Chevrolet Aveo 1.3 VCDi Ecodiesel review

* Diesel version of Chevrolet's new supermini * Price 12,795-13,615; on sale January * 78.5mpg; 95g/km CO2...

Chevrolet Aveo 1.3 VCDi Ecodiesel review

What is it? The Aveo is Chevrolet's answer to the Ford Fiesta, and it'll aim to win buyers by providing lots of space and equipment at an affordable price. It arrives here in January

We've driven the new Ecodiesel version, which should make the Aveo as cheap to run as it is to buy.

What's it like to drive? Power comes from a 1.3-litre engine, which provides a healthy sounding 94bhp. Stick some revs on the dial, and it feels pretty healthy, too. Sure, it won't break any land speed records, but it accelerates eagerly enough for what it is.

The news isn't so great when you let the revs drop below 1750rpm; the engine feels decidedly flat off the bottom, so you'll often need a downshift or two to maintain your momentum up steep hills. Still, it doesn't feel as lazy as some eco-focused diesel superminis we've tried.

The Aveo has the edge on many of them for engine refinement, too. It's reasonably quiet at a steady cruise, and you're not subjected to a barrage of vibration every time you pick up the pace.

Wind- and road noise are also pretty well controlled, although you can hear the suspension working over patched-up surfaces.

Poor roads also make the car feel a little fidgety, but the suspension does a reasonable job of smothering bumps.

Modest dimensions and light steering ensure that the Aveo is pretty easy to manoeurvre in town.

Unfortunately, the steering isn't so good when you're going faster; it doesn't weight up enough and is slow to react, forcing you to make frequent corrections to keep the car going in a straight line.

You also have to put up with a fair amount of body lean in bends, but there's enough grip to ensure the car always feels secure.

What's it like inside? The Aveo has the edge on most superminis for interior space. The high roofline translates into plenty of headroom in all five seats, and there's enough legroom to satisfy tallish adults, even in the back.

The 290-litre boot is a similar size to those in most other superminis, but there's an annoying lip that you'll have to haul heavy items over. Split-folding rear seats let you maximise your luggage space. It's just a pity the backrests don't quite lie flat.

Life is pretty good at the helm, because there's lots of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel, and the big windows provide good all-round visibility.

The dash has big, clearly labelled buttons, so everything is pretty easy to find and use. However, the motorcycle-inspired design of the instrument cluster means it could be easier to read.

The quality of the Aveo's interior isn't up there with the best superminis, either, because many of the plastics feel cheap and flimsy. That said, just as many of the Aveo's plastics don't, which shows that Chevrolet is on the right track in its efforts to improve the perceived quality of its cars.

Should I buy one? We can see plenty of reasons why you might. Prices for this version of the Aveo start at 12,795, which is a full 1100 less than you'd pay for the cheapest Ford Fiesta Econetic.

The Chevy is likely to come with a lot more standard equipment, too. Final UK specifications are still to be announced, but we'd be very surprised if all versions didn't have air-conditioning, alloys, electric front windows, remote locking and a USB-compatible stereo with Bluetooth.

What's even more important for buyers of this Eco-focused version is that it matches the Fiesta on running costs.

Both cars return an impressive 78.5mpg, and with CO2 emissions of 95g/km, you'll qualify for zero road tax, escape the London Congestion Charge and pay company car tax at a rate of just 13%.

The thing is, though, the Fiesta is just so much better to drive it's more comfortable, more manoeuvrable, more fun and more flexible. The interior quality is better, too.

For us, that's easily worth the extra you pay for it. However, plenty of cash-conscious buyers could well decide that the saving you make by choosing an Aveo is one worth taking.

Ford Fiesta Econetic
Renault Clio 1.5 dCi Eco Pack

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