Chevrolet tends to conjure up images of American muscle cars such as the Corvette or Camaro, but in Europe it’s a different story. In 2005 the brand relaunched with a host of rebadged Daewoos as it was decided by parent company GM that the Chevy badge had a better image and would appeal to European tastes.
One of the first cars to proudly wear the familiar bow-tie badge was the Kalos, a supermini aimed squarely at cars such as Ford’s Fiesta and Volkswagen’s Polo. Disappointingly despite its superb value for money it wasn’t a great car, it failed to worry the class leaders. It was later heavily revised and renamed Aveo but even with a fresh new exterior and much improved cabin it still never captured the imagination of supermini buyers
Late last year Chevrolet launched the second generation all-new Aveo which promised to have improved in every area over its predecessor. Crucially it’s underpinned by GM’s latest Gamma II platform which will also appear on the next generation Corsa. I get behind the wheel to find out if the Fiesta has reason to worry.
If it’s a good looking supermini that ticks your boxes then the Aveo could be the perfect car for you. Chevrolet really have put a lot of effort into the exterior design which manages to not only carry over a lot of the character of the old model but successfully brings it up to date. The metallic blue sits well with the ultra-aggressive front with its unique exposed round headlamps and large split grill. There is a similarly aggressive back end too also with black lights and neatly concealed rear door handles. The rest of the design is well executed, simple yet very stylish at the same time despite the comically large tyre sidewalls.
Those who are familiar with the old Aveo’s interior will really appreciate the new models bold design. Everything seems to have been designed with young style conscious individuals in mind from the motorbike inspired dials to the intricate aircraft style air vents. Everything is well laid out with plenty of tried-and-tested GM parts which are backlit in a rather youthful blue color at nighttime. The only real letdown is the quality of the materials used which although very well screwed together feel brittle to the touch and aren’t very pleasant.
The Aveo’s increased dimensions make for a one of the most spacious cabins in its class with an abundance of rear legroom and acres of headroom; it’s even possible to fit three across the rear bench. There are also plenty of ‘cubbies’ including a double glovebox for storing ‘bits’n’bobs’
Under the bonnet of the model I tried was a 1248cc 16v diesel engine producing 95bhp from 4000 rpm also be found in the Vauxhall Corsa. Coupled with the standard Start/Stop technology the Aveo is road tax exempt thanks to its 95 g/km emissions. It’s a punchy unit with plenty of mid-range pulling power and manages to feel brisk enough for any type of driving. It’s also fantastically economical returning a very decent 69 mpg whilst with me. It’s just a little disappointing that the units gruffness penetrates into the cabin far too frequently.
Traditionally the Aveo and Kalos have been nothing special to drive but refreshingly the new model is much improved. The most impressive aspect has to be the comfort on offer. Thanks to its modern platform and we’ll sorted suspension the ride quality is nothing short of superb. Both around town and on motorways it’s supple, forgiving and never feels flustered. There is also a noticeable lack of wind and tyre noise which makes the little Chevy very pleasant on long journeys.
It also handles well with good body control and grip levels which really inspire confidence, it’s not as much fun to drive as a Fiesta but it’s more than adequate for the majority of motorists. The 5 speed gearbox is also a gem with its smooth well-oiled action and intelligently spaced ratios. The steering however is a little lacking in feel and is overly assisted but this makes light work of city driving.
At £12,795 for this mid-spec LT model the Aveo represents good value for money especially considering Chevrolet’s very good reliability record backed up by a 5 year / 100,000 mile warranty. Standard equipment is also plentiful including alloy wheels, air-conditioning, cruise control, remote locking, electric front windows and mirrors and Bluetooth phone connectivity. The Aveo also received a 5-star NCAP safety rating.
Price as tested: £12,795
Engine: 1.3 16v 95bhp – 0-62mph: 11.7 secs – Maximum Speed: 108 mph –
Economy: 67.2mpg (urban) –85.6mpg (extra-urban), 78.4mpg (combined) – Emissions: 95g/km (Band A) – VED (12 months): £0
Dimensions: Length: 4039mm – Width: 1735mm – Height: 1517mm – Wheelbase: 2525mm
*data from Chevrolet UK
The new Aveo is a huge step forward for Chevrolet. It may use low rent plastics inside and an engine lacking in refinement but in most areas it really excels. It looks great inside and out, is one of the most spacious cars in its sector and drives very well with top marks for comfort. Running costs are also very impressive thanks to the frugality of the engine and very low emissions. If this isn’t enough the Aveo is also aggressively priced against the competitive which makes it a car I would highly recommend