It is trying to be Chevrolet's volume seller in the Middle East, but we have trouble spotting an Optra on the streets even though the car has been on the market for some time now. On paper at least, this car seems to have what it takes to go head-on with the opposition. Positioned in the lower compact segment, the Optra offers good value for money, selling in 4-door sedan, 5-door hatchback and 5-door station wagon trims. Styled by Italians but barely showing it, the styling can best be described as interesting without being ambitious. The cabin is basic, but there are lots of storage spaces and space for five adults. Engine options include a 1.6-litre or a 1.8-litre four-cylinder unit. These are combined with a five-speed manual or four-speed auto transmission transmitting juice to the front wheels. While both engines have enough grunt for the segment, they fall short of leaders like the top Civic and Corolla models. Ride and handling are quite good, and bodes well for the Optra. All we ask for are better engines.
Some early reports of faulty fuel gauge. Early models prone to blowing various light bulbs prematurely. Clutch master cylinder in manual models should be fixed under warranty in pre-2005 models. Some random reports of oil leaks, engine failure, automatic gearbox jerkiness and electrical faults, but not everyone has same problems.