Chevrolet Aveo pretty impressive small car

Chevrolet's new Aveo is a good-looking spacious, well-priced supermini, says Andy Russell.

It was the way my father looking at the supermini and questioned what we were going to drive to London in.

I told him we were taking the Chevrolet Aveo to which he pointed that it was only a small car.

And that is the misconception facing some superminis these days – some people still find it hard to accept that little cars can do the job perfectly well on our traffic-clogged roads.

We were travelling four-up with a bit of luggage and he was finding it hard to believe that we and it would all fit in but I have to say the Aveo did us proud.

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This second-generation budget supermini is a pretty little thing with twin motorcycle-inspired headlamps and concealed back door handles aimed at giving it a coupe-like styling although I have to say you need a good imagination.

OK, it's not going to set the world alight – it hasn't got the class of Volkswagen's Polo or the dynamics of the Ford Fiesta but as value transport for people on a budget the Aveo is worth looking at. For it is competitively priced and well equipped while a five-year or 100,000-mile warranty gives peace of mind and adds to the appeal.

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Power comes from all-new 86PS 1.2-litre and 100PS 1.4-litre petrol engines and 75PS and 95PS 1.3-litre turbo diesels which are making their Chevrolet debut in the Aveo.

I drove the 1.2-litre petrol unit, expected to be the big seller, which will trickle along at low revs in slow-moving traffic but doesn't have much low-down pull so it needs to be worked hard to make the most of the performance, especially travelling four-up which accounted for not seeing much more than 40mpg overall regardless of whether I was running around or cruising although I got 50mpg with a conscious effort to be economical. Fortunately it picks up crisply in the mid range and, once wound up, will maintain a 70mph cruise with relative ease although you are always aware of the engine note in the background – enough to have you cranking up the radio/CD's puny volume to near maximum to hear it clearly.

Chevrolet boasts the Aveo was designed to be sporty, engaging and enjoyable to drive but the suspension is more biased towards ride comfort than dynamic driving but that's no bad thing in a supermini runaround.

The supple suspension makes for a smooth, absorbent ride and does a good job of soaking up the thump of potholes and raised manhole covers. Handling is well-mannered in normal driving but press on and body roll builds through corners and the electric power steering loses some of its feel. But the biggest issue was noticeable tyre noise, particularly on corrugated concrete motorways, which became quite wearing especially with the audio system's volume struggling.

The Aveo is a supermini that can carry four large, tall adults very comfortably – five at a squeeze for short journeys – with a spacious cabin that has plenty of legroom in the back, without front passengers have to sacrifice some, while the tall roof gives decent headroom.

Not only did we carry the four adults but the well-shaped, deep-side 290-litre boot quite easily took two medium-sized suitcases, a couple of soft bags and four coats without having to remove the parcel shelf, although you do have to lift loads over the quite high sill. Rear seat backs split 60/40 and fold flat but leave a big step up from the boot floor.

Chevrolet has done a good job of making the cabin a pleasant place with soft curves on the fascia and textured trim but the hard plastics show how it has kept the cost down. That said, it feels well screwed together with good fit and finish and no annoying squeaks or rattles. And I liked the motorcycle-inspired instruments with a big round dial rev counter flanked by a digital speedo, bar fuel gauge and driver information display – all clearly visible through the steering wheel –and two rows of warning lights above and below. Simple rotary knobs control the heating and ventilation system while the audio system has large, user-friendly buttons.

Cabin storage is particulary good with big front doorbins, a twin glovebox and useful cubbyholes in the centre console and fascia for odds and ends. The driving position is fine but the seats are a little soft but still reasonably supportive on a long run.

Available in LS, LT and LTZ trims, the entry model includes air-conditioning, cruise control, remote locking, electrically-adjustable heated door mirrors and electric front windows. LT adds 15in alloy wheels, steering wheel audio controls, trip computer and Bluetooth connection. LTZ gains front fog lamps, six speakers, rear parking sensors and automatic headlamps.

Superminis are becoming increasingly attractive in these cost-conscious times as motorists look to reduce their running costs. The Aveo looks good, is spacious, well equipped and competitively priced which makes it even more attractive.

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