new Aveo in town for 2012. And it’s far more determined to be noticed.
The new car’s face is certainly a mean and purposeful looking thing, with its quad chrome-ringed lamps standing proud, doing without the usual flush glazing. The bonnet’s leading edge adds a hooded, bird-of-prey squint, while the wide double grille looks distinctly hungry.
The sharp style continues at the side, where the car’s van-like profile is disguised by chunky, angular forms designed to suggest forward thrusting motion. The wheel arches are crisply defined, and the plunging shoulder line combines with a large, rising crease at the base of the doors to make the Aveo appear longer and lower than it actually is.
While an undeniably good job has been done outside, the interior is not so clear cut. We liked the T-shaped dashboard that swoops down between the front seats. It’s surfaced with a soft, pale grey plastic with a technical grain that also sweeps onto the tops of the doors, but most of the other plastics in the cabin aren’t nearly so nice to look at or to touch.
The stereo in all but the bleakest model is well prepared for modern life, offering various ways to hook up music players and phones. It was relatively easy to pair an iPhone with the car and stream audio over a Bluetooth wireless link, for example, or there’s a USB/jack-plug combo in the glovebox.
Rear seat accommodation is relatively generous for this class of car, partly because the Aveo is slightly longer and wider than class benchmarks like the VW Polo and Ford Fiesta.
Chevrolet also beats VW and Ford on price, competing head on instead with more keenly priced superminis from manufacturers like Kia and Hyundai. The Aveo range starts at an attractive £9,995 for a base-spec 85bhp 1.2-litre petrol model and stretches to £13,615 for a more fully equipped 94bhp 1.3-litre diesel (before options). All models get aircon and all have five doors.
On the road, the petrol engines were disappointing – the two diesels, offering either 74bhp or 94bhp, are much better bets, even if they are slightly more expensive. Of all the variants we tried, the clear leader was the 1.3 VCDi Eco, which comes in mid-range LT trim and offers a remarkable official consumption score of 78.4mpg and a CO2 rating of just 95g/km. It is thus exempt from road tax and can be registered for free entry into the London Congestion Zone.
Most surprisingly of all, this frugal Eco edition is the quickest of the new Aveos to 62mph, completing the sprint in 11.7 seconds. Flat out, it will manage 108mph. It costs £12,795 and won’t need too much of a splurge on the options list to create a tolerable package.
The ride is not as sporting as the exterior style might suggest. It’s relatively soft and comfortable, and as a result the tallish body will lean quite a bit if you try to carry a lot of speed through bends.
There’s quite a lot to like about this new Chevy, and the Eco edition Aveo is certainly keenly priced for a car of its all-round capability. If it weren’t for the uncomfortable seats, it would get a big thumbs up from City Car News. But if you’ve got a spine like a steel rod, the Aveo is definitely worth taking for a spin.