- bucks.

I have got the registration done on 2nd September and will now go in for sun control film. Other than this I have not planned any mods in near future.
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Old 7th September 2011, 16:33   #7
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Default Re: Taking over the road - My New Chevrolet Optra Magnum LT 2.0

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Initial ownership forum. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 7th September 2011, 16:59   #8
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Default Re: Taking over the road - My New Chevrolet Optra Magnum LT 2.0

Hi Norules,

All th best for your ride. Happy mile crunching. And it is reassuring to hear good A** stories from manufacturers. It instills our confidence in them.Btw, any issue with the GC of the Magnum?
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Old 7th September 2011, 17:17   #9
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Default Re: Taking over the road - My New Chevrolet Optra Magnum LT 2.0

Originally Posted by adg_andy View Post
Hi Norules,

All th best for your ride. Happy mile crunching. And it is reassuring to hear good A** stories from manufacturers. It instills our confidence in them.Btw, any issue with the GC of the Magnum?
Thanks adg_andy

So far no issues with GC. Couple of speed breakers where my Baleno hits the bottom the Optra has not. It is the front bumper which I have to be careful about.
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Old 7th September 2011, 17:24   #10
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Default Re: Taking over the road - My New Chevrolet Optra Magnum LT 2.0

Congratulations, NoRules !!!

Optra Magnum is definately VFM in that price range. GM does need to redo the interiors a bit and make a bit modern and can market it for a some more years to come.

I feel the earlier Alloys were much better than the current ones, that's the only damper on Optra Magnum apart from the outdated dash.

Enjoy the car and Drive Safely !!!

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Old 7th September 2011, 17:33   #11
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Default Re: Taking over the road - My New Chevrolet Optra Magnum LT 2.0

Congratulations for your new Chevy. It looks great. Optra Magnum is an awesome piece of machine,though highly under-rated. Your review is very detailed and very informative.
Enjoy your ride. Best wishes.
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Old 7th September 2011, 17:56   #12
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Congratulations. Wish you many happy miles with your new car. Good to see the responsive nature of GM and your experience. Have lots of fun and please keep updating the thread on a regular basis.
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Old 7th September 2011, 19:01   #13
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Default Re: The Torpedo on road - My Chevrolet Optra Magnum

Originally Posted by NoRules View Post
The foot-rest (dead pedal?) next to clutch pedal:
Congratulations on the car! Frankly, this is first time I am seeing a dead pedal-manual transmission combination. Interesting and a very good idea for long drives.
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Old 7th September 2011, 19:52   #14
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Default Re: Taking over the road - My New Chevrolet Optra Magnum LT 2.0

Congratulations on getting the Chevy Optra.

Very Nice review and pictures, rating five stars.

I see quite a few reviews on Optra here on team-bhp in recent times.

Wishing you happy and safe driving!
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Old 7th September 2011, 20:19   #15
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Smile Re: Taking over the road - My New Chevrolet Optra Magnum LT 2.0


Congrats on the Magnum, the colour looks royal on the car. Nics pics too. Great review. I could imagine the dilema you were going through before finalizing the Magnum after Test driving so many cars. Looks like you made a great choice finally.

Happy mile crunching and drive safely.
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