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Chevrolet Aveo 1.2 LT

Click to view picture gallery“The name Chevrolet usually makes
  people think of one of two things:
  Don McLean singing about driving
  his Chevy to the levee in American
or the brand
s greatest muscle
  car, the Camaro...

IN THE UK Chevrolet is better know for its V4M (value-for-money) certainly the 11.5K Aveo five-door hatch we've just tested offers supermini motoring at competitive prices.

Actually, it comes with a well-hidden bonus because while it's a well-executed (albeit decidedly non-muscle car) package, it's also unexpectedly well engineered and drives agreeably well. You might buy an Aveo based on your budget, but that doesn't mean you won't have a bit of fun punting it around.

What's equally pleasing is its economy. Three engines are available: a very able new 1.2 petrol-drinking four-pot with 84bhp and 85lb ft of torque at 4,000rpm (as reviewed here) that does 60.1mpg in the combined cycle; a slightly thirstier 1.4 petrol that ups power to 98bhp (and torque to 96lb ft) while still returning 53.3mpg; and a 95bhp 1.3 turbodiesel that officially manages 68.9mpg. Stop-start is fitted as standard and helped our 1.2 hard-driven Aveo to an overall average of 41.5mpg.

“The Aveos distinctively rakish face owes
much to its exposed
two dual tubes each
side, with high-gloss
black bezels
and chrome rings.
Wearing Chevrolet's gold 'bow tie' badge, the Aveo's five-door bodyshell is fronted by a distinctively rakish face — capped by a sculpted bonnet and flanking a large double grille are exposed circular motorbike-inspired headlights: two dual tubes each side, with high-gloss black bezels and chrome rings.

The tail lamps echo the look of the front lights, and the tailgate is distinctly finished-off with a body-coloured spoiler that runs along the top and down the sides of the rear window. The rear door handles are another natty touch — they're almost invisible at the rear upper section of the door.

Like most current superminis — all of which seem to grow more maxi every year — the Aveo stretches to a shade over four metres in length or, for those of you without a tape measure, that's about Volkswagon Polo size.

Thanks to a wheelbase that's closer to a Golf's than a Polo's, the Aveo's cabin is airy and more than accommodating — despite being not quite as wide as a Fiesta (the Chevy, however, is taller), it's roomy in the front and there's enough space in the back for three adults side-by-side although two would be more congenial, especially as there are only two rear headrests; the centre position is liveable and there are three sets of three-point belts. Three teens would fit nicely. Rear cabin headroom is good even for adults who prefer to sit up straight rather than lounge; and legroom is also good even with tall adults seated up front.

The well shaped cloth-upholstered front seats' long bases provide good under-thigh support, so no surprise that they proved comfortable over long trips. The driver enjoys a driving position that's more commanding than a saloon's, helped by a reach- and rake-adjustable wheel, plenty of seat height adjustment and front belts that also adjust for height.

The biggish windows ensure there are no complaints about visibility from anyone; and the driver gets good views of what's happening behind. Reversing is not a problem either, thanks to short front and rear overhangs and the upright tail treatment which makes easy work of judging where the Aveo ends.

“Highlight of the cabin is
the nicely flowing dash
and centre stack — instantly noticeable for
its out-of-the-ordinary but
very effective motorbike-
inspired instrument
Highlight of the cabin is the nicely flowing dash and centre stack — instantly noticeable for its out-of-the-ordinary but very effective motorbike-inspired instrument binnacle.

The combined analogue rev-counter and digital speedo (incorporating a driver's information screen) is both fun and practical — the large ice blue on black graphics ensure you only need the quickets of glances to take it all in and, better still, the clarity is not burnt out by the sun on a bright day. The usual driver information is available (average mpg, range, etc), accessed via buttons on the indicator stalk. Fuel is indicated on a vertical bar graph.

Storage places are pretty abundant too, with large pockets either side of the central air vents, dual-usage cup-holders alongside the handbrake, an open tray atop the centre stack, bottle-holding door pockets and two separate gloveboxes. The top one has Aux and USB sockets and two-tiered storage for safe out-of-sight connectivity of iPods, smart phones and other electronic devices, all of which can be operated using the steering-wheel controls or radio interfaces.

Considering its value-for-money price, the Aveo LT comes with all the essential kit including electric front windows (wind-ups in the rear), AirCon (does very cold, very quick), cruise control with speed limiter, multi-function steering wheel, CD/radio, Aux-in and USB connections, power heated door mirrors and a glasses holder above the driver's door (the other three get damped grab handles), a Driver Information Centre, Bluetooth phone compatibility with music streaming, and alloy wheels. And there's no shortage of safety items either, with electronic stability control, six airbags and the reassuring endorsement of a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

You'll find that the Aveo's 'final frontier' — space — is both easily accessible and more accommodating than its compact footprint might lead you to expect: the boot will take 290 litres of luggage but drop the 60:40 split/fold seatbacks and the regular-shaped boot becomes a flat-floored 653-litre cargo bay. Loading is easy with a low load lip and high-opening tailgate.

“This latest Aveos
all-new chassis
is amongst the most rigid
in its segment, and it shows — this Chevy
got a satisfying tidiness
about it and it's
all nicely predictable
when pressing on.
You can lift the boot floor to access extra storage space or, alternatively, remove the floor panel altogether to add another five inches in height for carrying taller objects. Below the lower floor is a puncture repair kit with more room for stuff in the deep tyre well. A nice touch: the rigid parcel shelf-cum-luggage cover is easily removed and stows neatly behind the rear seatbacks.

The Aveo also rides very well — its supple ride owes as much to the suspension as it does to the 195/65 Continental rubber wrapped around its 15-inch double-spoke design alloy wheels, smoothing out not so good road surfaces and taking the 'bump' out of speed humps.

As the same time, body control is good — although smooth-riding, the suspension is taut enough to serve up enjoyable handling that, while it might not be the sportiest in its class, should not be underestimated either. This latest Aveo's all-new chassis is amongst the most rigid in its segment and it shows — this Chevy's got a satisfying tidiness about it and it's all nicely predictable when pressing on.

The steering is fine in city traffic yet is weighted enough to help the Aveo flow accurately through twisty bends. Driven as enthusiastically as it's 84bhp permits, it can be hussled without any hassle. It might only have 1.2 litres under its bonnet but it runs with the traffic smoothly enough; and if you want to push on then making the most of its game 84bhp is stirringly easy thanks to the five-speeder's polished gear change action.

All-in-all a well-priced supermini that's easy to live with in town, is quiet and relaxing at speed on the open road; and pleasing to drive to the levee and everywhere else. We'd buy one! —

Chevrolet Aveo 1.2 LT | 11,535
Top speed: 107mph | 0-62mph: 13.6 seconds | Average Test MPG: 41.5mpg
Power: 84bhp | Torque: 85lb ft | CO2 111g/km