Chevrolet Aveo 1.2

The old Daewoo Kalos has come a long way; it's now a revamped Chevy Aveo. But don't even think about the posher 1.4 as the little 1.2 version is much more fun


SPECIFICATIONS



Model: Chevrolet Aveo 1.2


Price: from £7,500 approx. On sale from May


Engine: 1,206cc, four cylinders, 16 valves, 84bhpat 6,000rpm, 84lb ft at 3,800rpm


Transmission: five-speed gearbox, front-wheel drive


Performance: 107mph, 0-60 in 13.0sec, 51.4mpg official average. Carbon dioxide 132g/km

Globalisation. Or, as those who invented the idea would have it, globalization. By all means let's share the Western-world dream with all those less fortunate, but it will be on our terms. Obviously; why shouldn't it be?

If you're American, it seems obvious that Chevrolet should be a global brand. Others might not see it that way, but when the neo-Chevrolets used to be Daewoos then even the greatest cynic of things Stateside can see the advantages of a name-change. That was completed about three years ago, and since then the cars that were Daewoos at the time General Motors rescued the failed Korean company have mostly been replaced.

The most recent such replacement concerns the car you see here. The former Daewoo Kalos supermini became the Chevrolet Kalos in 2005, but in the New World it was always called the Chevrolet Aveo. And now it has had a bit of a remake, with a new nose in Chevrolet's current style, a revised interior and a general tidy-up. Naturally, it is also renamed Aveo, which means the same car finally has the same name everywhere.

Further burying of the Aveo's roots comes with its new 1.2-litre engine and the news that, from July, those destined for the European market will be built at the former FSO factory in Warsaw, which used to make the woeful Fiat-based Polonez . The theme, though, is ports.

Ports? Yes, ports as in entries to channels. The new Chevrolet face has a "dual port" front grille, its sections divided by a horizontal bar bearing a Chevrolet "bow-tie" badge (my bow tie doesn't look anything like it, but then neither are my kidneys shaped like a BMW "double-kidney" grille, as far as I know). And the 1.2-litre engine has "TwinPort" induction.

Oops, I've just confused the branding. This system of closing off one of each cylinder's two inlet ports at low speeds, to raise the speed of incoming air and so fill the cylinders more efficiently, is called TwinPort only in Vauxhalls and Opels. The Chevy now uses this same 16-valve engine, in place of a dozy eight-valver with 12 fewer bhp, but the gas-flow cleverness is described as Port Deactivation, or PDA. So when the salesman tells you the Aveo has PDA, don't expect a built-in personal organiser.

So why might you want an Aveo? Is it cheap, given that it wears the badge of General Motors' blue-collar, no-nonsense, global value brand? Prices will be announced when UK sales start next month, but they're likely to start around £7,500 and rise to about £11,000 for the top-spec Aveo with a 1.4-litre engine and four-speed automatic transmission. That means the cheapest version is indeed temptingly inexpensive next to rivals, especially given the likely perkiness of even the 1.2-litre engine which, at 84bhp, out-powers entry-level rivals. And the 1.4 manages 101bhp, which is quite impressive.

Expect a lively drive, then. But if you do, you'll be disappointed. I began with a manual 1.4 which, it is claimed, can reach 62mph in 12.4 seconds. Yet 23 years ago I ran, for a magazine, a 1.3-litre Vauxhall Astra with 75bhp which accelerated more quickly than that despite being a bigger car. True, cars are heavier today – the Aveo weighs about 100kg more than that old Astra – but a supermini with 101bhp should not be struggling on motorway inclines. And it's not as if the weight is there to help give marvellous crash protection: the Kalos scored a mediocre three stars in the EuroNCAP test and there's nothing to suggest the structurally identical Aveo will perform any better.

All told, the Aveo 1.4 is not an inspiring drive. The engine feels unwilling, the gearchange is clunky, the steering is woolly. At least it rides well over bumps, with the lolloping gait that used to be a French speciality. That many Aveos will be sold in Eastern Europe is why, as roads there tend to be rougher than those to their west.

That's with the exception of the UK, of course, which suggests the Aveo might work well here as we thread our way past the potholes, failed repairs and disintegrating edges.

So I wasn't expecting much from the Aveo 1.2. And that shows how wrong preconceptions can be, because it is much the better car. Obviously it's ultimately slower, but that matters little when the way the pace is delivered is so much more pleasing. The engine responds more crisply to the accelerator, so this Aveo feels perky and friendly.

Finding gears is a more tactile experience, and on the squidgier tyres that went with this lower-trim model's smaller wheels the ride feels yet more old-school French. It's hardly sophisticated but this Aveo has some charm.

And, derived from a Daewoo as it may be, the Aveo does look good. Giugiaro's Italdesign shaped the original Kalos and the update, with big, wrap-around headlights and round inserts in the tail-lights, is convincing. It's a tall supermini with plenty of space, and the new dashboard with its proper built-in stereo system (it used to be an aftermarket dealer add-on) looks modern and sophisticated. The top versions even get automatic air-conditioning, although the lesser models' manual system works perfectly well.

The surfaces are hard and the mouldings are no doubt inexpensive, but the effect is one of tidy functionality rather than poverty. It's a strange fact that with these cheap cars, the cheapest versions are usually the purest and the best, and opting for the posh version usually spoils the cohesion. So it is with the Chevrolet Aveo. A basic Aveo 1.2 is a good-value car with more style and charm than you might expect. Any other version misses the point.

THE RIVALS

Mazda 2 1.3 TS: £8,499
Cheapest version of the baby Mazda makes do with 75bhp, but it's a great-looking supermini with clever lightweight construction. Fun to drive, too. Recommended

Mitsubishi Colt CZ1: £8,021
People seem to overlook the Colt, which is a shame because it's roomy, looks ultra-modern outside and in, is ultra-easy to drive and is good value. This CZ1 has 1.1 litres and 74bhp

Skoda Fabia 1 1.2 6v: £7,990
No longer bargain-basement cars, Skodas exude the no-frills quality once VW's preserve. This Fabia's three-cylinder engine delivers its modest 59bhp with great character

News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

    £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

    C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

    £60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

    Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

    £75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport