Shanghai GM has begun taking preorders for the Chevrolet Sail hatchback. The Sail hatch is the least expensive Chevrolet in China and is available with a choice two four-cylinder engines: a 1.2 liter (available on the SE and SX trim levels) and an up-level 1.4 liter.
The 1.2 liter has a starting price of RMB 56,800 ($8,314 using current exchange rates) and can be mated to either a manual or an automatic electronic manual transmission (EMT) while the up-level 1.4 is available with an EMT only and starts at RMB 75,800 ($11,153). We’re not sure whether these engines are part of GM’s ECOTEC family, but I’m guessing they’re not – otherwise the trademark would be all over this one.
GM says that the Sail hatch has a “stylish exterior” and a “flexible interior” and that its boxy design maximizes the use of interior space. In fact, the trunk of the Sail hatch has a capacity of 330 gallons (1,250 liters) of space. According to GM, this is good for a 26-inch bike or a 56-inch LCD TV. The Sail hatch will join the Sail sedan that is currently selling at about 7,500 units per month.
And in case you’re wondering what, exactly, an electronic manual transmission (EMT) is (like we were) – here’s the description straight from GM’s press release:
The five-speed EMT transmission features Marelli technology, which has been updated by Shanghai GM and the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC) in Shanghai in line with local driving needs and driving conditions. Gear shifting, acceleration and the clutch are all controlled mechanically. The TCU computer module functions like a brain, choosing the best time for shifting gears based on driving conditions. The result is a 10-16 percent improvement in fuel economy compared to traditional automatic transmissions.
With the unique Creeping function, the driver only needs to control the brakes when reversing. Acceleration, the clutch and gear shifting are handled by the EMT. The EMT also costs less and has a lower maintenance cost than a standard automatic transmission.
The Sail hatch and sedan were completely developed by GM China and the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC) – a 50-50 joint venture between General Motors and its Chinese partner SAIC. The Sail hatch joins Chevy’s other small car offerings in China such as the Sail sedan, Aveo, and Lova (Aveo Sedan). GM believes that Chevrolet’s extensive lineup “offers an unmatched number of options for young families and other small car buyers across China.” The all-new Spark, however, is noticeably absent from the Chinese market at this time.