What is it?
This is the new Chevrolet Aveo hatchback, the first in a series of cars based on GM’s small car architecture, as revealed at this autumn’s Paris motor show and due to go on sale in the UK next summer.
The platform has been developed in Korea, using a large number of European engineers, and will go on to spawn an MPV, an SUV and the next Vauxhall Corsa. But for now we’ve driven the Aveo 1.3 turbodiesel hatchback, which will probably make up the bulk of UK sales.
What’s it like?
The Aveo’s barrel-style ‘lens-less’ headlamps, familiar-looking twin grille and sculpted bonnet lead into sleek, wide-tracked, narrow-bodied car, whose roofline stays surprisingly high as it runs up to the rear window.
The packaging is excellent for the size, providing not just a big leap up from the previous model but serious competition for rivals such as the Hyundai i20 and Skoda Fabia. The rear seats will comfortably accommodate six-foot adults and, because of the unusally shaped rear doors, the access is extremely easy.
The tall, 270-litre boot is not big, but should hold a reasonable amount of real-world luggage, thanks to its sensible proportions.
Behind the wheel, the (left-hand) driving position is also impressive, with a wide range of adjustment in the seat and well placed pedals. Much of the minor switchgear is familiar from the Vauxhall Insignia, although the elegant look of the centre console is spoiled by two small vertical storage bins to either side of the central vents and what Chevrolet describes as a motorcycle-style instrument binnacle, which looks completely out of place.
Forward visibility is good, but we were unable to confirm whether the large C-pillar disrupted the view to the rear due to the full camouflage our car was wearing to protect Korean sensibilities.
There’s no clatter from the 1.3-litre, Polish-built turbodiesel, and it only becomes vocal at high revs. It has a low-end flexibility that the new 1.2-litre petrol unit sorely lacks, and lends itself to relaxed driving with minimal gear changes at motorway speeds.
The 95bhp diesel unit will be available in the UK six months after the Aveo’s launch, and comes with stop-start and a six-speed manual box as standard. Unusually for a stop-start diesel, there was no juddering as it spun up when you depressed the clutch.
Driving a pre-production car on foreign roads is never going to replicate a British driver’s experience, but South Korea’s winding ‘B-roads’ showed that the engineers have succeeded in injecting a degree of European tautness into the car’s dynamics without damaging its compliant ride.
Should I buy one?
At the moment you can’t buy one, as we’ve managed to get behind the wheel of a very early car, but initial signs are promising. Chevrolet won’t reveal pricing yet, but has confirmed it intends to compete head to head with the i20 in the UK, and on price against the Ford Fiesta. If that is the case at launch then the turbodiesel could prove a worthy adversary.