Thursday, June 13, 2013

Used Car Review - Chevrolet Optra Sedan (2004-2009)

Another choice out there students, Myk Belmonte is giving out a second choice for your sedan shopping list.

2004-2009 Chevrolet Optra

Nearly a year ago, I was able to feature the wagon version of the Optra but with a request coming from Facebook, let's evaluate the sedan version of the Optra which might be an attractive proposition for students due to the cheap acquisition price.

Fact, the Chevrolet Optra (or known as the Daewoo Lacetti) is a Korean car with an American name. Similar to a Korean who acquired American residency, this is not new in the car industry by the practice of selling cars in multiple names. Since everything applied in this paragraph had been written in the wagon review, lets proceed.

With General Motors Automobiles Philippines expanding the Chevrolet line-up, the Optra was added in late 2003. This directly replaced the forgettable Cassia (itself a sedan version of the Suzuki Esteem) discontinued a few months back. While it sold well in the beginning, various quality problems as well as new yet equally superior competitors took a toll to the Optra's sales. Even with discounts and promos, this didn't sway people to the car. 2010 saw the Cruze replacing this vehicle and were not even wiping either. Available trim levels include the base L, LS, LT (only with the 1.8), and the sports kit clad SS.

Value and Costs
Students on a budget can get a Chevrolet Optra between P200,000-P300,000, which is somewhat a newer model compared to the Civic I had featured days ago. However, other popular rivals (read: Japanese and Ford) of the same time are similarly priced in which be careful on deciding before going with the Optra.

The current Chevrolet distributor does a good job on stocking basic parts, but other components entail a waiting time. Common problems include the ECU (Electronic Control Unit), which was to believed the cause of the lower than expected fuel efficiency and must be reprogrammed and some mechanical and electrical parts.

Exterior and Interior
With some designing help from Pininfarina, the Optra possess some clean styling that you'll say this is more European than Korean. In fact this is shorter than some direct rivals from Japan, maintaining a distinct styling. Facelifts had been done in 2006 (which makes do with a single piece grille) and 2008 (this one has chrome tacked on it).

The buyer is the winner in the Optra, as it has a bucket load of amenities that come in its low price. Controls are placed where the driver can reach it and tons of storage bins come standard. Since interior space is a big deal for the student who is the barkada's transportation provider, four can fit comfortably while five is a squeeze and the bags can be placed in the capacious trunk.

Among the two engines made locally available, the E-TEC II 1,598cc is the most popular with 110hp at 5,800rpm and 150Nm at 4,000rpm. Briefly sold, there is a E-DTEC II 1,799cc which has 115hp at 5,800rpm and 156Nm at 3,500rpm. Between the two, go for the 1.6 since you'll encounter this one more and this one provides decent acceleration. It is noisy at start but it will pacify itself when put in motion and driven under 3,000rpm. The 1.8 has more power but the slight difference makes the 1.6 a convincing buy.

Driving Impressions
Being behind the wheel is a mixed bag. This wants to be driven in the highway smoothly but high speed turns (which is dangerous, by the way) isn't the Optra's habitat. Getting the manual would result to a easy to modulate clutch but a notchy gear stick, the automatic is smooth and responsive. Steering and handling is balanced although it lacks some feedback.

Bargains are hard to ignore for students, but lower prices does not equate to the word sulit. The Chevrolet Optra has a low price, but is it sulit? Well, as a daily car you might just like it but you'll be longing for a popular brand.

The Good: 
  • Cheap
  • Feature loaded
  • Decent styling
The Bad:
  • Gulps gas than the competition
  • Problematic
  • Nothing spectacular
The Pick: 1.6 LS

Engines: 1,598cc E-TEC II I4 and 1,799 E-DTEC  I4 gasoline
Power: 110hp @ 5,800rpm (1.6), 115hp @ 5,800rpm (1.8)
Torque: 150Nm @ 4,000rpm (1.6), 156Nm @ 3,500rpm (1.8)
Fuel Consumption: 6-9km/L (city), 8-11km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear independent multi-link strut

Price (New): P585,000-P899,000
Price (Now): P200,000-P300,000
Rivals: Toyota Corolla Altis, Honda Civic, Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan Sentra, Ford Lynx, Ford Focus
On Sale: Late 2003-2009

Chevrolet Pasig - (02) 672-1485
Chevrolet Quezon Avenue - (02) 374-1250

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