GM's Brazilian Spin: Dog Of An Engine Devours Any Desire To Buy
GM do Brasil has been on a roll recently. While the early 00s saw GM running hard to get nowhere, the new decade has brought on some good news for the embattled, tired, old General. They are proving, at least in Brazil, that they still have some cartridges to burn.
To wit, the all-new, brand-new, super-new, ok, enough with all the new. A minivan: The Spin. Cool name, though somehow its significance will be lost on most Brazilians. The Spin seats 5 or 7, and in our tax-break-fueled-heated-up market, it’s sure to become a hot one. Don’t worry, be happy and buy now. Following the trail burned by our beloved technocrats in Brasília, Brazilians, and soon I’m sure, many hermanos, will be able to take the latest and the greatest from Detroit via São Caetano do Sul for, well, a spin. That is, if you have roughly 22 thousand greenbacks in your pocket, considering that now the dollar begets about 2 of our reais.
Seating 5 in LT trim and 7 in LTZ guise, the Spin sits on a version of GM’s new global small car platform. In this iteration, it stretches out to its maximum limits. It is that most rare of things, an honest to God new car. For our American friends up North, the Spin, which is, underneath, a version of the highly-praised Brazilian Cobalt, is a bigger twin of the Sonic. They are platform siblings.
In LT (hat tip to Brazilian enthusiast site bestcars.com.br for all preceding and following info) guise, the Chevy Spin comes with OEM hydraulic power steering, A/C, ABS and EDS brakes, double frontal airbags, power windows and locks, and driver-seat and steering height adjustment. Of course, you can obtain other goodies, but you’ll pay more (through the nose) to get it. The LTZ adds, for about 4 thousand more dollars, a third row of seats, car computer, parking sensors, and radio controls mounted on the steering wheel. In this market segment, an automatic is slowly becoming a must and the General doesn’t disappoint. For about 2,500 dollars you can add a 6-speed auto. If you decide to keep that money for yourself and spend it on better things, the van comes with a 5-speed manual.
What disappoints immensely is Chevy’s ignoble decision to straddle this all new, otherwise attractive beast, with its ancient 1.8 liter motor. Derived from an engine in production in Brazil from at least the 80s, and, of course, modernized over time, it can’t hide the fact that it’s like eons old. Proof of that is that it has just 2 valves per cylinder and puts out a paltry 107 hp. Not to mention its thirst. GM builds in Brazil a good 1.8 16v that develops 120 horses, is present in the Cruze and is exported in Brazilian-made GM cars to our neighbors. Why did GM choose to saddle us with this dog? It boggles the mind, and it takes out enough of the car to make the Nissan Livina, among others, a much better choice.
Summing-up: Global new car architecture. Mechanics conceived and developed before I was born. Epic short-sightedness. In a word, fail. Don’t buy now. Force GM to put a real engine in this car.
The new GM do Brasil. So much promise, so much hubris.
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Things aren't as simple as they seem though. Since most GM models built on Argentina and Brazil use only the old 1.4 from the Monza and 1.8 Powertrain engines, with the only exceptions being both CKD built (Sonic and Cruze), it seems they still haven't gotten around to "nationalize" the new engines.
Yeah, it's unattractive and yeah, it's got a coarse engine that was obsolete in 1985. But you know what? It has something appealing, and something that's sorely lacking in new vehicles. It's simple and straightforward. Year after year, I keep hoping that some manufacturer will come out with something that's simple, attractive, desirable and affordable. Even with all of the equipment that's mandated by regulations, I'm still convinced it could be done. And perhaps even sold in numbers that would generate economies of scale and make a profit possible.