Chevrolet Aveo driven

* New supermini targets Ford Fiesta * Prices from around £9500 * Diesel engines available for first time...

Chevrolet Aveo driven

What is it?

Seven years after Chevrolet returned to the UK with a range of rebadged Daewoos, this is the final model in its line-up to be completely renewed. It will go on sale in September from around 9500.

The Aveo isn't just a new Chevrolet; it's built on a new GM platform that will form the basis for the next Vauxhall Corsa.

The Aveo is available as a five-door hatchback and will come with a choice of at least two petrol engines a 1.2 and 1.4 are confirmed, but the company is still deciding whether or not to also bring in a flagship 1.6 as well as 1 1.3 diesel engine, a first for an Aveo in the UK.

What's it like inside?

In the front, there's plenty of room for a couple of six-footers. There's reach and rake adjustment for the steering wheel and height adjustment for the driver's seat, so it's easy enough to find a decent driving position.

In the back, too, there's good head- and legroom. Three adults could squeeze in just. Access is good, though, thanks to the square shape of the rear doors

The 290-litre boot is only slightly smaller than the Ford Fiesta's, while the shape is nice and square. The only annoyances are the lip that you have to lift luggage over and the fact that the 60/40 split rear seats don't sit level with the rest of the boot floor when you drop them.

The cabin plastics are hard and quite nasty to the touch - particularly across the top of the dashboard and door trims. They spoil what is otherwise a decent, well-built cabin.

The dash display (including the digital speedo and rev counter) won't appeal to everybody, although the centre console's big buttons and easy control are easy to use.

What's it like to drive?

The basic car comes with a 1.2-litre engine and it's only just up to the job of hauling the Aveo around. The trouble is not just that it's fairly weak, but also that it does its best work high up in the rev range. It takes a while to get there, as well as making a lot of noise when it does. Even in town, this version can feel slow.

The 1.4-litre unit is more powerful, but it still needs plenty of revs to do its best. That said, it's the easier of the two engines to drive in everyday use and cruises comfortably enough on the motorway albeit with rather more noise in the background than is ideal.

Generally, the Aveo has a smooth ride, but there's no doubt that British roads will pose a far greater test than the Swiss roads in our test.

As for the handling, the emphasis remains on comfort. There's a fair bit of movement in the suspension, which translates into quite a body roll in bends. In a series of bends, the body sway can struggle to keep up with the changes of direction.

As a result, the Aveo is certainly not as much fun or as thrilling to drive as the Ford Fiesta, and it naturally forces you into a more laid-back style of driving.

On the other hand, if you're not such an eager driver, you'll have nothing to worry about. Instead, you'll appreciate how easy the Aveo is to manoeuvre, thanks to the light steering, well-weighted controls and decent visibility.

What Car? says

A very respectable supermini, but it won't trouble the very best cars in its class.

Also consider