By on October 1, 2010

Chevrolet just revealed its latest offering. It’s the all new Chevrolet Montana. It has changed a lot. The last Montana had as its underpinnings the Corsa II platform. Now, it will use the new Onyx platform, which is based on the Corsa I platform (according to Brazilian car mag Auto Esporte’s ). Two steps forward, one step back? Maybe that’s why GM is being coy (or realistic) and is estimating that this trucklet will increase its sales by just 15 percent. This won’t do it a whole lot of good, because this means it’ll just hang on to third place (according to the print version of the Brazilian newspaper Estado de Minas car supplement) .

Comparing to the last version (see pics here) and thanks to the Korean engineering, which is providing Brazilians with the Onyx family, the latest version has a much taller stance and a more imposing front. It is also noticeably bigger. In my opinion, the Onyx family’s face is much better looking on this car than on the Agile hatch (see video here). However, the fact that this platform is getting rather old (albeit modernized, no doubt) means this truck is not the greatest to drive (compromises, compromises). According to Auto Esporte and Estado de Minas, the front seems rather unbalanced at higher speeds. This could be well be a result of the elimination of the subframe present if the first Corsa. GM strived to remedy this by adding thickness to the front sway bar and toughening up the springs and bushings. As a journalist said at the event, “Not a very elegant solution”.

Anyway, GM will offer the truck in two versions. The base LS and the Sport. Both will come with just one engine choice. This engine is maybe the best thing in the truck. It has 1.4L and produces plenty of horsepower for such a small engine (97/102hp on Brazilian gasoline or ethanol). There are no miracles though. This maximum output is reached at a rather high 6,000rpm. Maximum torque is available at a pleasing 3,200 rpm (13.2/13.5 kgf). Top speed is a little low, at just 170km/h (106 mph). 0 to 100 km (0 to 62.5 mph) is over in 12.1 seconds. This is probably due to it being a little porky (at 1,152kg – 2,540 pounds). According to the journalist who wrote the report in the Estado de Minas newspaper (all numbers taken from that source, too), the most disappointing thing in the car is the ride. It doesn’t feel sophisticated. Plus, due to inadequate sound-proofing, all kinds of noises invade the cabin. You’ll also hear the car creaking and moaning over all but the most perfect asphalt.

Pricing: The base model is very basic. It comes with a seat with adjustable height and bumpers in the same color as the car, plus all the other things that make a car, well, a car, you know, five wheels, a steering wheel, glass in the windows, etc. All of this can be yours for R$31,900 (or at R$1.8=US$1; US$17,722). The Sport is quite a bit more expensive. It will be sold for R$44,040 (US$24,467). For that you get double airbags, ABS, air conditioning, power windows, locks and mirrors, 15 inch aluminum rims, hydraulic steering, trip computer, “go-fast” appendages, fog lights, factory radio with USB port, among other odds and ends. As Brazilians are very sensitive to price, GM estimates 70 percent of buyers will opt for the LS and 30 percent (they pray) will take the plunge and invest in the more expensive trim.

Brazilians love their mini trucks. Only here are such trucks offered in single, extended and even double cabs! Why is GM being so shy as to sales? When the Montana first came out, they confidently (but erroneously as it turned out) predicted they would fight for first place. This market segment is very important. According to respected Brazilian journalist Fernando Calmon, it represents 200,000 units per year, or 7 percent of the market. Here, players face stiff competition: The Fiat Strada controls 50 percent of the market. The VW Saveiro has about 30 percent. And the Montana comes in third at about 20 percent. Other players have all but given up. Renault went as far along in its plans as to begin pricing parts for a compact pickup (based on its Logan). However, it got cold feet and cancelled the truck’s production. The most important reason given was that it would be very difficult to break into a market so heavily dominated by  1 ½ makes.

GM, in Brazil at least, is no Renault. It’s four times bigger. Its new trucklet seems relatively well-priced. It’s bigger than the competitors (always important for those who think theirs is bigger than those of others). It can’t, however, match the Fiat in price. It also doesn’t really have the same prestige as Fiat and VeeDub have earned in the segment. Is GM being modest, honest or is it trying to pull wool over the market’s eyes? What do you think?

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8 Comments on “GM do Brasil’s New Mini Truck. Big Change, No Gain. Why Is GM So Shy?...”

  • avatar

    in the US and other markets like it there are no trucks smaller than say a Chevrolet Colorado/Ford Ranger and they want to get rid of those for an F-150 sized unit!

  • avatar

    I’d like to see a truck like this here. It has to be comfortable, though, and solidly-built but not 3/4 ton solid. Appears to be good on gas mpg, which is my bottom line. Make those rear mini-windows pop open! Put some bright window reveal trim on it to make it look sharp. Make the dash a bit flashier. I’m certain the after-market accessory manufacturers would have a field day with this!

    • 0 avatar

      Good ideas all.

      From what I read in the newspaper article, GM claims better than 9km/l (21 mpg) when running on ethanol in the city. Expect at least 30% better mileage when running just on gasoline. However, the reporter said that the truck trip computer informed a consumption of just 6,4km/l (15 mpg) while he had it. GM’s number seems off. Or the car still needed to be broken in. Or the rporter was a jerk.

      My experience with this engine though is that if you step on it, it’ll drink. Drive lightly and the mileage goes up. But the power is there when needed.

      My bet is that you’s want a similar car, but not this one. Maybe a Saveiro or Strada. From what I was able to understand of the newspaper article and from what others have written (I haven’t driven it), is that though its pleasing to look at, its betting the house just on that. Itss worse than the predecessor. I didn’t say as much ’cause I haven’t driven it yet.

      The whole Onyx family is turning into a deception. Looks are looks but the engineering was done with the aim to save for GM. Not to please the driver. I thibnk GM is betting the Brazilian consumer won’t notice. I’d bet differently. The Agile has sold nowhere what GM expected. This one will have good initial sales, but the it’ll taper off. And if its as bad as I’m reading, it could even lose sales for GM in the end.

      Cargo capacity is around 750 kg (1,653 pounds)

  • avatar

    I think… the previous Montana used the Corsa C or 3 underpinings.
    I’m not fond of the Agile looks. Hopefully you will keep that down there. That said this thing looks like a pegoste, pasticho or whatever equivalent word you have. I would bet it’s a major facelifting of the previous one. However I agree with you, the front end looks better here than in the Agile.

    • 0 avatar

      Hola Stingray!

      As to the platform, GM has made such a mess of this I think even they don’t know what platform they’re using! Of course, I’m joking, but the Onyx platform supposedly rides on the Corsa I platform, with some elements frm the Corsa II, while being at the same modernized by Daewoo. I and II refers to the Corsas in Brazil. I think its the second Opel Corsa. So they have taken that platform and messed with it. It doesn’t use the platform of Opel’s latest Corsas. We’re sitting is a time warp here. Stagnated in the early 90s.

      Don’t know about Venezuela, but GM is going to sell this car in Argentina (the previous Montana was not sold there, according to the newspaper credited in the article). So, hold your nose, it maight make its way to you soon.

      You don’t get the Agile? I thought the plan was to export it to all Latin American countries.

    • 0 avatar

      LULZ, if they have to import it no, we won’t see it anytime soon. If it’s produced in Argentina, there’s a chance. Or maybe Cristina sells them to Chavez too.
      Gladly we don’t get the Agile. We get the Aveo instead, the first one, no facelift, nada. Don’t you think is enough punishment?
      And honestly I don’t care anymore if they bring it or not (don’t take it personal, because it’s not). Next GM car I’ll buy will hopefully have a Lion in the grille and a proper engine (V8)
      I almost forgot, we get the Silverado (V8) and the LUV D-Max (V6) instead of the S-10 :-D

    • 0 avatar

      @ Stingray!

      You are so lucky! In terms of cars at least.

      So you won’t get it. Both Agile and Montana are produced in Brazil.

  • avatar

    Now this would suit my needs since the Ranger is dead!

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