Orlando is on the ball


MY colleague and I were pondering about the rationale behind the naming of Chevrolet’s latest Multi-Purpose Vehicle – Orlando. As scribes for a publication dedicated to sport, “the beautiful game” came to mind – we were obviously thinking about South Africa’s very own Orlando Pirates. Sure, it’s unlikely that the team at Chevrolet were thinking of football when they christened their new addition – but I advise that someone from General Motors gets the ball rolling, and arranges some kind of sponsorship with the Pirates. Imagine the novelty of seeing the team’s logo strategically placed next to the Orlando nameplate – cool stuff indeed.

Our hardworking footballers deserve to get behind the wheel of the Chevrolet Orlando: it offers such a pleasant, calming driving experience – it’s like listening to that “feel good” song, Summer Breeze, by Seal & Croft. The weather conditions that had graced us during the test drive certainly added to the relaxed ambience. Lovely rays of sunlight permeated the Orlando’s airy cabin, warming the three members of the Sports Focus team, keeping our winter chills at bay.

But despite bearing a name that might resonate with local football fans, the teams designers had in mind when creating the Orlando, were teams of families. It’s size and shape is a dead giveaway: typical MPV proportions, albeit with a liberal sprinkling of American style. It has presence in healthy quantities, when you arrive at the school gates to drop-off and fetch your kin, other parents will notice. Chevrolet DNA is evident in the Orlando’s front-end, it shows off its iconic bowtie emblem, one can easily tell that it’s related to the elegant Cruze saloon, and the cute-and-cuddly Spark.

Space is one of the Orlando’s biggest merits. Large windows reduce any sense of claustrophobia and one can stretch and move around quite freely. Drivers of the Chevrolet Cruze and Opel Astra might be familiar with the similar dashboard layout – said to mimic the shape of a waterfall. I do wish the handbrake was placed closer to the driver, it’s too far left of things and it can be obstructed when the driver’s armrest is down. Make no bones about it. The Orlando is not a small car. You will not experience the thrill of go-kart-like handling behind the wheel. Instead, its weight gives it a planted feel, a sense of sure-footedness is communicated through the steering wheel, it handles its stocky physique well, gliding through bends with ease – without nausea-inducing body-roll. It seems to have the ingredients of a wonderful long-distance car.

Presently, one can chose between the 1.8 LS and 1.8 LT. The LT is the grander of the two, treating its passengers to leather upholstery, adding extra visual attitude in the form of bigger alloy wheels. In my humble opinion, it could steal consumers on looks alone – the Orlando gets my vote, because it’s provides those MPV virtues of practicality and versatility, but in a suit that’s striking and pleasant to the eye.

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