Chevrolet comes up trumps with the Orlando – a lot of car for your money
It may not be seventh heaven, but the Chevrolet Orlando has plenty of room and lots of things going for it, says Frederic Manby.
SETTING: The Camshaft Arms, an early Spring night, and many are gathered at the Smallbore Bar. The usual crowd.
“What’s that bus y’re driving?” said the aeronautics chap.
It wasn’t a question but a mirthful barb about the shape of the Chevrolet Orlando being tested by yours truly.
The Orlando is the first South Korean car that actually looks like it could be an American Chevrolet as we knew them.
A bus? When I heard that indictment I could see his point. The front is bluff, with the big yellow heraldic badge, and the body is similarly bold. Inside, it seats up to seven people, with the rear pair of chairs not too cramped for a smallish adult (yours truly again).
My demonstrator was the top-notch LTZ trim, with the 163ps, 2-litre diesel and a sixspeed automatic gearbox, of which some praise later. Price: £21,195.
The Orlando catalogue opens at £16,395 for the fivespeed, 141ps, 1.8 petrol LS model.
I am having one of those “ps days” because most manufacturers quote ps, the European power rating, rather than the proper, imperial bhp rating used in Britain and in North America. The ps rating is a bigger figure and so looks more powerful. Divide by 1.014 to get brake horse power. Thus 141ps equals 139bhp. There is an equivalent relationship between newton metres and lb ft of torque ratings.
Back to the Orlando – presumably named in praise of the Florida entertainment capital; surely not the petfood brand? This entry model is quoted with figures of 38.7 miles a gallon, 172g/km of carbon dioxide and a 062mph time of 11.2 seconds. For someone not obsessed with mpg, it fits the bill nicely, bus or not.
The same LS trim is available with a 130ps, 2-litre diesel, at £17,645. This has six gears and records 47.1mpg, 159g/km and a 0-62mph of 9.9 seconds, thanks to its gearing and higher torque.
The LTZ automatic comes with the more powerful 16.7bhp version of the 2-litre diesel. Its vital stats are 40.4mpg, 186g/km CO2 (meaning higher road tax and company car levies) and 062mph in 10.6 seconds.
Putting its less than lovely appearance on to the back burner (who can say what looks good, and at least it is not over-styled. I cite Mazda’s CX-7) the Orlando has some points of moot criticism. The test car was equipped with leather seats but still had that new-car smell of plastics or other synthetics. A bit of leather polish would have enhanced the experience.
The somewhat lumpish (in my opinion) exterior is backed up by poor rear suspension refinement on what they’d call “ornery” roads in bluecollar America. There was also some vibration through the steering.
Now the better bits. There is stacks of headroom. The motor and gearbox work together smoothly and felt just as good as, say, a BMW X3. The optional navigation guided me faultlessly through London, with a choice of fast, short or eco routes. A flip-up front on the audio set reveals the auxiliary ports, with storage under the flap for your usb or iPod – out of sight, too.
At a steady 70 on the motorway, the engine tachometer showed just 1,500 rpm and the mpg read out was in the mid-40s. Drop the cruise control to 60mph, and the economy improved to 50mpg. On a weekend in London, it averaged 22mpg. Back in the sticks, it gave mpg in the mid-30s.
Verdict: A lot of car for the money and this diesel motor is a gem.
Length: 183 inches/4.6m. Warranty: 100,000 miles or five years. Weight as tested: 1659kg. Braked towing weight: 1500kg.
More: 0845 1111 999.
WATCH THIS SPACE: The Orlando.