What is the Chevrolet Aveo?
It may be a Chevrolet, but there is absolutely nothing muscular or even American about the Aveo. It’s a neat new small car, the sort you would describe as a supermini before realising it’s bigger than the Volkswagen Golf of 10 years ago.
The Aveo’s strikingly handsome, four-headlamp face is a refreshing change from the sloping-eyed chrome-and-glass slashes that adorn the front end of far too many small cars – and there’s a pleasingly chunky, forward-leaning eagerness to its profile. The Aveo is made in Korea by the operation formerly known as Daewoo, although its design and engineering originate in Europe and America, and beneath its skin it has most of the structure of Vauxhall’s next-generation Corsa.
The fact that it costs about £2,000 less than a comparable Ford Fiesta and £1,000 less than a Kia Rio makes it tempting; a mere £12,795 buys a middle-spec, eco-optimised 1.3-litre diesel version, and a basic 1.2 petrol can be yours for a shade over £10,000. If this newcomer to the market turns out to be a genuinely good car, it really will be a catch – particularly as it comes with a five-year warranty.
Prejudice says the Korean-made Aveo will be a cheap, nasty, second-rate product concerned more with cost-cutting than driving pleasure … so prepare yourself for a rather pleasant surprise.
Yes, the two petrol engines are feeble — so weak, in fact, that you’ll wonder if the 99 horsepower of the 1.4 is measured in sickly ponies rather than stallions. However, the Aveo’s honour is more than adequately salvaged by the excellent turbodiesel unit. This is the popular General Motors/Fiat unit that gives sterling service in many modern small cars, and in this guise it develops a healthy 94bhp (there is also a 74bhp version) and a lot of torque. It even sounds and feels smoother and more refined in this application than in most others, giving the Aveo an easy turn of speed with relaxed cruising and surprising overtaking urge.
That effortlessness extends to the way the Aveo lopes confidently over bumps and through bends, just as the better small cars of French origin used to do 20 or so years ago. The electric power steering is crisp and stodge-free in its response to driver inputs, and, all in all, the Aveo is a good car to drive — especially in view of the humble 95g/km CO2 emissions of the Eco diesel variant.
For a compact car it’s quite big, affording its occupants ample space and particularly good headroom.
The Aveo bucks the current dashboard design trends by grouping its instrument dials in a small, neat cluster akin to a motorcycle’s. Interior fit and finish are admirable, and while some of the plastics look a little low-rent, all trim seems to have been assembled with care.
The fact that you sit at almost MPV height quickly kills off the motorcycle allusion, and the Aveo’s next pleasant surprise is the amount of kit it provides for the price. Even the middling-specification LT has Bluetooth connectivity, air-conditioning and electric windows.
The one to buy
Chevrolet Aveo 1.3 VCDi Eco LT
- £12,795 (correct at first publication)
- 1248cc, 4 cylinders
- 94bhp @ 4000rpm
- 140 lb ft @ 1750rpm
- 5-speed manual
- 0-62mph in 11.7sec
- Top speed:
- 78.4mpg combined
- Road tax band:
- L 4039mm, W 1735mm, H 1517mm
Chevrolet Aveo used car rivals for similar money