Bigger engine gives less value

Just like the original Daewoo version, the Chevrolet Matiz is now available with a 1.0-litre four-cylinder engine as well as the 796cc three-cylinder we tested recently. It’s solved the three-cylinder’s lack of power – its 65bhp offers a noticeable improvement on the road.

Where the 0.8 feels short of breath, the 1.0 continues to pull, and the figures confirm the punchier feel; the 1.0’s 14.1sec to 62mph plays the 0.8’s 18.2sec.

While eager to rev, the four-cylinder can sound a little coarse through the final thousand rpm. And with 10mm wider tyres, the 1.0 offers acceptable grip levels.

The Matiz’s performance is adequate for its target market; more important are its abilities in an urban environment. With compact dimensions, especially the slender width, the Matiz is easy to thread through gaps, although the turning circle is no better than a Fiat Panda’s.

With the entry level 0.8 you only get one trim level – spartan. But opt for the 1.0 and you get the choice between SE or SX. The £6595 SE tested here (expected to be the biggest seller) adds electric front windows, door pockets, a storage bin under the passenger seat and extra speakers.

The SX also gets air-con, side airbags and electric rear windows. But at £7695, it’s over £1000 more.

For the price of the SE you could get either the Fiat Panda 1.1 Active or Kia Picanto 1.1 LX (both £6295) and still pocket some change. The Matiz matches the Panda for equipment (topping it with a three-point seatbelt in the central rear seat) and is more frugal, but fails to match the Panda’s on-road manners or interior finish.

The Kia boasts better fuel economy still plus air conditioning and electric windows front and rear.

The Matiz has one final trick up its sleeve; three years’ free servicing. While the prospect of no bills is certainly attractive, for our money it wouldn’t be enough to persuade us out of the excellent Panda.

Jamie Corstorphine

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