The Essentia concept previews Chevrolet’s upcoming Spark-based sedan for the Indian market. Will it have what it takes to compete with the new Volkswagen Ameo?

Earlier this month we reviewed the Volkswagen Ameo, a sedan version of the Polo specifically developed for the Indian market. Less than four meters long, the Ameo was developed as an affordable subcompact sedan to compete with the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire, Honda Amaze, and Ford Figo Aspire. At the 2016 New Delhi Auto Expo, Chevrolet unveiled its own competitor for this niche. Dubbed Essentia, it is just a concept for now, but one that looks ready to hit the assembly line without any modifications whatsoever.

Based on the new Beat, which was just launched in the country as an India-spec version of the fourth-generation Chevy Spark, the Essentia will slot under the Sail (built on the same Gamma II platform as the Spark, Sonic, and Trax) in the company’s lineup and will become the smallest bowtie-badged sedan in production.

There’s no word as to when the Essentia will hit the market as a production model, but Chevrolet did confirm that it will announce "specific market plans" at a later date. Given that Volkswagen and Ford have already joined this growing niche, Chevrolet will most likely roll out the Essentia within a year. Until that happens, let’s have a closer look at the upcoming sedan version of the tiny Spark.

Continue reading to learn more about the Chevrolet Essentia Concept.

Exterior

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2016 Chevrolet Essentia Concept High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Chevrolet Essentia Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Not surprisingly, the Essentia concept looks very similar to the new-generation Spark (Beat) up front. The hood, headlamps, and upper grille are identical except for the extra chrome strip of the latter. It’s the bumper that sets the Essentia apart. The Spark’s large grille was split in two distinct units, a larger upper section that’s only slightly smaller than the hatchback’s, and a thin lower intake. The foglamp bezels are also smaller and lack the chrome seen on higher trimmed Sparks.

Just like its future competitors, the Essentia is more of a notchback than a conventional sedan, sporting a short deck lid.

On the side, similarities continue toward the B-pillar, but from there on, the Essentia is a brand-new car. Unfortunately, like most sub-four-meter sedans developed for the Indian market, the tall beltline, the small wheels, the oversized arches and the way the rear comes to an abrupt end makes it look rather disproportionate. Just like its future competitors, the Essentia is more of a notchback than a conventional sedan, sporting a short deck lid.

From the rear, the concept reminds of the Sonic sedan, but the latter was quite gorgeous compared to the Essentia. The license plate recess seems too big for the fascia and the vertically oriented taillights make the car seem narrower than it really is. And narrow is not good at all, given Chevrolet is aiming for a premium, "richly appointed" appearance. Is it that hard to design a planted and sporty looking rear end for a budget car?

Interior

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2016 Chevrolet Essentia Concept High Resolution Interior
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2016 Chevrolet Essentia Concept High Resolution Interior
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The concept sports a fancy two-tone color scheme combing a pale shade of gold and a creamy, light gray and overall good fit and finish

Chevrolet provided no information about the Essentia’s interior, but the photos show a spartan cabin, the kind you’d expect from a vehicle competing in the subcompact segment. However, the concept sports a fancy two-tone color scheme combing a pale shade of gold and a creamy, light gray and overall good fit and finish. The center stack is clean and simple, but looks neat and offers plenty of storage room in the lower section. It is also equipped with an infotainment touchscreen, which isn’t exactly the norm in this niche.

The instrument cluster features a big speedometer and an additional display for all the vital information. There are a few premium-like features as well. The A/C vents have chrome frames, the door panels have gold inserts with white stitching, while the seats feature white stitching and piping. Also, the gray floor mats have gold edges. Sure, many of these niceties might not make it to the production model, but this concept car looks better than most of its Indian competitors on the inside.

Drivetrain

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There’s no word as to what engine lurks under the hood, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up for anything bigger than a 1.2-liter. When it goes into production, the Essentia will most likely receive the same drivetrains as the hatchback model, including a 1.2-liter four-cylinder gasoline unit and a 1.0-liter three-pot diesel. The former cranks out 77 horsepower and 107 Nm (79 pound-feet) of torque in the Beat hatch, while the latter generates 56 horses and 142.5 Nm (105 pound-feet)of twist.

Conclusion

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A massive improvement over its predecessor in terms of styling, the fourth-generation Spark is quite a pretty hatch. And, before I saw the Essentia concept, I honestly believed that anything based on the new Spark would be nearly as pretty. Now I’m ready to admit I was wrong, but I can’t really blame Chevrolet for putting that hideous rear end on the nice-looking Spark. After all, its Indian division needed a compact vehicle that would offer more luggage room than the petite hatch and sometimes compromises have to be made in order to obtain a practical, yet still affordable car. We also have to keep in mind than India has expensive tax and insurance policies when it comes to cars that measure over four meters in length, which explains why this market is packed with awkward models such as the Ford Figo Aspire and Honda Amaze. The Essentia may be ugly and disproportionate, but its production sibling will satisfy a large number of customers looking for an affordable, compact sedan. And, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, that’s the only reason why Chevy made this compromise. All GM needs now is a strong production model that will be able to give the brand-new Volkswagen Ameo a run for its money.

  • Leave it
    • * Ugly butt and awkward proportions
    • * Just a concept for now
    • * Tough competition from Ford and Volkswagen

Press Release

Chevrolet Essentia is an exciting precursor to a new production car that recognizes the need for a traditional but richly appointed notchback. It is an aspirational product that is rich in content and offers the luxury of space. Functionality is at its core to ensure there is room to comfortably fit five adults and plenty of luggage without any compromise to style. It reflects the growing maturity and the sophistication of Indian consumers.

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Chevrolet Beat Activ is a fun and spirited concept that has been designed to stand out from the crowd. As a soft-roader, the Beat Activ is ready for any adventure or challenge. With expressive design language and significant attention to detail, this youthful car is a response to India’s maturing market and aspirational lifestyle. With a tough and aggressive stance, adventure is at its core, while its interior ensures the driver remains comfortable and connected.

BEAT HERITAGE

Although both show cars boast distinct body styles, the Essentia and Beat Activ bear the underpinnings of an advanced version of the proven Beat platform. Expanding on the popularity of the Chevrolet Beat nameplate, these cars broaden the scope and appeal of the car, proving global cars can be tailored to meet local tastes. Designed specifically to suit the tastes and needs of the discerning Indian consumer, these cars designed in the GM Korea Design Studio, are a clear demonstration of GM’s ability to develop two unique models with distinct personalities to appeal to different audiences.

QUOTABLE

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Kaher Kazem, President and Managing Director, GM India: “The Essentia and Beat Activ were created in direct response to the growing Indian market and signal Chevrolet’s commitment to the maturing Indian A-segment market. Both evolutions of the proven Beat platform, these two important vehicles give us the opportunity to speak to a wider audience. They clearly demonstrate we are listening to our customers and are being led by their need for small cars with more content and

more choice. We are confident it is cars like these that will increase our presence on Indian roads.”

Michael Simcoe, Vice President – Design, GM International: “The Essentia and Beat Activ perfectly represent the evolution of the Chevrolet brand – they are distinctive, aspirational, modern and progressive. One platform but two distinct cars with two distinct personalities. The Essentia is refined and sophisticated, while the Beat Activ is young, more aggressive and spirited. These vehicles demonstrate how we design global cars, ensuring they are tailored to meet local tastes.”

MARKET RELEVANCE

Markets are no longer isolated, so GM designs cars for the world. Although the Essentia and Beat Activ are designed for India, GM believes they will have global appeal. Both products offer the brand a unique proposition in terms of value for money and reflect Chevrolet’s American heritage.

One of the lead designer of the Chevrolet Beat and Chevrolet Essentia is an Indian-born Lead Creative Designer Harish Kumar, who worked on this key project in India before following the cars to Korea. He is just one of several Indian designers currently located at the GM Design Studio in Detroit and is proof that Indian designers are influencing global products.

CHEVROLET INSPIRATION

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The face given to the Essentia and Beat Activ comes from the new Chevrolet design language. All future Chevrolet products for India will have this recognizable and distinct Chevrolet DNA, which ensures the vehicles will stand out on busy roads. These concepts represent the evolution of Chevrolet – distinct, modern and progressive.

ALWAYS CONNECTED

Both of these products blend practicality with style while offering greater safety and connectivity with state-of-the-art features that are designed to fit seamlessly in customers’ busy lives. They offer Chevrolet MyLink2 – a class-leading infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – which gives users complete control within the car. Key active and passive safety features include dual air bags, ABS and a rear camera, for complete peace of mind.

POWERTRAINS

Specific details will be announced closer to market launch.

MARKET ROLLOUT

Specific market plans will be communicated at a later date.

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