Chevrolet is perhaps best known for its hulking great 4x4s and huge-engined sports cars, but it’s also partial, in the UK at least, to churning out small family cars such as the Aveo. The latest edition of the Aveo is an interesting proposition, as it offers edgy, progressive styling, high economy and low emissions, and a price tag that should cause a splash in its segment. We tested the £13,695 Chevrolet Aveo LTZ 1.3 VDCI (95PS) with manual transmission.
Aesthetically, the previous Aveo was somewhat forgettable, so we’re pleased to see Chevrolet has made a solid attempt to spruce things up. This model sports aggressive motorcycle-inspired front and rear light clusters and has a sharper, more sculpted look overall. It’s not as sporty-looking as a Fiesta, nor as classy as the retro modern Fiat 500, but it’s not a car that will shame you into wearing a balaclava as you drive it.
The Aveo’s interior design is tolerable — just. It lets itself down with a quite hideous digital speedometer, which lives inside an instrument binnacle resembling a cheap alarm clock from a bygone decade. We weren’t too keen on the bulky centre console, either, which looks like an incongruous hand-me-down from one of Chevy’s larger vehicles. The plastics used on the dashboard and door panels are of a budget nature, though some clever texturing makes them look and feel more premium than they actually are.
There’s plenty of space inside the Aveo, both at the front and rear. Provided the driver and front passenger aren’t averse to pushing their seats forward, it’ll happily accommodate four six-footers — although not in total comfort. The front seats don’t provide quite enough support and there’s not an awful lot of flexibility in the way they can be adjusted, so it can take a while to find a comfortable position. The seats at the rear, meanwhile, are rock solid, so this isn’t a car you’ll want to be stuck in on long journeys.
The Aveo’s boot space is pretty average by class standards. It provides 290 litres of usable room with the seats up, which is par for the supermini course, but a paltry 653 litres with the seats folded down. In contrast, the Ford Fiesta offers 979 litres of seats-down space, while the cavernous Honda Jazz provides a whopping 1,320. It’s not all bad news, though. The Aveo’s rear seat bottoms fold up to create a large vertical load space in the rear cabin — which is great for carrying large potted plants and other unusually tall loads.
Performance & handling
The Chevy Aveo’s performance varies from ponderously slow to just about tolerable, depending on which engine you choose. The 1.2- and 1.4-litre petrol models are the most tedious of the bunch, registering 0-60mph in 13.4 and 13.1 seconds respectively. The three 1.3-litre diesel engines on offer are slightly punchier, with the Earth-friendly 95PS Eco model providing the most thrills. With this lump, the Aveo will achieve 0-60mph in 11.7 seconds, which is almost a full second quicker than the “non-Eco” 95PS diesel and a full 2.5 seconds quicker than the 75PS diesel.
The lack of straight line urgency is offset slightly by the Aveo’s commendable handling. The car is surprisingly agile and never balks at being thrown into a corner, either with enthusiasm or stupidity. It grips well, stays flat enough during cornering and changes direction rapidly and without drama. Its ride is supple, too. The suspension does a decent job of cushioning your bones as the car traverses rough roads. It’s so well balanced and so difficult to upset, in fact, that it almost feels slightly dull given its lack of power.
Economy & environment
As we’ve said, the Aveo’s fastest, most powerful engine is also the cleanest and cheapest to run. The 1.3-litre diesel 95PS model spews CO2 at a rate of 95g/km and achieves a very impressive 78.4mpg on the combined cycle, which means it punches in the same class as the segment-leading Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TDI Bluemotion, and is also faster in a straight line. The Aveo’s 1.2-litre petrol engine is surprisingly thirsty, with fuel economy of 47.9mpg and emissions of 138g/km. Despite its £2,700 premium, the 1.3-litre Eco model is cheaper to run in the long term.
Equipment & Value
The Aveo comes in LS, LT and LTZ trim levels. All versions feature cruise control, power steering, a radio and CD player with MP3 support, heated door mirrors, and air conditioning. The LT model swaps the 15-inch steel wheels for alloys and adds chrome grille surrounds, a folding ignition key, two 3.5mm auxiliary inputs for your portable audio player plus Bluetooth hands free and wireless audio streaming.
The all-singing LTZ model trades the 15-inch alloys for 16s and adds chrome headlight surrounds, a driver armrest, leather steering wheel, a rear heater vent so rear passengers get warmer faster, electric rear windows and a chrome beltline. It also boosts the speaker count from four to six — not that you’d really notice. It’s possible to have a relatively normal conversation in the Aveo, even with the volume at full blast.
The Aveo may be small, but it comes laden with a comprehensive assortment of safety features. There are front, side and roof curtain airbags, electronic stability control, child proof locks, and a brake assist system that applies the full force of the brakes if the car thinks you’re trying to do an emergency stop but aren’t pushing the middle pedal hard enough.
Overall, the Aveo keeps its occupants very safe. It scored an impressive 95 per cent in the Euro NCAP adult occupant safety rating and 87 per cent for child occupants, racking up an overall 5-star score. It’s not particularly safe for pedestrians, however. Its 54 per cent Euro NCAP pedestrian rating suggests anyone who gets run over this thing had better have a good surgeon on standby.
The Chevrolet Aveo is great little car — provided you pick the right version. There are a couple of duds in the group but nab yourself the 1.3-litre Eco diesel in LT trim and you’ll be onto a winner. It’s nippy, handles and rides well, and has a decent level of equipment. It’s also cheaper than rivals such as the Volkswagen Polo 1.2 Bluemotion and Ford Fiesta. As a result, in this guise at least, it’s a very good buy.
Model tested: Chevrolet Aveo LTZ 1.3 VDCI (95PS)
Engine: 1.3-litre diesel
Acceleration: 0-62 in 11.7 seconds
Top speed: 108mph
Emissions: 95g/km CO2