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FIRST DRIVE: Chev's booted Polo rival

2006-05-30 07:43

The new Chevrolet Aveo sedan

John Oxley

What's more pricing is essentially the same as that of the outgoing models, with the 1.5 LS version now just R400 up on that of the previous version, while the top-level LT gets additional features, including leather upholstery, which push its price up by R5 000.

Chevrolet brand manager Des Fenner told Wheels24: "The new design has very little in common with its predecessor.

"The only elements that have been carried over are large parts of the body platform, the windshield and the front side windows.

"As a result, the vehicle now differs optically even more clearly from the Aveo hatch version." Unique design

What he's saying is that, finally, Chevrolet - or more to the point its subsidiary GM-DAT in Korea - has moved the car away from being merely a booted version of the Aveo hatchback and into a sedan in its own right.

This applies particularly to the bold and powerful grille design, as well as the prominent "bubble" wheel arches and the smooth rear end.

The nett result is that it's strongly different from the Aveo Hatch, which continues unchanged - and will for at least the next 18 months to two years.

However one area that has not changed is the engine, and both 1.5 LS and 1.5 LT get the same 62 kW 1.5-litre SOHC eight-valve motor - a unit notable for its strong bottom end pulling power thanks to its torque of 128 Nm at a low 3 000 r/min.

As far as styling goes, other features include the stretched silhouette with its rising sideline, pronounced shoulders, and body-coloured door sills, further emphasised by the long outside door handles.

The grille is powerful and macho, with a strong slatted under-bumper air intake which includes fog lights on the LT version.

Macho look

Short overhangs (at the front, 833 mm, at the rear 997 mm), also help the sporty look.

At the back there are big triangular taillights, with a boot spoiler on the LT, and both versions get high level brake lights.

Inside the car is also completely redesigned, with a smoothly flowing dash panel and a heavily hooded instrument cluster in front of the driver.

The panel contains a large speedo and revcounter, flanking fuel and water temperature gauges, while the LT also gets a computer readout for fuel consumption and so on.

Trim levels are high, particularly on the LT, which gets aluminium trim on the dashboard and doors.

New fabrics

There are also new fabrics for the seats and door liners on the LS version, while the LT gets locally fitted leather.

The car's wheelbase of 2 480 mm is reflected in quite generous interior dimensions, with shoulder room of 1 362 mm at the front and 1 340 mm at the back.

Equally impressive are the front legroom of 1 048 mm (rear 898 mm) and the headroom of 998 mm (rear 955 mm).

Boot space is a useful 350 litres, and the rear seats fold forward in a 60/40 split.

Standard equipment includes air conditioning - climate controlled on the LT - power windows (front only LS), electrically operated exterior mirrors and central door locking.

The LS model boasts a radio with front loading CD player, while the top of the line LT model has a double Din radio (radio/CD/MP3) with six speakers as standard.

On the road

Getting comfortable is easy, thanks to a tilt-adjustable steering wheel as well as a height-adjustable seat, and I liked the excellent vision front and rear, with the front of the seat slightly raised to give the driver a better view of the traffic.

The engine is quite perky, and engine noise has been contained by some clever air intake box design to get away from the boominess sometimes associated with small four-cylinder engines.

Suspension on the Aveo sedans sees tried and tested McPherson struts with L-arms at the front and a torsion-beam axle suspension at the rear, and this has been tuned more for comfort than out and out sporty performance.

After all, it's aimed at young moms and families, as well as older folks, so comfort is more important than racing around corners.

That said, our route took us through Gordon's Bay in the Cape and along its famous and very scenic coastal road, and the Aveo proved more than capable of handling the tight bends and crazy switchbacks even when pressed hard.

Wide stance

Undoubtedly the wide stance of the Aveo with a front track of 1 450 mm and a rear track of 1 430 mm definitely help out.

The power-assisted steering system is speed-dependent, giving great "feel" at speed but light enough for easy parking.

Safety is a keypoint, and in addition to a strong body the Aveo also gets dual front air bags and four-channel, four-sensor ABS anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution.

All the seats are fitted with three-point safety belts. There are also head restraints and Isofix child seat fixtures.

The five-speed gearbox has good ratios, but it wasn't always the smoothest or most positive, the only point on the cars I could criticise. Maybe the cars were too new!

Chevrolet doesn't quote a 0-100 km/h acceleration figure for the car, although I can tell you it's capable of pressing on well if you hold the gears, and quoted top speed is 170 km/h.

The car has a 45 litre fuel tank, and 6.4 litres/100 km combined fuel consumption.

"We believe Aveo buyers will be people who are looking for a 100 percent concentrated vehicle that encompass all of these characteristics in one," said Fenner.

"This includes such target markets as young family buyers, middle income second car buyers and value seekers who want to get more mileage out of their income."

The car comes with a 3 year/100 000 km warranty, and maintenance and service plans are optional.


It looks as if Chevrolet has a winner with the new Aveo sedan.

Many South Africans prefer booted cars to hatchbacks, and this one presents good value for money in a package that's well put together and stylish.

Chevrolet has fared well in independent customer satisfaction surveys, and hopefully it will be able to maintain this as it moves towards its target of 75 dealers by the end of 2006 from just 14 when it re-entered the market in 2004.


Chevrolet Aveo 1.5-litre LS R110 690
Chevrolet Aveo 1.5-litre LT R129 000

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