Live from the launch: Chevrolet Orlando

Chevrolet is launching a huge swathe of products onto the European market in the next year, and the Orlando is the first to arrive.

A further six models will join it in 2011 – the new Captiva and Aveo, the Cruze hatchback, the Corvette and Camaro and, arguably most important of all, the Volt.

And if this seven-seat MPV is anything to go by the future, whilst perhaps not groundbreaking, is reasonably bright.
The Orlando is something of a slave to its budget nature, but it manages to combine an attractive front and an awkward rear without unduly offending anyone.

The interior plastics don't feel expensive either, but they do feel solid and are quite attractive. The dashboard is well designed and laid out with a fine eye for functional simplicity.

We particularly liked the hidey-hole tucked behind the stereo. The release button looks like just another part of the stereo and it allows you to put small items such as phones and keys away from prying eyes.

Beyond that, the Orlando includes few features that can be thought of as innovative, but it does succeed in doing the basics well. The UK market will surely avoid the gutless 140bhp 1.8-litre petrol – which struggled up hills even with only two people on board – but the 130bhp 2.0-litre diesel pulls smoothly and is actually quite refined.

The seats are large enough to take seven in relative comfort (though not as large as the likes of the Volkswagen Sharan or the Ford Galaxy) but rear passengers are unlikely to take kindly to seating three abreast for long journeys. As with almost every car in this segment, there is no way you could get much in the way of luggage in the boot while travelling seven up.

The seats fold easily, but they are not as clever as the likes of the Ford Grand C Max which folds the middle seat into the right hand one. But then the Grand C Max doesn't start at £16,395. Admittedly this is the petrol version, and the higher powered 160bhp diesel will cost you another £4,000.

At that level the Orlando looks a little less like a budget alternative, but take the mid spec LT trim with the perfectly adequate 130bhp 2.0 VCDi engine and it starts to seem a little more competitive in what is a hotly-contested class.
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