Chevrolet Aveo 1.3 litre (95PS) VCDi20 | 02 | 2012Scotcars rating

    Chevrolet turns to the Aveo to kickstart its presence in the UK: but just how good is it?


    One of the most interesting and largely unobserved things which has been happening in the car business of late has not been in the area of supercars, exotic machinery or new energy efficient technology.

    Here’s a clue. Mention the name Chevrolet, and if you’re of a certain vintage you’re probably going all misty-eyed with images in your minds-eye of the glory days of American automotive antiquities. The 57 Chevrolet Bel Air is still the ultimate Stateside classic, sadly rarely seen unless you happen to holiday in Cuba and take a stroll in downtown Havana where there are more than a few still cruising on a sultry Caribbean evening. It, like many Chevvies before and since have featured in countless classic songs – “I took my Chevvy to the levvy  etc etc…” – which means that the name has become engrained in the minds of anyone who has a soul and considers that the past is just as, if not more so, important than the present.

    Which brings me to the point, and one which automotive giant General Motors want us to think about. In this country our closest contact with the company is through Vauxhall, one of our oldest car brands, and while it is enjoying something of a revival through successful models like the Corsa and Insignia, it is determined to capitalise on the historical asset of Chevrolet which has until now been seen largely as an American brand.

    I’ve just spent a surprisingly enjoyable couple of weeks with their understated MPV, the Orlando, which for a remarkably low price tag offers seven seat practicality and great value for money.

    Round about the same time though I got the chance to try out their new supermini, the Aveo, which again throws up a few surprises. It’s got a tough job on its hands – it’s competing against something like 25 others in a limited market at a time when very few of us have got used to the distinctive bow-tie Chevrolet badge.    

    On the Road

    It’s a four-door hatch, but the designers have done some clever things to make it look and feel bigger than it actually is. From the front it has a bold presence which belies its compact dimensions and I like the imposing double headlamps, although I noticed they seem to be vulnerable to internal condensation. I thought it was a technical feature of the lighting until I discovered that the feature disappeared as the sun came up and the temperature rose.

    It actually has some very smooth lines which you don’t often find in a car in this range, and I liked the rear door handles which are disguised into the panel behind the rear windows. There’s a choice of 1.2 or 1.4 litre petrol and 1.3 litre diesel with either 75 or 95PS power output and three trim levels. The volume model will be the base 1.2 in LT spec with a list price of £10,995 and Chevrolet are expecting to sell about 4000 across the range in a full year.

    I confess I didn’t like the automatic version in the 1.4 which I felt was lumpy with uncomfortable changes, but that could be down to the fact that the particular test car had only 50 miles on the clock so it may bed in over time. My choice was the 1.3 litre VCDi diesel in LTZ spec with 95PS which importantly comes with a six speed box which was sadly lacking in the other versions. It proved lively on the road and in fact I really enjoyed my brief time with it where it was able to give a good account of itself. The Aveo shares its chassis with its GM stablemate the Corsa and its behaviour on the road was first class and designed specifically for European roads with re-assuring grip and very little body roll.    

    Comfort and Safety

    For a small car it is remarkably comfortable and surprisingly spacious. It comes with all the latest safety spec and has a strong body, 60% of which is made from high-strength steel. It feels secure and well built and comes with many features found only on more expensive models such as Bluetooth, audio controls on the steering wheel, air con and hill start assist. 

    The Aveo is aimed at a generally older market of 45 to 50-year-olds, and young families as a second car. Two ends of the spectrum who will both be attracted by the value for money and low running costs as well as the added security of a five-year, 100,000 mile warranty.   Would I buy one? It’s different, it’s great value for money – why not?

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    Alan Douglas

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £13,615 / £13,615
    Engine / Power: 1248cc / 95PS
    How fast?: 0-62mph 12.6secs / Max 108 mph
    How big/heavy?: L4039mm W1735mm H1517mm / Weight 1185kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 68.9mpg combined / CO2 108 g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: 10 / Band B £20
    Alternatives: Hyundai i20; Suzuki Swift; Kia Rio; Renault Clio

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