SPIN. That’s what Chevrolet’s new model is called, and it doesn’t require much thinking to figure out that this is the carmaker’s clever, well, spin on the multipurpose vehicle genre.
It’s Chevrolet’s rendition of the affordable, compact MPV, to be precise, or a vehicle that mixes the ride quality and size of a car, the utility of a small sport-ute and the seven-seat aspirations of a minivan. So it tries to be a bit of everything, all within a package that isn’t much longer than a regular station wagon and at a price within cross-shopping range of a compact car. Oh, and it gets some attention from Chevrolet’s styling department too, wearing pieces that recall those from the brand’s Trailblazer SUV.
Seems like a quite a stretch? Chevrolet is confident the Spin manages to pull this one off, and so the Thailand-based, Asean offices of the carmaker recently previewed the car in a drive from downtown Bangkok to Rayong and back. That covered some 400 kilometers of city traffic, expressway blasts and bits of winding country lanes. It was a taste of how a typical Spin owner might use the car, Chevrolet asserted. You know, that lifestyle of weekday city-bound slog punctuated by quick trips to the beach when the weekend comes.
“It is equally at home with various activities, ranging from shopping trips and school-runs to long-distance cross-country driving,” Chevrolet’s prose regarding the Spin contended.
Going for a spin
The Spins demoed in Thailand were the gasoline-fed, 1.5-liter, top-spec variants, but in all likelihood the car that will arrive locally—according to Chevrolet Phils. chief, lawyer Albert Arcilla—are diesel 1.3-liter versions with a choice of a new-gen six-speed automatic transmission. Now while there may be a difference in acceleration and cruising ability between the two power plants, the Spins’ ride, seating and cargo-hauling appetite, and cabins are the same. Even their looks are identical. That makes the whole Thai road trip experience relevant, especially considering that the temperature, traffic and asphalt there is similar to Manila’s and nearby destinations.
So how’s the Spin when you take it out for a spin?
It’s mindlessly easy to drive, thanks to dimensions (about the same as a Toyota Avanza’s, to which it may compete with segment-wise, if not necessarily customer-profile-wise) that isn’t intimidating at all, even in a place where cars’ steering wheels are on other side. You sit high in the driver’s perch, too, and so combined with large windows all around there’s good visibility in every direction. On the Thai highways the car cruises at 100kph to 120kph with the engine relaxed enough while the transmission swaps cogs imperceptibly. Noise entering the cabin—caused by tires, wind and other vehicles—is comparable to that in any modern car.
The part where the Spin trumps its ilk is over on the twisty stuff, and a lot of the credit here goes to its steering feel. The Spin, surprising for a compact MPV, has ideally weighted steering-assist boost—not overly light that you think the front wheels are disconnected from the rest of the car, but not so heavy that you wonder if there is any assist at all. What this nice middle ground allows for is communication, where the driver knows what the car is doing and a hint of what it might do.
Of course, the large percentage of future Spin owners may not actually care for this last bit, likely to focus more on the seats—“theater-style,” by the way, or where the middle ones are mounted high to afford vistas—and luggage space. On both counts, the Spin delivers, boasting ample room for passengers in the front and middle perches, and able to swallow a weekend’s worth of stuff out in the back. As usual, the third-row seats, which tuck out of the way to make added room for cargo, are best reserved for short, tiny people when they’re put up.
During the Thai gig, the Spin was proposed as an active-lifestyle tool in which to haul exciting gear like paddle boards, which were the perfect toys on Rayong’s waters, if not fashion statements at the ritzy beachfront hotels.
As Gustavo Colossi, Chevrolet Thailand vice president of sales, marketing and after-sales, put it; “The Spin is an MPV that could become a part of the owner’s lifestyle. It is a lifestyle enabler.”
Arcilla forecast the Spin, when it arrives in the Philippines (in August, by the way), can also appeal to women wanting a stylish kids-shuttler/grocery-getter, or to families settling for one do-it-all car.
Whatever the case, it’s clear Chevrolet’s new spin on the MPV holds quite some promise.