Launchpad: GM re-engineers the Enjoy for India to come up with a compact MPV. Shapur Kotwal gets behind the wheel
The Indian car market today is bursting at the seams with every segment crowded with multiple products from numerous carmakers. And in this competitive scenario, it’s rather hard to find that sweet spot.
Chevy’s new offering, the Enjoy, is a compact MPV built on a monocoque chassis and is going up against Maruti’s Ertiga. This seven seater comes powered by smaller capacity motors and with prices expected to start at Rs. 5.6 lakh, this could give the company the edge it needs to conquer this segment.
For an MPV, the Enjoy looks pleasant enough. But remember it still is a people mover. The profile is typically boxy MPV. There are some interesting details. There’s an attractive swage line that runs off the bottom of the grille, past the headlights and onto the side of the car in a single sweep. The prominent ‘V’ in the bonnet looks smart and the line that runs from the front wheel arch to the rear breaks up the mass of the body nicely. The back of the Enjoy, however, is large and very boxy. Those 14-inch wheels are also a bit too small for the bulky body, even the much shorter Ertiga has 15s.
The Enjoy stands apart from most other MPVs of its class in that it is built on a lighter and more space-efficient car-like monocoque chassis. Unlike a typical monocoque however, the Enjoy also uses an integrated ladder-type frame between the wheels to help strengthen that portion. And there are tough subframes for the front and rear suspension too. The Enjoy also differs from the hatchback-based Ertiga in that it has its engines placed longitudinally and, more importantly, that it sends power to the rear wheels.
The Enjoy has a high roof, which means more vertical space. So, for roominess and comfort on the first two rows, the Enjoy is really impressive. Slipping into the seats after opening the big doors is easy — they are almost at the perfect height. Once inside, leg- and head-room on both rows is plentiful. Both the Enjoys we drove, petrol and diesel, were top-end models and had captain seats for the second row, so levels of comfort are really high in both cases. We also found that the third row was surprisingly useable. The second row seats don’t flip forward, so you need to crouch and walk past the second row to access the rearmost seats. But comfort levels on the third row are in fact not too far from many of the larger MPVs.
The ambience inside the cabin isn’t too bad either. It’s light and airy and visibility from all seats is good. The design of the two-tone dash is old-fashioned on the one hand, but appears neat and uniform. The levels of fit and finish however are less than striking. You are surrounded by hard plastics. There aren’t too many really useful cubbyholes either. The door pockets are shallow and the pair of cup holders can only hold small cans, not bottles of water. With the third-row bench flipped forward, luggage space is quite sufficient though, and loading luggage onto the low floor is easy too. Equipment levels are a bit disappointing. There’s no Bluetooth, no climate control, the music system is a mere single-DIN unit and the driver does not even get a dead pedal, though the latter could be down to a lack of space in the footwell.
The Enjoy, known as the Wuling Huanggong in China, comes only with a petrol motor. For India, GM and Chevrolet flipped a Fiat Multijet engine by 90 degrees and send power to the rear wheels.
The motor settles into a smooth idle as soon as you start up, with only a bit of vibration coming off the floor. The engine feels eager and willing to rev as soon as you take off. On the Enjoy, it feels like you are on boost from 1600rpm onwards, which means upping the pace at a moment’s notice is quite effortless. The reconfigured motor pulls well till approximately 4000rpm, after which power tails off. However, with only 73bhp and 1345kg to push, acceleration isn’t too strong; it takes a leisurely 21.36 seconds to 100 as compared to the Ertiga’s 14.2. The Enjoy however feels much quicker in the real world.
The gearbox has a light action and gears slot in easily, but the long throws and loose feel give the impression that you’re driving a car with 1,00,000km on the clock.
The only major irritant is the considerable amount of lash and vibration you get from the propeller shaft at around 1200rpm when you get off the throttle. This can be a bit disconcerting, especially if you are driving in constant start-stop traffic, but GM says a solution to the problem is coming soon.
The 1400cc petrol that powers the Enjoy makes a much healthier 104bhp. The motor has a reasonably strong and responsive top end, and as a result, flat-out acceleration is quick. It gets from 0-100 in 14.8 seconds as compared to Maruti’s 1.4 K-series-equipped Ertiga, which is slightly quicker at 13.5 seconds to a hundred. But it isn’t performance that’s the issue with the China-sourced engine. This engine suffers because it is both unrefined and not very responsive at low speeds.
An area where the Enjoy does impress however is ride and handling. The suspension setup is pretty soft and so bump absorption is quite good. Low-speed ride is particularly cushy and the suspension also works pretty noiselessly over rough patches. This makes it feel quite refined and comfortable.
The steering is nice and light if not very responsive, so manoeuvring through traffic is quite easy.
What really works in Chevrolet’s favour is the competitive price tag.
We expect prices to start from Rs. 5.5 lakh for the petrol and Rs. 6.9 lakh for the diesel.