By on January 23, 2015


A Captiva audience?

Aside from the car-less world of cruise/train travel, my post-CCS Design vacations involve seeing an American on the road only to feel their styling and (more importantly) proportioning are sleeker and prettier. Douchey perhaps, but it’s my benign contribution to American Exceptionalism.

Even if this “proper” Chevy is a German Opel (sold alongside many a Korean Daewoo) introduced in Frankfurt as the Antara GTC.  Harley Earl may spin in his perfectly-proportioned grave…but I digress.


Few Americans shall admit a speck of admiration for the Chevrolet Captiva SUV, but the similarly-Korean Cruze is a respectable machine to most.  Well, colossal DLO fail at both corners notwithstanding. No matter, its suitably upscale: Chevrolet Brasil offers it as their most premium sedan offering. (At R$75,020)

Strangely, the Cruze 5-door hatch is cheaper (R$71,860) than the sedan: usually it’s the other way in the US. Known as the Cross Sport 6, the Cruze Hatchback looks the business against the usual Brazilian subcompact. Here’s one driving past the scenic Vista Chinesa.


While I have little complimentary to say of Chevrolet’s split plane grille, this Chevrolet Onix wears the face quite well.  Sure, the upper half needs to grow a good 1-2″ to meet the hood’s cut-line. Or better still, drop the cut-line instead. But the look is catchy, nicely proportioned on this small canvas.

Chevrolet Brasil made a fetching machine, but this white one in Leblon was kinda rare. And that’s the problem:


(photo courtesy:

Chevys, at least in Rio, are heavy in fleet distributions.  Rio is nearly as taxi-centric as Manhattan, but the market wasn’t dominated by something Crown Victoria-esque. There’s Renault, Fiat and Citroen hacks too, so perhaps the Bowtie-branded Daewoos sporting that unique yellow/blue stripe paint scheme are a red herring.

And perhaps there’s no such thing as American Exceptionalism in car design. Not anymore, at least.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a lovely weekend.

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13 Comments on “Vellum Venom Vignette: The Brazil Vacation, Part II...”

  • avatar

    The Captiva sold in Brazil is actually the Opel-based one, which was sold as Saturn Vue in the USA. The Korean one (same platform, but that´s about it) is not sold in Brazil.

    • 0 avatar

      Wow, did I ever mess that one up. Amended, thank you.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s actually all the exact same vehicle, with only minor differences in equipment and badging:

        Despite some opinions, it’s a pretty nice vehicle. Opel decided however to only sell the 5 seater version, as they already sell the Zafira as a 7 seater. Strange decision, as the Chevy version is sold as a 7 seater standard, over here. Buyers beware of the diesel, it has a few design flaws. The diesel engine is a VM Motori, which is a well reputed engine builder, but this one had a few issues. I test drove one of these a few years back (yes, a second hand) and it was nice. But that’s just me. No dynamic driving, very smooth and comfortable. Just right for manager types. And me.

    • 0 avatar

      BTW, did you know the (US) Chevrolet Equinox is also based on this platform? I rented one a few years back when I was vacationing in the US, and I liked it a lot. Smooth, nice equipment, nice looking.

      *Disclaimer: I am youropean. We grew up with penalty boxes. No equipment, not even auto trannies as an option. In our traffic. Go figure.

  • avatar

    Why can’t we have that Cruze hatch in the US…?

  • avatar

    What’s that sweet little Fit-sized CUV behind the Captiva in the first photo?

    • 0 avatar

      Opel Meriva. Elderly people like them.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks, servaas. I’m sort of elderly and I really like the very cab-forward and large greenhouse.

        • 0 avatar

          I can see why you like it…even though its a bit over the top in terms of glass. Then again, more glass is better these days.

          • 0 avatar

            Actually, I sought out online photos and comparos of the Mireva and it appears to be a pretty deliberate clone/competitor of the Fit.

            The latest iteration even has an Odyssey-style kink at the bottom of the B-pillar. That seems pretty silly no matter which vehicle uses it.

            If I didn’t live north of the Great Frost Divide a Fit/Mireva would be my ideal car but I prefer something a bit higher riding with larger wheels.

  • avatar

    Here’s where that split grille falls on its face.

    Just plain wrong.

    • 0 avatar

      Ditto with the Spark facelift and apparently the next-gen Cruze. Why is Chevy insisting with a grille that only works in USA for their global products is beyond me. It’s even more baffling considering their USA-only products like the Impala don’t have that fail grille.

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