The release of NAAMSA sale statistics for July 2010 saw the Chevrolet Corsa Utility extend its period of unbroken market leadership in the sub 1-ton pick up sector to 64 months. The class benchmark did this in style by recording sales of 1 310 units for the month as the second most popular light commercial vehicle in South Africa.

The launch of the Corsa Ute in South Africa in 2004 followed closely on the 2003 release of the vehicle in its native Brazil where it is known as the Chevrolet Montana. The Corsa Ute immediately went on back order as demand for this spacious and feature rich new model captured the attention of the buying public – amongst both commercial and recreational users.

This high level of demand prevails and in May 2009 the Corsa Ute reached a marketing milestone in South Africa with the delivery of the 100 000th unit. Since that time sales have grown to a total of 121 329 units as at the end of July.

The popularity of the Corsa Ute in South Africa reflects on the international sales of the vehicle with South Africa accounting for 32% of the total. The other 68% are sold in South America with combined total sales for the two market regions, since launch through to July 2010, of 376 566 units. That total is due to break through the 400 000 barrier before the end of the year.

A key factor in this success is the fact that the Corsa Ute has redefined the small utility vehicle sector in terms of interior space, load carrying ability – with a best payload in class of 790 kg for the diesel and 680 kg for the 1.4 entry level model – style, and features. These provide the Corsa Ute with a high level of appeal for the serious business user while providing a comfortable second car option for the private buyer where it fills both utility and leisure vehicle roles.

With the introduction of the Corsa Utility GMSA registered the name “Maxicab” to highlight the spacious interior. The seat travel accommodates the tallest of drivers in comfort without compromise. Equally generous is headroom and shoulder room. Interior storage, often a shortcoming in pick-ups, is well catered for with a voluminous storage space behind the seats.

The popularity of the Corsa Ute is supported by numerous awards for vehicle quality and customer satisfaction. In 2008 the Corsa Ute was named as “Best Overall LCV Brand” in the Synovate Quality Awards. It was also named as the best vehicle in the Half-Ton class in the same survey.

The Corsa Ute followed this up in 2009 when it received Synovate Gold Awards as the leading single cab ¾ ton pick-up, and as the “Best Overall Light Commercial Brand”. The GMSA plant in Port Elizabeth was also named as the “Best South African Plant Manufacturing LCVs”.

The Corsa Ute has also featured strongly on the world renowned JD Power Organisation’s list of awards in its South African Initial Quality Surveys. In 2005 the Corsa Ute was the highest ranked pick-up brand. In the 2006 JD Power IQS it was named as the segment leader and scored a hat trick with this award in 2007 and went on to lead the category again in 2008. In 2007 and 2008 the snappy little Ute from GM was second in the overall pick-up category. There was no JD Power IQS Survey in 2009.

Earlier this year GMSA gave the Corsa Ute the challenge of setting a range of speed and endurance records to illustrate the reliability and durability of the vehicle.

The target was for the 1.7 litre Diesel pick-up to set 15 new class records. Time based records were achieved at the one hour, three, six, 12, 24, 48, and 72 hour marks while distance records were set for the 50, 100, 200, 500, 1 000, 2 000, 5 000, and 10 000 kilometre marks. At the end of the 72 hours a total of 15 South African and world records were attributed to the Corsa 1,7 Diesel Utility.

The overall performance of the Corsa Utility surprised many observers. The total distance covered by the lead vehicle in the attempt was 11 096,67 km at an average speed of 154,12 km/h, a distance that exceeded the previous record set by a competitor’s 3,0 litre 1-ton pick-up in 2003 by 72 km or 1 km/h. The second of the Corsa Utes completed just 153 km less with a variance of just 1,3%. Along the way the fastest lap speed recorded was 166,8 km/h.

With what most will consider an all out thrashing of the two Corsa Utilities over the 72 hours the overall fuel consumption was surprisingly just 9,6 l/100km for the lead vehicle and 9,4 l/100km for the second one. The average for the 22 041 km covered by both vehicles just 9,5 l/100km.

The Chevrolet Corsa Utility range is comprised of nine models with three distinct levels of specification. Engine choices are 1.4 petrol, 1.8 petrol, or 1.7 turbo diesel.