Chevrolet enters the compact crossover segment with the boldly styled and well equipped Trax

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Is Chevrolet finally beginning to turn its image around? For decades, this company defined itself as exclusively, unapologetically American, and the rest of the world didn't really figure in the game plan. Consider one of its most famous ad taglines: 'Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet'. Which wouldn't have gone down particularly well in Berlin. Or Birmingham.

Now its fortunes are on the up in Europe, and in the same way that nobody smirks at Kia anymore, people don't assume you line-dance at weekends if you rock up in a Chevy (well, not many of them do).

Cars like the Trax are a part of Chevy's transition

To any European, the engine range will look like familiar territory. There's an entry level 1.6-litre petrol with a miserly 113bhp, a more potent 138bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol and a 128bhp 1.7-litre turbodiesel. There are just two trim levels, LS and LT, but Chevrolet reckons that virtually everyone will opt for LT trim. There's only one engine on offer in LS trim, and that's the weedy 1.6 petrol, so we'd have to agree with their assertion.

No, the default engine, as with virtually all competitors in the B-segment SUV market, is the diesel. It offers the best combination of performance and economy, with a non-too shabby claimed combined fuel consumption of 62.8mpg. And the least expensive two-wheel-drive only version is the 1.7 LT VCDi.

That model isn't cheap, but it is one very well equipped car. Chevrolet's MyLink with smartphone connectivity and a 7-inch display features, as does a reversing camera, 18-inch alloys and much more. It's the pick of the range, and while it lacks all-wheel drive, the Trax isn't much cop off-road anyway. So unless you live in a snowbelt, the extra cost for four-wheel drive doesn't look like it's worth it.

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The hottest petrol variant is the petrol LT 1.4 T AWD. That's the 138bhp turbocharged model, only available in all-wheel drive. Unsurprisingly, it's the second most expensive Trax after the LT 1.7 VCDi AWD range-topper.

Inside all models you'll find reasonable space with good head and legroom for four adults (officially it's five, but that would be a bit of a squeeze). And the Trax does the usual flex-seating thing, with even the front passenger seat folding flat so you can carry objects nearly 2.3 metres long. The only slight caveat is that the boot is a bit on the small side with all the seats upright. However, fold the rear seats down and you've got a 1370 litres of space.

There's one more caveat, too. Chevrolet has said that the UK will be getting its own chassis tuning, which is a good thing as the European left-hand-drive Trax simply isn't good enough. The company promises much improved handling and steering, but if refinement and ride comfort are high priorities for you, you'll have to bear with us as we wait to get our hands on a right-hand-drive car in the UK. But we're hopeful, because the Chevrolet Aveo is proof that the company can do competitive ride and handling.

So here it is, another Chevrolet that's taking the fight to Europe. Sure, the brand still does 'apple pie and hotdogs' with cars like the V8 Chevrolet Camaro, but it's also serving up dishes that Michel Roux Jr. might just recognise.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

Chevrolet Trax 2013-2015 First drives