What is it?
There are several answers to this question. One is that the Epica is the UK’s cheapest six-cylinder saloon. Another is that it’s a cut-price competitor for Ford Mondeos, Renault Lagunas and Vauxhall Vectras. Yet another answer is that the Epica is a direct rival for budget family cars such as the Kia Magentis, Hyundai Sonata and Skoda Octavia.
Whatever your view, the Chevrolet Epica 2.0 LS is a large saloon for a small amount of money. For the price of a mid-spec Ford Focus you get a smooth 141bhp six-cylinder engine, a near-Mondeo-sized interior and as much spec as a top-end Mondy.
What’s it like?
Pretty good. We road-tested the top-spec diesel autoback in April, and came away generally impressed, but disappointed by the combination of turbodiesel and six-speed auto ‘box. We felt that the cheaper versions would be better.
Well, we weren’t wrong. The impressive build quality remains, as does most of the useful standard equipment (air-con, wheel-mounted stereo controls and electric mirrors are all thrown in).
To that, though, you can add a surprisingly refined 2.0-litre straight six and the knowledge that you’ve paid four grand less for the privilege.
The performance isn’t mind blowing and the engine does feel a little gutless at low revs, but once you wind it up past 4000rpm, there’s and almost-sporty growl and a surprising amount of shove.
It’s a bit of a shame then that the gearshift (as in the new Aveo) feels like it’s in the wrong place, and that the steering feels a little dull-witted.
Still, this car is not exactly about door-handle scraping action, and nor will its buyers be. As a terrific-value, spacious and refined vehicle, the Epica has few rivals and fewer peers.
So should I buy one?
Despite its appeal, the Epica remains a niche vehicle (Chevrolet only expects to sell 500 a year in the UK, of which the petrol version will be in the minority).
The thing is, if you’re after a six-cylinder engine, you’ll probably buy a BMW. If you want a large family saloon at a bargain price, then a year-old Ford Mondeo or Mazda 6 will be mighty tempting. And if you want to spend Ford Focus money on a family car, then why not buy a Ford Focus?
So if it has to be new, has to be a six-cylinder petrol, and has to offer huge amounts of sheet metal for the money, then go for it. Otherwise, there are better options out there.