The Chevy SRV is coming to us like the perfect but late birthday gift. You are surprised to get one after you have ripped through the wrappers of everything else, yet it is sad because you know someone forgot your birthday in the first place. Still you love it because it is exactly what you’ve always wanted. Let me explain.
There was a time not so long ago when the enthusiast driver in India longed for a car with a modicum of performance. No, that breed was not looking for hyper exotics that they would never be able to afford, but a well built, sporty looking car that developed a minimum of 100 bhp (hello, 100 bhp on Indian roads is equivalent to 150 on European roads, trust me) is what they wanted. Some solace came in the form of the Honda City VTEC – it had the engine and the go but lacked looks and everything else. The Fiat Palio 1.6 GTX promised a lot and satisfied those who committed – but then Fiat had its share of worries in India. Sure there were more powerful cars, but they weighed an additional tonne and had far too many zeroes in their price tags.
Right when this breed decided to bury their hopes and buy another Honda City VTEC (again 100 bhp, you see) or worse still, settle for a red Swift (it is kind of er... sporty), comes the Chevy SRV. Alright, it is a fastback based on the Optra, but who cares – it looks right. Just right.
It actually looks like a design study submitted by Italdesign to Alfa Romeo and rejected by the Milanese firm because it smiled too much. The front end treatment is very ‘90s Chevrolet, but the rear-three quarters and even the profile owe it to sporty front-wheel driven Alfas of late. Especially the tapering rear taillamps.
So you may argue that it is the hatchback version of the Optra. But it is a ‘proper car’ in the traditional definition of things. The new generation Daewoo Nubira which resides under its skin was designed and developed with European customers in mind. And it feels like a loosely built Opel rather than a tightly built Suzuki.
Inside, the familiar Optra settings have been made better by the use of faux aluminium accents and a sportier overall theme. Open the door, sit inside, run your fingers over the steering and dash, and the SRV feels robust and ready. In other words, it is not the silky and refined perception of the Honda City nor the oh-so-functional and clinical approach of the Swift that you get. Instead what you get is a car that you want to thrash from the word go. And yes, though I am not the most talented to comment on music systems, I can tell you that the SRV is the ideal car for you to chuck the rear seats and load it to the brim with sub-woofers. And when you play Led Zep loud, its panels won’t join the chorus with vibrations for sure.