Honesty and a down-to-earth character can still take you places, it seems. This may appear to be at odds with the superficial world we live in today, but the evidence, presented here in the instantly forgettable shape of the Chevrolet Aveo LT sedan, points to the fact that there are still a big number of people out there that place a premium on solid, no-nonsense values. The Aveo, which can trace its roots back to Daewoo compact cars such as the Lanos, is a big seller for Chevrolet and General Motors SA and deeper investigation soon reveals the reasons.
Big-car features for Chevrolet AveoAlthough the Chevrolet Aveo is very competitively priced, it nevertheless boasts some features you may usually only expect to find on bigger, more expensive cars. Climate control in a budget sedan is a big surprise, as is leather upholstery. The Chevrolet Aveo LT boasts both of these, in addition to electric windows and mirrors, fog lamps, remote central locking and a radio/CD player. Unfortunately the latter almost manages to spoil the surprisingly upmarket package because it is one of those old removable face-type systems, not a factory built-in unit.
Notwithstanding the aftermarket look of the audio system, there remains a sense of sitting in something of substance when sliding onto that leather seat for the first time. The cabin trim is predominantly black, but there are well-placed silver-painted sections to break the monotony. The instrumentation is comprehensive and neat, and there’s even a distance-to-empty meter, which is not a given in this segment. The driver’s seat is height adjustable, and the steering wheel can move up and down. In both instances the range of adjustment is somewhat limited, but the driving position is not too compromised, perhaps just a tad too high for some taller drivers.
Rear legroom is probably among the best in this class and the sensation of spaciousness is enhanced by the large glass area of the windows. The boot, too, is one of the biggest in this class and contains a full-size spare. This is all very important because it means the Chevrolet Aveo sedan is a genuine family friendly proposition.
Good economy, sufficient powerThe Chevrolet Aveo LT is powered by Chevrolet’s E-Tec 1,5-litre, four-cylinder engine. There’s nothing special about this powerplant, and the outputs are relatively meagre, with only 62 kW and 128 Nm of torque being available. As with all E-Tec engines, the priority is to have enough torque on hand over a wide rev range, and to be as economical as possible. A 0-100 km/h time of 12,1 seconds is to be expected given the power outputs, but in reality the Chevrolet Aveo doesn’t feel that lethargic, and most of the target audience won’t care anyway. Far more important for them will be the news that it’s a nicely tractable little engine that responds keenly to throttle inputs higher up the rev range without the need for constant gear shifting. The five-speed manual transmission, by the way, is also generally precise and crisp in its shift action. And the economy? Well, an average of 8,0 litres/100 km may not seem that impressive these days, but the reality is that this figure is achievable, and can be bettered quite easily.
Chevrolet Aveo is a comfortable cruiserThe Chevrolet Aveo suspension has certainly been tuned with comfort top of mind. Its ability to glide over bigger bumps is almost SUV-like, in fact, and it retains this suppleness at higher speeds too, which makes it a very comfortable car to be in over longer distances. Unfortunately this softness is combined with relatively narrow track widths and seemingly not too much anti-roll ability built into the suspension. Consequently, there is a lot of body roll, which can be unnerving when pressing on, especially seeing as the electrically assisted steering is also neither the most communicative nor the most accurate in this class. No, this car prefers a take-it-easy approach, and when driven in such a manner will be an enjoyable road trip companion. In terms of safety, it boasts ABS to help avoid accidents, and dual front airbags in case you don’t.
Chevrolet Aveo - VerdictIt’s easy to ridicule seemingly forgettable cars such as the Chevrolet Aveo as having no place in the modern automotive landscape. But it’s not only the Aveo that continues to confound this logic. The Toyota Corolla, too, continues to sell well, while being as colourful as a cup of Horlicks. For many cash-strapped South Africans, the basics are still a priority. And these the Chevrolet Aveo do very well. It doesn’t pretend to be a stylistic masterpiece, nor does it attempt to be a fun car to drive. No, it offers economical, comfortable, spacious motoring in a package that is well-priced and seemingly very reliable. Yes, there’s still common sense left in the world.
· Honest value
· Build quality
· Standard features
We don’t like:
· Forgettable looks
· Body roll
· Aftermarket audio system
Engine: 1,5-litre, four-cylinder, petrol
Power: 62 kW @ 5 600 rpm
Torque: 128 Nm @ 3 000 rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Wheels: 14-inch alloy
Top speed: 177 km/h
0-100 km/h: 12,1 seconds
Fuel economy: 8 litres/100 km
· Toyota Yaris T3+ Sedan: Although the Toyota only has a 1,3-litre petrol engine, it delivers more eager performance. The rest of the package is more modern than the Aveo, too, and it is particularly the refinement and ride comfort that impress. A service plan is standard.
· VW Polo Classic 1,6 Trendline: The Polo is a classy offering, even though it lacks much of the features offered by the competition, including air-conditioning and an audio system. A service plan is also optional. Has a bigger, more powerful engine, so performance is livelier.
· Hyundai Accent 1,6 GLS HS: The Accent has matured into quite a stylish, well-specified offering. In its latest guise it offers a blend of power and standard specification that is not easily matched in this segment. The boot is spacious, too, and a service plan is included.