GM refreshes the Onix, the best-selling car in Brazil. And raises its starting price to US$ 13,678

After the Volkswagen Gol lost the title of best-selling car in Brazil in 2014, the leadership has changed more often. The Gol has been a leader for 27 years in a row. After the Fiat Palio got the lead in 2014, GM has claimed it in 2015 with the Onix. And the company does not want to lose it. This is one of the reasons for the Onix refresh you see in these pictures. The car has received changes in the front and rear end, as well as some improvements in its interior. But the main news about it, at least in the Brazilian market, is the arrival of the Onix Activ version. The orange car you see above and below.

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Brazil has awful roads and streets, full of potholes, abrupt level changes and mountain-like speed bumps. This is an additional reason for crossover and SUVs popularity increase in this market. But they are too expensive for most of the customers. So automakers have decided to produce regular models with a higher ground clearance and reinforced suspension. They are called “aventureiros”, something like “adventurers”, in Brazil. The Onix Activ is the most recent addition to the bunch, which already includes the Renault Sandero Stepway and the Fiat Palio Adventure.

The version has a 30 mm higher ground clearance, achieved only by suspension changes. Besides that, it also uses bigger tires, 195/65 R15. Inside, the car has a 40 mm taller seatiing position. Its starting price is R$ 57,190, or US$ 17,426, and it will have a single engine option, the 1.4 4-cylinder.

 

The regular Onix

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As for the regular models, they now have a 6-speed manual transmission in order to reduce emissions. The Onix is 3.93 m long, 1.71 m wide, 1.49 m high and has a wheelbase of 2.53 m.

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GM claims to have developed a “new generation” of engines, but they are the same ones the car already had. Pistons, rods and rings have been redesigned. A new oil has been chosen. Power and torque have not changed. The 1.0 4-cylinder keeps on delivering 59 kW/57 kW at 6,400 rpm and 96 Nm/93 Nm at 5,200 rpm with ethanol/gasoline. The 1.4 4-cylinder still produces 78/72 kW at 6,000 rpm and 136 Nm/127 Nm at 4,800 rpm. And this is what makes a “new generation engine” in Brazil for GM.

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Aesthetically speaking, the modifications have been in the head and tail lights, as well as in the front and read bumpers.

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The interior is basically the same apart from the door handles, which have been placed more forward. The previous ones demanded occupants to put their arms back to reach them, in a very uncomfortable way. It still does not have Isofix for baby seats, something that is pretty basic in any developed market.

Chevrolet Prisma

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The sedan version of Onix, called Prisma, does not offer a single new feature that the Onix doesn’t. It is 4.28 m long, 1.71 m wide, 1.49 m high and has a wheelbase of 2.53 m. The main news for these cars is finally presenting OnStar, a system that Americans can buy since 1996. What is a 20-year delay in the automotive industry? Peanuts…

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Just for the record, the less expensive version of Onix is the LT 1.0. It costs R$ 44,890, or US$ 13,678. The most expensive model of the range is the Prisma LTZ with automatic transmission. It costs R$ 64,690, or US$ 19,711. What about trading your US Cruze for a Prisma and still having to put US$ 3,000 in order to be able to buy it? Brazilian customers will do it. More often than you could imagine.

Gustavo Henrique Ruffo

I have been an automotive journalist since 1998 and have worked for many important Brazilian newspapers and magazines, such as the local edition of Car and Driver and Quatro Rodas, Brazilian's biggest car magazine. I have also worked for foreign websites, such as World Car Fans and won a few journalism prizes, among them three SAE Journalism Awards and the 2017 IAM RoadSmart Safety Award. I am the author of "The Traffic Cholesterol", a book about bad drivers that you can buy at Hotmart, Google Play, Amazon and Kobo.