Did you know that the people carrier concept was introduced over half a century ago?
In 1950 Volkswagen introduced its multi-seat Kombi vehicle and then a decade later Fiat introduced its own version. And there I was thinking that it was all down to Renault with its Espace in 1984.
The Espace is no longer but that hasn’t deterred other manufacturers from introducing their own take on this popular vehicle. But while many do the job admirably many lack style and character. It is this area in particular where Chevrolet, that famed and historic US car manufacturer, owned by General Motors, has sought to shake things up.
I don’t usually bat an eyelid at a people mover but as I take delivery of the Orlando it demands a second glance, so clearly Chevy has been successful. The curved brick shape is without doubt very appealing as you can see from the video at testdrives.biz. It’s like a modern day A-Team van.
Step inside and the black cabin is well appointed and comfortable; the dashboard, which slants at an angle towards the windscreen, has something of the future about it. An initial criticism is that the interior is very black although it feels hardwearing and well put together. The driver’s seat is like an armchair and comes complete with a folding armrest. There is a foot rest for the driver’s left foot, which is welcome, while all controls are close to hand and easy to operate.
Turn the ignition and the two-litre diesel unit is slightly audible from inside but when driving this is not noticeable. The six-speed gearbox is decisive. It becomes apparent that this vehicle, much like its driver, prefers clear roads as opposed to clogged up ones. At a crawl it prefers first gear to second where there is a feeling that it might stall. The diesel unit is gutsy and can be worked hard but then it does become vocal.
Unfortunately the test takes place when there are numerous flood warnings and the ensuing downfalls require frequent wiper and blower action. When turning the blowers to the medium setting they make an irritating whistling noise but turn them to a higher or lower setting and this disappears; this could be a glitch with the test car. The high up driving position is always welcome as it gives a commanding view of the road ahead allowing for forward planning when considering overtaking. Stuck at the lights and it is possible to see how waterlogged the fields are.
It will transport seven people in comfort and there is a cavernous boot when the third row of seats are down. Another surprise is that it has a tight turning circle.
Parkers, the car experts, say: “The Orlando is Chevrolet’s first ever MPV and it’s a competent offering. It’s a reasonably priced, spacious and practical people carrier that puts function over form. The design might not be to everyone’s tastes but one might consider that a trifling price to pay for a decent school-runner that won’t break the bank. The Orlando – the new kid of the MPV block, complete with a five-year/100,000-mile warranty and attractive ownership benefits.”
I agree with Parkers, a very good family proposition and more economical than cars half its size such as the Mazda 2 hatchback!
2.0 LT VCDI 5Dr 6Spd Manual
New price range: £17,600 - £25,165
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