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Set to blaze a trail?

SHAPUR KOTWAL
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It has the looks, the size, the passenger space, the power and the performance. It's Chevrolet's new SUV, the Trailblazer

An all-new SUV from the Chevrolet stable is on the cards for India. Called the Trailblazer, it is slated to compete with the likes of the Ford Endeavour and Toyota Fortuner in markets like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. This body-on-frame SUV could soon come to India if numbers and strategies align themselves. Based on the Colorado light truck platform and made in Thailand, GM is hoping to assemble the Trailblazer at its Halol facility, where it currently carries out all its CKD operations.

As can be seen from these very accurate illustrations, the Trailblazer looks quite attractive and has a purposeful stance. Part of a US$ 2-billion global programme, Chevrolet says this is the most clean-sheet truck it has designed in its 100-year history — and it shows. The stance is just right, it blends muscle and sophistication almost perfectly, and the LED and chrome detailing looks funky and fresh. A large, two-part Chevy grille dominates the raised cowl, there's a matching power dome on the hood and projector headlights, mounted high and wide, complete the full-sized truck look.

Penned in GM's South America Design Center in Sao Caetano do Sul, Brazil, the designers there say they were very conscious of sticking to a “body-in, wheels-out” stance. Also contributing to the sporty look is a rising beltline, dropping roof and a pillarless rear. Dual-finish — painted and polished — 20-inch wheels complete the package, lending a tough, unbreakable look to the SUV.

Forget the relatively cramped Fortuner, the Trailblazer is expected to have even more space on the inside than the Endeavour. The front of the cabin is wide enough for it to be classified a medium-sized truck in the US, the design of the dash is very car-like and the seats are spacious and comfortable, even by American standards. The Trailblazer will come with car-like features too, and Chevy vehemently claims that this is a proper seven seater. “It's an authentic third row where people can sit comfortably for long trips,” says director of design Matt Noone.

Under the skin, the Trailblazer gets a stout purpose-built ladder frame that helps it haul massive loads easily.

Smart features

Power comes from a choice of 2.8-litre, 180bhp or 2.5-litre, 150bhp diesel units. The larger 2.8 common-rail diesel makes a very strong 47.8 Kgm, incidentally 10kgm up on both the 3.0-litre Fortuner and Endeavour. It also uses a variable-geometry turbo, a balancer shaft for smooth running and smart features like a laminated-steel oil pan with an upper aluminium section. The latter gives you the best balance between engine rigidity and noise suppression and there are other similarly clever features as well. Chevy is likely to start off with its six-speed automatic too.

On paper, Chevrolet's Trailblazer, likely to be the first proper Chevy SUV in India, has everything it takes to be a winner. It has the butch looks, the size, the passenger space, the power and the performance Indian customers are likely to demand. And GM India, looking at its recent track record, is likely to get the pricing right as well.

SHAPUR KOTWAL

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