From the Aveo range, we’ve driven the 1.2 S, which uses a 1206cc petrol engine making a respectable 83bhp at 6000rpm with 84lb ft of torque appearing at 3800rpm. It's no Chevrolet small-block, but it does the job.
There’s also a 1.4-litre petrol unit which produces 99bhp at 6400rpm along with 96lb ft at 4200rpm, and a 1.3-litre diesel with 94bhp, or 74bhp in Ecodiesel form. Gearboxes are either manual five-speed, as tested, and five and six-speed autos (both available with the two larger capacity engines).
Like most economy-minded diesels, the Aveo 1.3 VCDi comes with a five-speed gearbox with quite leggy ratios. And like most such diesels, you don’t need to stir the ’box too much to make very decent progress.
Although 94bhp might not sound like much, the engine’s accompanying peak torque is 140lb ft and it is developed from only 1750rpm. So it gets going quickly and keeps going linearly, while the gearshift, when you do have to use it, is relatively slick.
Diesels are not noted for their brisk acceleration times, so even though the two-way average of 11.4sec to 60mph that the Aveo recorded at MIRA is credible, the in-gear response is better still. Apply full throttle in third at 30mph and you’ll hit 50mph in a relatively easy 5.1sec. Do the same from 50mph in fourth and 70mph comes up in 9.2sec. Neither is a blistering time, but they’re respectable enough when you consider how little fuel this car sips while getting along.
So making decent progress takes very little effort, as does maintaining motorway speeds. Refinement is decent as well. It’s natural that a 1250kg supermini doesn’t have the same sophistication to its sound-proofing as cars from a class or two above, but against its peers it’s certainly respectable.
What this Aveo is really about, though, is economy rather than performance. With common-rail injection and a variable-geometry turbo, the unit is the same as you’ll find in Vauxhall’s Corsa Ecoflex, and here it offers sparkling frugality. Even during our performance testing, we barely coaxed it to return less than 30mpg.
On our touring route, which accurately mimics an ordinary – not slow – motorway cruise, the Aveo returned an excellent 67.7mpg, while on average it gave us 51.1mpg. That includes our testing at MIRA, so most buyers should expect a figure comfortably into the 50s.