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Review

First Drive: Chevrolet Aveo 1.3D car review

11/11/11

WITH small cars getting bigger, something Chevrolet’s Aveo remains just the right size for the urban crawl and slotting in impossibly small parking spaces. It’s a town car that knows its place, and with the addition of diesel power it now has the legs to take long motorway journeys in its stride.

The petrol engines offer more than enough performance – especially the 1.2 – while the five-door body makes it easy to access a child in its child seat in the back, proving that the Aveo can double as compact family car.

By offering a diesel motor, Chevrolet has subtly improved the Aveo’s chances in the eyes of downsizing buyers seeking a small car with big aspirations on the travel front. The official economy figure is a headline-grabbing 78mpg from the 94 horsepower 1.3-litre unit. Of equal importance is the car’s CO2 performance, which is a lowly 95g/km. and perfect for dodging city congestion charges.

Many years have passed since the transition from Daewoo to Chevrolet, and the interiors of modern Chevrolets are significantly better these days. Furthermore, the past few years have seen a gradual and welcome shift for the better, and the Aveo is a good example of what’s been achieved.

Chunky controls and solid-looking plastics dominate the Aveo’s cabin. Up front the car’s seats are supportive and look durable, while those in the back are no less attractive and equally hard wearing. Of similar importance is the general ambience, which is far removed from the dour, budget-spec environment of old.

What you get now is an uncluttered, easy to use fascia and controls, plus plenty of room for occupants. On the first point, the Aveo’s various dials and controls are intuitive and located where you expect them to be. Everything works well and the mix of analogue and digital has been executed well.

At the rear there’s a good size boot plus there’s the ability to fold the rear seats to boost its carrying capacity. Overall, despite its size, the Aveo is surprisingly practical machine. It easily fits the bill as a first car, but would also cope well as a stepping stone to something bigger if you’ve started a family but funds don’t allow you you to make the leap straightaway.

On the road the Aveo is something of a surprise, or at least it will be to any skeptics out there: this car is fun to drive. You normally expect such cars to do the A to B thing with little fuss and not much else, but the Aveo does it with enough enthusiasm to shame some of the more established players in the compact car market.

It’s not a difficult to car to drive thanks to the assistance available from the steering and brakes. That said, there's still enough weight and feedback from the main controls to encourage the occasion bit of spirited driving.

And despite the car’s lack of length, the Aveo copes well with road imperfections; the ride is never choppy around town and feels stable and refined at motorway speeds. Even twisty roads don’t upset the compact Chevrolet, with the weighty steering and supple suspension making life easy and rewarding in equal measure.

As a rounded performer Chevrolet’s Aveo is a sound and sensible proposition. There’s no question that the competition at this level is tough, but the little Aveo offers a good mix of refinement, driver enjoyment and space to make itself heard.

Some armchair experts will say that small, diesel powered cars rarely make sense as the average driver won’t rack up enough miles to make it pay. For some that might be true but it’s worth noting that adding a diesel option to something like an Aveo adds a welcome extra dimension if you travel on motorways or regularly carry passengers.

With its extra slug of torque and lower revving character at high speeds, the diesel Aveo is a relaxed motorway cruiser with plenty in reserve for overtaking. The same is true when traveling on fast A-roads, as there’s no longer a need to book an appointment in your diary before overtaking slower traffic.

Of course, there’s the added bonus of low fuel consumption and tax-dodging CO2 levels with Chevrolet’s 1.3-litre engine. That this particular model is keenly priced and well equipped makes the calculations that bit easier when considering switching from petrol to diesel power.

Overall, though, this Aveo offers a good mix of low running costs and performance. Since its launch, Chevrolet’s boldly styled supermini has proven that it can cut it in what’s a fiercely competitive market sector, and the addition of a diesel variant does much to further boost its appeal.

FACTS AT A GLANCE? Model: Chevrolet Aveo 1.3D LT, from £12,795 on the road.? Engine: 1.3-litre diesel unit developing 94bhp.? Transmission: 5-speed manual transmission as standard, driving front wheels.? Performance: Maximum speed 108mph, 0-62mph 11.7 seconds.? CO2 emissions: 95g/km.

?Economy: 78mpg.

  • Enginesdiesel
  • Power3 (average performance)
  • 0-60 mph
  • Economy4 (better than average fuel economy)
  • CO2g/km
  • Insurance groups3 (average costs)
  • Airbags
  • Seats5

Motors.co.uk value verdict:    stars

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