The sub-one ton bakkie market in South Africa is understandably huge, with a massive need for something that offers passenger car features yet has the ability of carrying just about anything and everything. Let’s check out the Chevrolet Utility.
Chevrolet Utility Club 1.8 – Review by Dave Taylor
Bye Bye Opel Corsa, hello Chevrolet UtilityIf you’re reading this you’ll probably know about this vehicle’s heritage. It’s an Opel Corsa Utility. Or it was, until Chevrolet got their hands on it. This is the third generation of the working-class hero and despite it being labelled a commercial vehicle, is actually rather popular amongst the recreation addicts as well as the youth.
Attractive for a light commercialA lot has changed when you compare this to the previous version. Gone is the curvy front end and in its place is a face which is not too dissimilar to the bigger and brawnier Lumina SS Ute. It’s about time commercial vehicles had a bit of personality added to the design, as opposed to some form-follows-function bean counter’s business plan.
Gutsy performance from the 1.8-litreOn test is a white Chevrolet Utility Club 1.8 which I reckon has both bases of power and economy covered. The 1.8-litre 8-valve engine pushes out 77kW and 161Nm which offers respectable unladen performance. The engine revs freely and it feels slightly racy. I put this down to a short-ratio gearbox, which gives it plenty of low down grunt. There’s a smaller 1.4-litre as well as a 1.3-litre diesel in the range. This engine is good in terms of performance and fuel economy, with Chevrolet claiming 8.1L/100km.
Due to the small size, the Utility is quite fun to drive and the suspension is adequate when it comes to soaking up the road’s imperfections. Once you start loading it up, performance does drop slightly.
Load bay takes everything, and the kitchen sinkThe load bay of the Utility is very good, and this is probably one of the reasons why this vehicle sells well. The 1.8 Club version is able to haul 733kg worth of cargo. This vehicle is popular with all walks of life, and the load bay will see a huge variety of stuff thrown in. Florists, plumbers, builders and surfers would love this vehicle. Personally, I think the Utility is best suited to carrying surfboards, a Weber braai and cooler boxes to the beach. In terms of versatility, the Utility is a winner.
Passenger car spec in a bakkieThe Utility’s cabin feels a lot like a passenger car as opposed to a light commercial vehicle. The features list is impressive and seeing Bluetooth/USB/iPod audio system was a pleasant surprise. There’s a digital air conditioning unit, remote central locking and the dashboard looks like something out of the Tron movie with its blue-green lighting. The car comes standard with an airbag for both driver and passenger.
Space in the cabin is to be commended too. One of the big problems I often encounter with bakkies is that there is no space to store things like laptop bags out of sight. We all know what happens when you’re driving in town and you leave a laptop bag or a mobile phone lying on the passenger seat… However, there’s just enough room behind the driver and passenger seats to squeeze in some luggage
Chevrolet Utility - ConclusionIt may have a light commercial vehicle sticker on it, but you cannot help but think about how good this car would be for students. You don’t need to be a plumber or electrician to consider one of these. You could still fulfill your business obligations if you need a small bakkie, but I reckon this is just perfect for someone’s first car. It’s safe, offers good performance plus there’s a practical load bay which would be very handy.
Then there’s that price. Chevrolet has priced it exceptionally well and your Rands get you something decent. This is a very good package, and now you know why there are so many of them on the roads.
View the new Chevrolet Utility
Chevrolet Utility Club - PriceChevrolet Utility - R161 200
- Why you should: Cheap to buy, cheap to run, good performance, decent spec, useful payload
- Why you shouldn’t: Some aspects of the cabin feel a little too cheap.
- It would be better if: the safety features were present across the entire range. Not every Ute model receives ABS with EBD.
- Competitors worth checking out: Nissan NP200