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?
This is the new 3-door Chevrolet Aveo, the car that it’s using to appeal to a younger audience - a ‘sportier’ proposition than the 5-door model we’ve already seen.
From launch the UK will have only one three-door Chevrolet Aveo model, which gets an 83bhp 1.2-litre engine and a decent standard spec that includes electric windows, side airbags and a CD-player with auxiliary input for the all-important MP3 player.
What’s it like?
It’s not sporty. When you’ve ignored that optimistic claim, you’ll find that the Aveo is a compact but spacious car that offers decent comfort and refinement for a competitive price.
Styling is intended to be a big draw for prospective Aveo buyers, and to these eyes at least, the three-door offers better proportions and a more appealing (if very similar) look to its five-door sibling.
The interior is an equally big improvement over the Chevrolet Kalos, and is identical to the five-door. Most of the materials feel of higher quality than you might expect of a car competing with the likes of the Hyundai Getz and Suzuki Swift. The switchgear, in particular, feels well put together.
Unfortunately the engine suffers from a lack of low-down torque, which doesn’t peak until it hits 84lb ft at 3800rpm meaning that the five-speed manual gearbox and the right-hand pedal must be used ruthlessly if you want to make spirited progress.
However, it’s a pleasant if uninspiring car to drive and though there’s plenty of engine buzz in the higher reaches of the 6200rpm rev range, the cabin is well enough insulated that the noise isn’t intrusive.
The the left-hand-drive Aveo coped admirably well over Poland’s dire road surfaces – cobbles were a relief after the dirt tracks and cracked tarmac.
Body roll can be slightly disconcerting over the most severe roads, but the Chevy supermini should easily cushion its occupants from anything the UK’s roads can throw at it.
Interior packaging is not class best in the Aveo, but it does have enough rear passenger space Load capacity is a useful minimum of 220 litres, stretching to 980 litres with the 60/40 seats folded flat.
Entry to the rear seats isn’t any less problematic than with other three-door models in this class. As any buyer with the remotest concern for practicality would pay the extra £550 required for the five-door, the occasional inelegant crawl into the rear seats shouldn’t be a major concern.
Should I buy one?
If you have no desire for an engaging drive, and simply want good spec, decent interior space and budget price then the Aveo 3-door is an excellent choice – especially given the ageing competition in this small segment.
However, it’s a good thing that Chevrolet only plan to sell 1000 three-doors in the UK, as saving £550 in return for living with the impracticalities of a three-door in a car that looks so similar to its five-door equivalent is difficult to justify. For that reason we’d dig a little deeper and opt for those rear doors.