Chevrolet Aveo 1.3-litre diesel review

* Diesel Chevy Aveo driven on UK roads * 68.9mpg; 108g/km CO2 * Priced from 9995-13,615...

Chevrolet Aveo 1.3-litre diesel review

The Chevrolet Aveo is a five-door supermini that's meant to steal sales from the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa. We've driven the top-of-the-range diesel Aveo, which comes with a 94bhp 1.3-litre engine and costs 13,615.

What's it like to drive? Turn the key and you could be forgiven for thinking that the engine was firing on three cylinders instead of four; it's noisy at idle and only gets noisier when you set off. Despite the racket, though, the cabin remains relatively free of vibrations.

Performance is lacklustre below 1750rpm, but once past this you can make reasonable progress. It's just a shame the six-speed manual gearbox is imprecise.

The steering is light, which makes life simple when reversing into a parking space, but it's devoid of feel. It remains light at speed, which doesn't inspire confidence when you leave town and head for twisty B-roads; you're never quite sure what the front wheels are doing.

That's a shame, because body control is pretty good. Roll is well controlled and the ride, while firm, isolates occupants from the majority of road scars; you can hear it working over motorway expansion joints, though.

In many ways the Aveo is at its best at higher speeds. Peak torque is delivered from 1750-2500rpm, and at 70mph in sixth gear you're slap bang in the zone. As a result you rarely have to change down for inclines or to overtake.

Engine noise is less of an issue on the motorway, too, although that's mainly because road noise takes over. Wind noise is kept to a minimum.

What's it like inside? Roomy and ideal for tall occupants; the driver's seat adjusts for height while the steering wheel moves for reach and rake.

Two adults will be reasonably happy in the back, too; the Aveo can take three in the rear, but tight shoulder room means you'll need to keep your journeys short.

The Chevrolet's 290-litre boot is average for the class. There's underfloor storage (the partition is removable) and even space in the spare wheel well (you get a tyre repair kit), while the rear seats split 60/40 and fold.

The centre console is attractive and well laid out, with chunky, rubberised ventilation controls. Soft-touch plastics don't get a look-in, but everything feels well assembled and there are cubbyholes and steering wheel controls for the stereo and cruise.

The motorbike-inspired instruments ahead of the driver consist of a large rev counter and a digital speedo. They're clear enough, but are at odds with the rest of the interior. Their blue backlighting is dazzlingly bright at night, too.

Forward visibility is generally good although the windscreen pillars can obstruct your view at roundabouts but thick rear pillars can make life tricky when parallel parking.

Should I buy one? Range-topping LTZ trim provides four electric windows, auto lights, a six-speaker radio/CD with MP3 connection, natty 16-inch alloys, front foglights and rear parking sensors. Unfortunately, the price is high at 13,615.

The 1.3 VCDi Eco LT is a more attractive proposition; it's 1000 less, but still gets goodies such as air-con and Bluetooth. It also uses the same 1.3 engine, but switches the six-speed gearbox for one with five ratios. Torque drops a little, to 140lb ft at 1750rpm, but so does the dash to 62mph, by nearly a second to 11.7sec.

Economy is a full 10mpg better than the LTZ's at 78.4mpg, while CO2 emissions drop by 13g to 95g/km, which means it's exempt from annual road tax and the London Congestion Charge.

The Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi 95 Edge Econetic 5dr is a much more accomplished all-rounder, however. Officially it costs 14,695, but our mystery shoppers have managed to knock off nearly 2k, making it cheaper than the LT. That's where our money would go.

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