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Old 11th November 2012, 23:27   #1
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Default Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review

…from the man who sold his iVTEC and bought Optra LT; Clocked 24,000 KMs in 15 months!

The fact that I sold my iVTEC Automatic Exclusive within 6 months (and <12,000 kms on odo) only to buy an Optra Magnum might raise more eyebrows than Skoda’s new pricing strategy – after all, sales figures definitely suggest so. Hence, this ownership report is an attempt to explain how the Optra meets my preferences better than other cars in this segment, and a few problems I would wish Chevy to take care of.

Note: Chances are that you never spent more than 30 mins with their Organic Chemistry books (and hence wary of reading anything with >400 words on a page/screen), so towards the later part of the post I have illustrated my experiences through pictures. (You might find it as easy to comprehend as ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ by Beatrix Potter)

October 2010:
My Santro was 50,000 kms young, without an issue. We accomplished several 1000 km+ trips with it problem free. However, as we prepared to welcome a new member in our family, wifey declared she needs more comfortable and spacious seats now (blame the “temporary” adipose tissues). My parents joined in – “A sedan is also safer for the long drives you keep going to”. Hidden was their mild disappointment over a few instances (actually more than a few) when they vaguely came to know my current location by the language my mobile operator announced my inability to take the call while I was driving.

The thought of upgrading a car is always welcomed by petrolheads, started with the series of test drives and shortlisted VW Vento. The ‘leaner’ half did participate in the test drive passively; she was neutral about the car and decided to go with my decision… UNTIL we test drove Honda City iVTEC
An urban titanium iVTEC Automatic was home within 10 days from date of booking, thanks to the courteous and prompt Dakshin Honda SE. For an additional 70K, we got ourselves the Exclusive version (with an Exclusive badge on the back, nice leather interiors and a few splashes of chrome around the car). Woo hoo…!!!! (Sorry VW)

April 2011:
The car completed 12,000 Kms (including some trips from the East Coast to Western Coast of peninsular India). As much as I loved the comfort of AT, reliability of Honda, ergonomics of plush interiors, there was something niggling. All the highway drives proved (on more than one occasion) why this car is called “CITY” – I think the name is a giveaway and I would suggest every prospective Honda owner to keep expectations in that vicinity. Don’t get me wrong though – I loved the car in city limits, but outside it just wasn’t confidence inspiring at triple digit speeds. You tend to question the stability and braking ability then.

By May 2011, the iVTEC ownership was transferred to a fellow TBHPian. Back to my Santro!! 

June 2011:
The craving (and requirement) for another sedan was made clear by all members in the family. However, this time priorities were in a different order – Diesel, Driving Dynamics, AT (good to have), Safety (Airbags, ABS must), other creature comforts for long drives and last but most important quick delivery.

Wouldn’t be too hard for you to guess why some of the obvious choices were ruled out

- Hyundai Verna (poor dynamics, 7 months waiting)

- VW Vento (6 months waiting, service standards unknown, experience with sister co. Skoda’s service just made us more suspicious)

- Skoda Laura was into a different budget band altogether, plus service experience from Skoda for the more expensive Superb made it clear (my father has one, hence my experience is first hand).

- Ford Fiesta (now called Classic) came closer to requirements however absence of creature comforts just made its interior look like a slightly spacious Santro.

Incidentally, there is a Chevrolet dealership right next to Ford’s in Bangalore – decided to check out the Cruze. Was blown away with the looks and feature list, and mentally working out how could I afford one when I sat inside the car. And booooohhhhhh…. Ghastly interiors – a sea of grey, made even more claustrophobic by lack of rear legroom and head room were an instant kill joy. Knew within a millisecond there is no way that my better half (still “temporarily” rich in adipose tissues) would approve of this. I still wonder – for a car this big, where has all the space gone??

Parked next to it was a Sand drift grey Optra, decided to give it a try and ended up booking it. As on date, I have completed 24000 KMs with the machine and below is a quick summary of my experience –

Things I like:

• Spacious no-nonsense sedan, sufficient leg room, wide range of seat adjustments including height adjustment, lumbar support, steering tilt, hand rest (front and rear), Climate Control

• Safety features like ABS, 2 airbags present

• Interiors – even though very plainly laid out, leather upholstery, 6 CD changer with AUX input suffice the requirement without giving any joy of the STAR TREK experience

• Test drove for about 10 kms in the city (with some open roads after traffic opens up at a traffic signal) – the surge past 1800 rpm was phenomenal and put a grin on my face. Sealed the deal for me that instant if you ask. Remembered an auto magazine quoting – Cracker of a Diesel Unit, and gave an mental nod

• The ride was pretty compliant too – better than City's, Verna's, though a notch lower than Skodas. Comparable (or slightly better) than Vento, if you ask me.

• Steering feel is just right for me – neither too tight in city, nor too light on highways.

• Tried the back seat and was pleasantly surprised – the suspension setting combined with space made it a good place to be in, for long and short drives alike

• Super noise insulation inside the cabin from engine, wind and tyre noise… You can shout ‘I love you’ form the inside (on phone... and get a good dinner) without bringing a wry smile on two wheeler next to you at a traffic signal.

• Two 12 V charging points is a good move, as I need to charge my phone and/or IPOD as well GPS device

• Overall, a Value-For-Money Package, especially with the ongoing discounts


Things that could be better

• The dashboard color (some shade of brown – grey) reflects on the windscreen hampering visibility. A darker, non-shiny surface would have been better. Notice the reflections of hot air vents and clock unit on wind screen. On sunny afternoons, its worse than what picture suggests.

Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review-img00247201211111223.jpg

• MID lacks Distance to empty, Current / Avg Fuel Economy

• The silica grey screens of trip meter and MID with black LED (like the old calculators) is not readable at all during day time, unless you switch on the lights. Wish they provided green lit LEDs (like the digital clock on HU) everywhere. (the odo reading shows how long I have been working on this review)
Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review-1.jpg

• Modern options like bluetooth connectivity, Steering mounted controls, cruise control etc are missing, offered by competition though.

• Although a 6 CD changer and AUX input won’t leave you in despair, USB port would be a welcome addition too - how much does a USB port cost to the manufacturer anyway

• The HU layout could be better – doesn’t look like it’s been designed around any theme, even if it was, the theme doesn’t reflect anywhere else in the car

• Tacky wood finish inside can be replaced by piano black finish or brushed aluminum to complement the steering wheel

• The petrol version comes with a sunroof – would be good to have it in diesel too (at least optional), even though its largely useless in Indian climate

Now let the pictures do the talking… I will continue to translate it in text for you though

1. Clean body lines. The car on a whole still looks a generation or two older - No wonder the elders in my family find it good looking. Personally I prefer clean straight lines of Europeans over Fluidic designs of Koreans. This car is acceptably between the two extremes, in my opinion.

Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review-img00253201211111226.jpg
Chrome strips on the side add character to otherwise plain side profile. The car is huge compared to any other in this segment. Thankfully the big size does translate into spacious interiors (unlike Cruze). However, a long wheelbase means that despite adequate GC, you might brush off the underbelly at a few nasty humps when fully loaded.

2. Front is not probably the most photogenic - Chrome lined grill, in line with Chevrolet’s design philosophy seen on all Chevy cars now.
Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review-img00257201211111228.jpg

Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review-img00252201211111226.jpg

3. Rear view is probably better than other views; tail lamps are clear, reverse lights powerful enough. There is a reverse fog light too…

Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review-img00251201211111225.jpg

Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review-img00254201211111227.jpg

4. 195/R15/60 Apollo stock tyres will do the job. I am planning to upgrade it soon though

Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review-img00259201211111229.jpg

5. One of the best things about this car – a torquey 2.0 L TCDI engine producing 120 BHP / 315 Nm torque@ 1850 rpm. 0 – 100 takes about 10 seconds. Pretty refined too – let it lubricate by running on idle for a min before flooring (just a best practice) and it won’t complain

6. Steering Wheel, clad with soft, nice-to-hold leather, provides sufficient feedback at all speeds. Aptly weighted to keep the fun factor alive without making it a workout for nimble handed. Lack of mounted audio controls is missed though. Notice the horn buttons on two sides of the wheel spokes, still find it difficult to use while turning

7. HU layout is most uninspiring, tacky wood finish is an unsuccessful attempt to liven things up. The color of dashboard top should be looked into, as it causes major reflection on front windscreen.

Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review-img00249201211111224.jpg


8. Gear stick is nice to hold and looks nice too. Got nice little throws which is comfortable and smooth at all speeds. Chevrolet could have carried out this theme of black and aluminum on the dashboards too, instead of the tacky wood and ugly stereo

Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review-img00250201211111225.jpg

9. Two 12V sockets in front to charge your phone and IPOD at the same time while GPS Navigation device is charging up

10. The front glove box has a knob through which you can control cool air from AC into the glove box. Will keep your chocolates from melting, though not sufficient to keep your beverage cans chilled

11. Not much storage on door pockets, no place to keep bottles. Notice the leather lining around hand rests

Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review-img00265201211111233.jpg

12. Seats get a wide range of adjustment including front-back traverse, height adjust, recline adjust, and lumbar support. I find them adequately comfortable; they don’t snug you though while bending around the corners. Leather quality is acceptable.

Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review-img00262201211111231.jpg

13. Rear legroom adequate for six footers in any condition. Middle hump is not very obtrusive, hence 5th passenger won’t complain. Rear passengers do not get an AC vent though. Shown in pic below is the driver seat adjusted to 5’10” in a relaxed driving position.

Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review-img00264201211111232.jpg

14. Illuminated Boot is spacious (405 Liter) and adequate for a weekend getaway for family of 4, easily accessible with a low lip line for loading / unloading

15. Rear seats fold in 60:40 ratio (with the press of a button) to accommodate the extra luggage in lieu of third or fourth passenger

Smaller yet Significant things

Fuel Economy (for 2.0 L Diesel) – 10 in city (Bangalore’s B2B traffic) and 15+ on highways

• Experience with Chevrolet after-sale Service is satisfactory – not as good as Honda or Toyota but better than Tata, Mahindra, Ford and definitely better than Skoda. No complains so far – technicians are polite and knowledgeable at all service centers I have been to in Bangalore (P.S. - I have found Trident Chevrolet to be much better in quality of service provided compared to Kropex or Sundaram)

• Stock headlamps are not bright enough and need to be changed. The fog lamps do a fairly good job though.

• Two Trip meters to measure the mileage on a highway ride without losing the measure of door-to-door distance

• Key comes with a boot opener so you don’t have to open the car, pull lever to open boot when you are coming out of a baby shop with hands full

• Steering tilt has a wide range to suit all heights and driver preferences

• Clutch pedal is pretty light and easy to use unlike the Cruze which has a strong kick back or Vento’s which vibrates with the engine clatter

• 24,000 kms of Indian roads, no squeaks or rattling sound from anywhere

• Didn’t expect the features typically available in a segment higher – cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, electric adjusted ORVM, heated / ventilated seats, auto headlamp, cornering lamps, DRLs, headlamp washers etc, but omission of steering mounted audio controls and USB is an opportunity missed.

• A full size alloy wheel as spare, along with the necessary tool kit

• Doors do not auto lock after attaining a certain speed threshold (don’t know if this can be configured). It can be manually locked though.

To sum it up, I believe this is a strong contender for the best car available in <12 Lakh segment... If you can come to terms with its dated looks that is. As a VFM, I think its absolutely spot on. Why GM isnt planning to upgrade and make this a better looking car - I can think of only one reason, it WILL cannibalize Cruze sales !!!
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Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review-img00226201210101741.jpg  

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Old 12th November 2012, 15:55   #2
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Default Re: Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Ownership Forum. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 12th November 2012, 16:28   #3
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Default Re: Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review

@ vidyabhushan: Very nicely written review. You seemed to have a clear idea of your priorities when you bought the Optra.

You are right, not many people will appreciate why you sold a proven Japanese petrol car and put your money down for an under-rated American/Korean diesel car. Now, you can just ask them to read your review to shut them up!

BTW, can you turn off the passenger airbag in your car? The reason I'm asking is I can see a child sitting in a child/booster seat in the front. No offense intended.
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Old 12th November 2012, 17:42   #4
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Default Re: Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review

Congratulations vidyabhushan. And its a great review as well .

According to me, nothing beats the Optra when it comes to VFM. The competitors may have a snazzier exterior and interiors filled to the brim with gadgetry, however simple and clean designs have a charm of their own.

And I completely agree with you, the stock HU really pulls down the interior. Please change it to something better.

P.S. Is it just me or are some pics not visible ? Such as that of the steering wheel and the engine. Or have you not uploaded them .
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Old 12th November 2012, 20:20   #5
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Congrats on the rocket. Very very realistic ownership view. People should do this kind of ground work before they buy any car.

Could you provide the price break up with discounts?
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Old 12th November 2012, 22:31   #6
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Default Re: Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review

A very detailed unbiased review, Optra just like UVA is an under-rated car in its segment. It is sad to see the car being discontinued by GM, thanks again for the detailed review.
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Old 13th November 2012, 22:11   #7
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Default Re: Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review

Many a Congratulations on owning the BEAST !!

The guys who land up buying the Optra, I think, buy it straight from the heart.

Sadly though now the Optra has been discontinued, it is not there on the Chevy Website, this car was sheer VFM, I got one in Oct 11 for 8.65L OTR, heck the Swift ZDi in Bangalore costs about 8.3~8.4 OTR.

Vidya, remember stick to 5K intervals with Mobil Delvac MX for an oil change.

Do let the engine warm up in the mornings before you step on the gas and let it idle for a couple of minutes before the closure of play for the day.

Wishing you many a Happy Miles with her.

Happy Motoring !!
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Old 13th November 2012, 23:33   #8
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Default Re: Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review

Nice review of an extinct car. Is your BS4 or BS3?
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Old 14th November 2012, 09:33   #9
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Default Re: Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ford5 View Post
Is your BS4 or BS3?
How do you expect a BS3 car being sold in a Tier 1 city, June/July 2011?
The BS4 regulations were implemented across the Tier 1 cities in April of 2010.

But to add to it, the BS3 Optra was way more FTD than the BS4.
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Old 14th November 2012, 10:30   #10
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Default Re: Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review

A very very loveable car Optra. I too own one since Feb 2011 and simply love the turbo kick it gives beyond 1900 rpm.

The brute power of this car does surprise many, and as said by you is fairly spacious as well. Wifey does not like to ride in this car as she doesnt like the tacky wood finish interiors nor does she like the dated exterior looks.

USB port & Steering mounted controls is what i miss sorely on this car. Use this car for highway drives only for its sheer power, daily drive city car is now an Sx4 Diesel.

Was very sad when Chevrolet discontinued this car, I would still suggest anyone who can get this car for the reliability & pure VFM it offers. Though this car is strictly not for those people who love gadgets and frills.

Chevrolet service as mentioned by you is pretty acceptable too, i own a spark as well as an Optra myself too and it definitely is very acceptable !!

Good luck with your Optra !! Wish you many happy miles in your workhorse !!
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Old 14th November 2012, 18:57   #11
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Default Re: Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by Torquedo View Post
How do you expect a BS3 car being sold in a Tier 1 city, June/July 2011?
This is how. You go to a Tier II city and pick up a BS3 car & deal with the dealer to register it in a Tier I city.

Besides if you belong to bangalore, you would have known , that RTO's 04 yeshwanthpur & 05 are considered out of city limits where we can register a BS3 even to date.

My colleagues BS3 pajero was registered in Yeshwantpur 3 months ago. The so called BS4 restrictions are not followed strictly in my city. .
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Old 14th November 2012, 21:37   #12
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Default Re: Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ford5 View Post
This is how. You go to a Tier II city and pick up a BS3 car & deal with the dealer to register it in a Tier I city.
I'll repeat in what I said - I said "SOLD" in a Tier 1 city not picking it up from a Tier 2/3, these workarounds have been prevalent for ages now

Let's go beyond the BS 3 & 4 tussle and wish Bhushan many a Happy Miles with the BEAST

Cheers.
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Old 15th November 2012, 16:38   #13
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Default Re: Chevrolet Optra Magnum 2.0 Diesel - 24,000 kms Ownership Review

Thanks all for your kind words and inputs. Apologies for late response - Diwali vacations hangover.

Coloneljasi: Unlike some of the European cars, Optra doesn’t come with an option to turn off the front airbags. The kid is in front only while the car’s stationary, to keep her happy; when moving child seat goes to the rear.

Enigmatic: This is my first review report, so excuse the missing pics  Here is one of the steering wheel, which shows two square buttons on the spokes, when the wheel’s turned, sometimes finding the spokes with horn buttons requires you to take eyes off the road and locate it ‘visually’. Plus thumb press horns don’t come to you naturally...
Name:  chevroletoptramagnumsteeringwheel.jpg
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Swiftnfurious: I guess we are too late to ask this question since Chevrolet has discontinued this model. However, I got it in 10.9 Lakhs OTR in Bangalore (incl registration, tax, insurance and few dealership provided extras) in June 2011. At that time Kropex got me the best deal.

Deehunk: Its sad and good in a way, we now enjoy ‘exclusivity’ in some form now. Plus, not very concerned with GM’s service (spares included) considering how several Opels are still running on Indian roads. Although resale value will suffer, it wasn’t my priority at all.

Torquedo: Thanks for the inputs mate...

Prodigyy: thanks mate. Gadgets are not that skimpy either – AUX i/p, 6 CD changer, climate control are something you can live with. Features like Bluetooth can be after-fitted. Features like cruise control, steering mounted controls etc aren’t something for which I would trade driving dynamics or service reliability (hence Verna and Vento lost the battle to Optra).
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