This 7-seater Chevrolet is sporty but not a gas-guzzler, and is suitable for taking along a big family to the supermarket or on a holiday
Chevrolet is hoping that the Spin, the American auto-maker’s latest vehicle in its Thai portfolio, will be able to successfully break into the subcompact MPV market.
The Spin is made at General Motors’ new plant in Bekasi, Indonesia, and exported to the Philippines and Thailand, where it competes against the Toyota Avanza, Suzuki Ertigo and the Proton Exora.
According to Chevrolet, design work on the Spin took place in Brazil as a global model, although development work, including road testing, was carried out in Korea and South East Asia. This helped engineers bring into the picture preferences of customers in the region.
While pickup trucks and passenger cars make up the largest portion of the Thai automobile market, in Indonesia MPVs are the most popular type of vehicle, and this has convinced major auto-makers to use Asean’s most populated country as the manufacturing base for these people movers.
The Spin is imported duty-free thanks to the AFTA, and is priced at Bt762,000, which is pretty reasonable considering that it can accommodate seven people and comes with a good level of equipment. The front-end design is distinctively Chevrolet, with the large bowtie logo and dual-port front grille. The roof rails are useful and portray a sense of all-purposeness. Passengers enjoy theatre-style seats and large windows for good visibility, except for the third-row passengers due to the small C-pillar see-through area.
Meanwhile, the high belt line at the side of the Spin makes it looks bigger than it actually is. Not that the Spin lacks space inside. A six-footer like me has nothing to complain about in terms of headroom or legroom. In fact, I could even sit comfortably on the third-row seats, which are usually large enough just for children.
The driver gets a high driving position, resulting in great visibility, while the second- and third-row seats can be configured in different ways to suit your needs. In order to get into the third-row seats, you need to fold the backrest of the second seat and then lift the seat cushion up. The two-step mechanism is easy to operate and shouldn’t pose a problem. With the third-row seat up, there is just 162 litres of cargo space left, but it expands to as much as 864 litres when it is folded. With the second-row seats folded as well, you get a total of 1,608 litres of space. There is also as many as 32 storage spaces around the cabin.
The fascia is similar to the Sonic, comprising of a digital speedometer and analog rev counter, which is a sporty combination for a subcompact MPV. In fact, I feel that the Spin is sportier than it should be. The 1.5-litre 16-valve engine produces 107hp and 148Nm, which is normal. But the 6-speed automatic transmission does turn things around with its quick upshifts, while the engine note adds to the excitement. It’s always inviting you to step a little bit more on the throttle, always ready for the next upshift. The gearbox is intelligent too, offering downshifts while before entering a corner or when decelerating quickly. It is easy to forget that you’re driving an MPV when you’re having fun with the Spin.
The steering and suspension also adds to the driving fun, with the Euro setting proving beefy steering feel and sure-footed roadholding. There are stabilisers both front and rear, and the 15-inch alloy wheels are mated to 195/65 tyres.
Compared to the rest of the competition, the Spin does very well on the dynamic side, offering good stability on the highway and precise control during cornering. Despite its fun-to-drive character, the Spin isn’t a gas-guzzler, averaging about 10km/litre during my five-day encounter with it in all sorts of driving conditions.
In Thailand, the Spin is available in one trim only – the LTZ. This includes dual front airbags, seatbelts with pretensioners, ABS brakes, front and rear air-conditioning, roof rails, anti-theft alarm, a Follow-Me-Home safety function, an audio system with USB and Bluetooth streaming, and DC power outlets.
If you have a large family and less than a million to spend on a vehicle that can take everyone on a nice far-off holiday or just to the local supermarket, the Spin is one of the reasonably priced choices out there.
Chevrolet Spin LTZ
Engine: 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve with Double CVC
Bore and stroke: 74.7x84.7
Compression ratio: 10.2:1
Max power: 107hp.6,000rpm
Max torque: 148Nm/3,800rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Suspension (f/r): McPherson strut, stabiliser/torsion beam, stabiliser
Steering: powered rack and pinion
Turning circle: 10.8 metres
Brakes (f/r): vented disc/drum
Track (f/r): 1,503/1,509
Wheels: 15-in alloys
Fuel tank capacity: 50 litres
Distributor: Chevrolet Sales Thailand