First DriveThe luke-warm Chevrolet Sonic RS is a nod towards a hot hatch for the American market. It may get a European launch, but is unlikely to bother the class-best
First DriveThe Chevrolet Aveo marks a big step forward for the brand, although this petrol version isn't as appealing as the diesel equivalent
What is it?
As the brand’s biggest-seller the Chevrolet Aveo is a major reason for Chevrolet’s global growth, which saw it scoring a record 4.76m sales in 2011.
Some of that is down to keen pricing, but the entry model’s £9995 price tag propels this all-new Aveo into a straight fight with lower-end Fiestas and Polos. And that’s stiff competition.
In this form the new Chevrolet comes with an 85bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine, a five-year warranty and an impressive standard kit tally that includes air conditioning, cruise control, electric mirrors and remote locking.
Another £1000 buys the LT tested here, which gains a four-way adjustable wheel, 15in alloys, Bluetooth and steering wheel-mounted controls. You also get a contemporary-looking hatchback of somewhat conservative style, a commodious cabin by class standards and five NCAP stars.
What you don’t get, however, is the material quality of mainstream superminis. The Aveo’s dashboard has some sculptural style, but the cabin is constructed from multiple silver-grey plastics that go unrelieved by soft-feel tactility or even a slash of cloth. Black carpets and grey seats underline the downmarket aura.
What’s it like?
Driving the 1.2 doesn’t provide much performance compensation either. Extracting energy from this engine is like pumping toothpaste from a tube that’s one squeeze away from the bin.
Late torque delivery is the culprit, the peak arriving at 4000rpm, and there’s not a whole lot of it. That doubtless explains the absence of a sixth gear, which it would struggle to pull.
However, the Aveo’s chassis is decent here, as explained in our road test of earlier this month. The car resists understeer well, and the suspension deals with most lumps and bumps with comfortable assuredness.
Should I buy one?
The diesel Aveo is without doubt the one to have; better real world performance and economy makes it worth the premium, if you can run to it. But even the baseline petrol represents a significant step forward from Chevrolet’s risible old Daewoo Kalos-based supemini.
Chevrolet Aveo 1.2 LT
Price: £10,995; Top speed: 107mph; 0-62mph: 13.6sec; Economy: 60.9mpg; Co2: 111g/km; Kerbweight: 1064kg; Engine: 4-cyls in-line, 1229cc; Power: 85bhp at 5600rpm; Torque: 85lb ft at 4000rpm; Gearbox: 5-speed manual.