Chevrolet gives Optra 2nd facelift

This is the new face of the Optra saloon, and the estate has received similar treatment as part of the car's second and final update before a all-new model is launched. The facelift is much more striking than the previous effort, which is mostly down to the fact that the headlamps are completely revised and the new two section grille separated by a thick horizontal beam bearing the Chevrolet badge.

This brings the Optra closer in appearance to its SUV sibling, the Captiva, and looks to be an improvement over the rather characterless face of the last Optra. Overall it seems to be an improvement.

Worth a look?

Apart from looks there is not much to write about on this update. The Engines remain unchanged which is a shame because both the 1.6 and 1.8 litre petrol options are underpowered with 107 hp and 121 hp respectively. This might sound reasonable, but neither of these Engines are at ease hauling the Optra chassis around.

To put things into perspective a little bit, the 1.5 litre VTEC engine in the Jazz/City puts 110 hp to the wheels, while the 1.5 VVTi motor in the Yaris/Vios manages 109. At 121 hp the 1.8 litre Chevrolet engine is also less than impressive when you put it against the 1.8 Civic.

One of the "selling points" of the Optra is it's Euro-Ride Suspension system. Apparently the suspension was tuned by Lotus in the UK, and this is the way Chevrolet sales people will explain the jarringly firm ride. Having spent over 20,000 km behind the wheel of an Optra over the last few years, I would prefer a more subtle ride and the Optra is a tad too harsh given the lack of quality surfaces here in Thailand.

Chevrolet, please understand that it is simply not sensible to tune the suspension of a car for billiard-table-smooth road surfaces found in Europe, and then expect that to be suitable for the thumping around the bumps on Thai roads.

If you do manage to find a nice stretch of road then the Optra is by no means bad. In fact the steering is precise and it feels sure footed, although at 110-120 km/h things tend to get a bit light up front.

The Optra does still have some niggles and drawbacks that make it hard to recommend it against safer options (Honda Civic and Toyota Altis). But if you are looking for a reasonably priced estate car, then you have nowhere else to look, and the Optra is okay.

2007 Chevrolet Optra update picture