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So while the Orlando’s exterior styling draws from its North American roots, under the hood, the Ecotec 1.8-litre engine has its origins from Opel, GM’s German subsidiary. The same unit is also available in Cruze and Opel Astra in other markets. This engine is coupled to an advanced 6-speed automatic transmission, so far the only one of its kind found in an MPV currently on the market. Mechanically, this makes the Orlando very similar to the forthcoming third generation Opel Zafira.

In the same vein that the Orlando does not pretend to be a sports car, but is instead quietly confident and comfortable as a family-friendly MPV, the Orlando’s performance is steady rather than earth-shattering, and that’s good. Tuned to produce most of its torque below 2000rpm, the Ecotec unit is quiet and unobstrusive, and the gearchanges are impressively smooth.

In terms of power output, the Orlando’s 1.8-litre matches that of the Wish’s 2.0-litre and the Stream’s 1.8-litre i-VTEC engine, but it also weighs about 150kg heavier than these Japanese rivals. Against its European rivals the Citroen Grand Picasso and VW Touran, both are more powerful, both having turbocharged engines, but they also weigh-in heavier than the Orlando. Performance-wise, the Chevy seems to be a nicely middle-of-the-road, which is consistent with its multi-ethnic background.

The Orlando’s cabin is a comfortable mix of European and American elements. From America one gets large and comfortable seats which are generously dimensioned. Like the Cruze, the dashboard neatly separates cabin into two, harking back to Chevrolet tradition that started in the original Corvette from the 50s. The driver gets a modular instrument binnacle with cool blue graphics and lighting, but the positioning of the fuel and temperature gauge in a separate cluster in-between the speedo and tachometer seems to attract reflections off the steering column under the midday sun, rendering them unreadable under certain conditions.

The focus piece of the dashboard is the centre stack in the middle of the dashboard, starting with the bright LED Sat-Nav display on the top, followed by the fully-integrated in-car entertainment unit a little lower, and the easy-to-use aircon controls at the bottom. Here again, what is impressive is how Chevy has managed to seamlessly integrate aspects sourced from different parts of the world together. The Sat-Nav components are locally-sourced and developed, but it works beautifully with the German-styled precision touch of the in-car entertainment system.

A really innovative feature is that this ICE panel actually tilts upward, revealing not just a USB jack, but also a hidden cubby hole to store the iPod or MP3 device – a thoughtful detail superbly executed. Other nice details on the top-of-the-line Orlando LT include an openable glass sunroof, and automatic headlamps and wipers. 

As the Orlando has the longest wheelbase in its class, the middle row passengers are also very well-catered for. Legroom is generous, the seats can be adjusted for rake, and there are face level aircon vents. There is even a centre armrest for the middle row, and thoughtfully, two drink holders have been integrated into the armrest.

Accessing the third row seats also reveals another nice detail – the seat folding mechanism is spring loaded, gently tipping the seat swab upright to allow easy access to the rear-most seats. The space for those in the third row is about par for this class of MPV – more suitable for children rather than full-size adults.


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