From £14,220
Impressive build quality and standard spec, but still a niche vehicle

Our Verdict

Chevrolet Cruze

The Chevrolet Cruze raises the bar for Chevrolet, but not for rivals including Skoda, Hyundai or Kia

19 May 2008

What is it?

There are several answers to this question. One is that the Epica is the UK’s cheapest six-cylinder saloon. Another is that it’s a cut-price competitor for Ford Mondeos, Renault Lagunas and Vauxhall Vectras. Yet another answer is that the Epica is a direct rival for budget family cars such as the Kia Magentis, Hyundai Sonata and Skoda Octavia.

Whatever your view, the Chevrolet Epica 2.0 LS is a large saloon for a small amount of money. For the price of a mid-spec Ford Focus you get a smooth 141bhp six-cylinder engine, a near-Mondeo-sized interior and as much spec as a top-end Mondy.

What’s it like?

Pretty good. We road-tested the top-spec diesel autoback in April, and came away generally impressed, but disappointed by the combination of turbodiesel and six-speed auto ‘box. We felt that the cheaper versions would be better.

Well, we weren’t wrong. The impressive build quality remains, as does most of the useful standard equipment (air-con, wheel-mounted stereo controls and electric mirrors are all thrown in).

To that, though, you can add a surprisingly refined 2.0-litre straight six and the knowledge that you’ve paid four grand less for the privilege.

The performance isn’t mind blowing and the engine does feel a little gutless at low revs, but once you wind it up past 4000rpm, there’s and almost-sporty growl and a surprising amount of shove.

It’s a bit of a shame then that the gearshift (as in the new Aveo) feels like it’s in the wrong place, and that the steering feels a little dull-witted.

Still, this car is not exactly about door-handle scraping action, and nor will its buyers be. As a terrific-value, spacious and refined vehicle, the Epica has few rivals and fewer peers.

So should I buy one?

Despite its appeal, the Epica remains a niche vehicle (Chevrolet only expects to sell 500 a year in the UK, of which the petrol version will be in the minority).

The thing is, if you’re after a six-cylinder engine, you’ll probably buy a BMW. If you want a large family saloon at a bargain price, then a year-old Ford Mondeo or Mazda 6 will be mighty tempting. And if you want to spend Ford Focus money on a family car, then why not buy a Ford Focus?

So if it has to be new, has to be a six-cylinder petrol, and has to offer huge amounts of sheet metal for the money, then go for it. Otherwise, there are better options out there.

Matt Rigby

Join the debate


20 May 2008

In other words, it's yet another piece of American automotive rubbish that they're trying to offload to some undiscerning numbskulls in the UK. Why do they bother?

20 May 2008

20,000 minicab drivers cannot be wrong though, can they?

Where has all Japanese design went to?

21 May 2008

[quote theoriginalshoe]In other words, it's yet another piece of American automotive rubbish that they're trying to offload to some undiscerning numbskulls in the UK.  Why do they bother?[/quote]

Er, no. Not really. The Epica is neither American, nor rubbish.

It might have an American badge, but this is a car that's been designed and engineered in Korea (which also has no bearing on how good it is, by the way).

As for being automotive rubbish - nothing could be further than the truth. It's not brilliant, but if you happen to be one of the people looking for a cheap, spacious, comfy and new multi-cylinder car, there are near enough no other options.

So they're not trying to offload 'em to undiscerning numbskulls, just a few people with very, very specific requirements, and there's nothing wrong with that.

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