As far as popularity goes, the Chevrolet Utility remains one of the most sought-after new bakkies on the market
During the first six months of 2013, Chevrolet managed to sell more than 2,5 million new vehicles around the world, which represented a 1,4% increase over the same period last year, contributing to the American brand’s 11th straight economic quarter of increased unit sales. In South Africa the brand continues to enjoy unparalleled success in the sub-1-ton LCV segment with its Utility pick-up, which continues to retail in excess of a thousand units per month thanks to its now legendary reputation for durability and relative affordability.
Off the back of the success of the popular Opel Corsa Utility, Chevrolet managed to capture the local market as it evolved the model from the Corsa Utility into the Chevrolet Utility nameplate a few years ago, laying the foundations for what has become a sales icon in the sub-1-ton pick-up market.
The key factor in the success of the Chevrolet Utility is the fact that it sets new benchmarks for the class in terms of interior space and comfort, style, features and load carrying ability, as the latest generation models can carry between 733kg and 763kg depending on the engine powering it.
For those that prefer gasoline power, GMSA’s tried and tested 1,4-litre and 1,8-litre engines have been retained to duty in the latest lineup. Both engines feature single overhead camshafts and produce 68kW at 6 000rpm and 77kW at 5 400rpm respectively, with maximum torque of 120N.m at 3 200rpm for the 1,4-litre engine and 161N.m at 3 000rpm for the 1,8-litre unit.
All engines are mated to five-speed manual gearboxes as standard. Last year the company also introduced a diesel powered derivative to line-up, doing away with its naturally aspirated 1,7-litre compression-igni- tion unit and opting to add its latestgeneration 1,3-litre turbocharged engine to the line-up.
Featuring common-rail fuel-injection, a turbocharger with electronically controlled variable-vane boost control, twin overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder, the Chevrolet Utility diesel derivatives are blessed with 55kW of maximum power at 4 000rpm and a peak torque output of 170Nm between 1 750 and 2 500rpm.
Despite its beefy performance, Chevrolet claims that its diesel-powered Utility will consume ultra-low sulphur (50ppm) diesel at a respectable 5,5 litres/100km in a combined cycle. “Within the sub-one ton light commercial vehicle segment there is a well-defined sub-segment for vehicle operators that prefer diesel power,” said Malcolm Gauld, GMSA’s vice president of sales and marketing at the launch of the diesel Utility a few months ago.
“The introduction of diesel powered variants to our new Chevrolet Utility range gives us access to that market with a latest technology small diesel engine,” he added. With global trends dictating that automotive engine technology is leaning towards small-capacity engines that embody advances in turbocharger and fuel injection technology for a new breed of high-efficiency engines, the 1,3-litre diesel engine chosen for the Chevrolet Utility is a prime example of the benefits of downsizing.
“With an engine capacity of just 76% of the size of the diesel engine of the previous model, it offers comparable performance with improved economy,” concluded Gauld. Prices start at R127 900 for the Base 1,4-litre model and extend to R203 800 for the range-topping dieselpowered Sport model, while all models come with a five-year/120 000km mechanical warranty as standard too.