31/01/2012 14:38 | By Sean Carson, contributor, MSN Cars

Chevrolet Aveo 1.2 LT review (2011 onwards)

Chevrolet Aveo 1.2 LT 2011 (© Chevrolet)
  • Chevrolet Aveo 1.2 LT 2011 (© Chevrolet)
  • Chevrolet Aveo 1.2 LT 2011 (© Chevrolet)
  • Chevrolet Aveo 1.2 LT 2011 (© Chevrolet)
  • Chevrolet Aveo 1.2 LT 2011 (© Chevrolet)
  • Chevrolet Aveo 1.2 LT 2011 (© Chevrolet)
  • Chevrolet Aveo 1.2 LT 2011 (© Chevrolet)
  • Chevrolet Aveo 1.2 LT 2011 (© Chevrolet)
  • Chevrolet Aveo 1.2 LT 2011 (© Chevrolet)
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Chevrolet Aveo 1.2 LT

Model: Chevrolet Aveo 1.2-litre LT
Bodystyle: five-door hatchback, supermini
Engine: 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol, 86hp @ 5,600rpm, 85lb ft @ 4,000rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Date of test: January 2012

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MSN Cars' top superminis

What is it?
Gone is the old Daewoo-based platform of the previous Aveo and in comes an all-new chassis based on Chevrolet's latest 'subcompact' global platform. A competent supermini and on paper, the 1.2 LT-spec Aveo offers good economy and strong value.

It's a head turner, too. With the coming of the new platform Chevrolet has given the Aveo some seriously chunky styling, managing to combine the solid looking designs of some of its American-market vehicles, but tuning the aesthetics to give a more European flavour.

Chevrolet Aveo 1.2 LT (© Chevrolet)

Where does it fit?
The Aveo is available in three trim levels - LS, LT and LTZ - and the standard levels of kit Chevrolet is offering will certainly prove a big draw for buyers looking for a compact hatchback that's cheap to buy and run.

For a fiver under £11,000 you can pick up an Aveo LT that comes equipped with cruise control, multi-function steering wheel, 15-inch alloy wheels, electric windows, Bluetooth connectivity and an MP3-compatible stereo as standard.

For similar money to the mid-level Aveo LT, buyers would only be looking at a Ford Fiesta Style five-door (£10,895) or Vauxhall Corsa S 1.2i five-door (£12,400) and neither vehicle's standard specification compares with the Aveo's more upmarket features.

Is it for you?
Although the looks might not be to every buyer's taste, there's no denying it's a striking car. If you're after a well equipped, cheap to run supermini that's solidly built - albeit not the last word in refinement - then you'll be pleasantly surprised by the little Chevy.

The 86hp 1.2-litre unit - the engine Chevrolet believes will be the volume seller in the Aveo range - revs sweetly and provides adequate performance with 62mph taking 13.6 seconds; by comparison, a similarly powerful Fiesta or Corsa takes 13.3 and 13.6 seconds, respectively.

The 95hp 1.3-litre Eco diesel is also a notable performer. At 11.7 seconds to 62mph, it's quicker than the 1.2 petrol, and also delivers a decent - and crucially, useable - 140lb ft of torque between 1,750 and 2,500rpm.

Chevrolet Aveo 1.2 LT (© Chevrolet)

What does it do well?
Thanks to both engines' relatively spritely - if a little noisy - character, the Aveo is nippy around town where it counts, just like a proper supermini should be.

On the whole, it rides well, too. It feels a touch floaty at motorway speeds, but at lower speeds wheel control is decent and harsh bumps from scarred sections of tarmac are damped out nicely.

Despite some roll in the corners it'll hang on to a respectable level if you don't ask too much of the front end, bleeding into understeer when pushed. In urban settings, though, the handling is just right with the Aveo easy to place on the road.

The small Chevy is also safe, receiving a full five-star EuroNCAP crash safety rating. Six airbags - driver and passenger, roof-rail and side-impact - come as standard, while the Aveo's cruise control with speed limit function helps to improve the car's safety rating in the eyes of the EuroNCAP assessors.

What doesn't it do well?
One of our criticisms of the Aveo is that the interior plastics have a slight budget air about them and don't feel quite as tactile as the competition - it's not as refined as say a VW Polo or as stylish and interesting as a Ford Fiesta inside.

While the rev counter is fairly clear, the LCD speedo readout and plastic surround looks cheap - given it's something you'll probably be looking at a lot we might have hoped for a bit more quality.

No engine and gearbox combination in the new Aveo range could be described as having particularly outstanding performance, but that said, the Aveo is on a par with the competition.

Chevrolet Aveo 1.2 LT (© Chevrolet)

What is it like to live with?
Cheap plastics or not, it feels generally well put together and has decent cabin ergonomics; the steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach, visibility is good and buttons are sensibly placed. The controls all feel solid, too, and in LT and LTZ trim, equipment levels are excellent.

After a few miles you get the sense that covering significant distances in the Aveo wouldn't be a problem as it's comfortable and well appointed.

The cabin is roomy in the front with a feeling of more headroom than any other car in its class. Room in the back feels as good as the competition, while boot space stands at 290 litres, rising to 653 litres with the split-folding rear seats down.

How green is it?
With a claimed combined fuel economy of 60.9mpg, the 1.2-litre Aveo betters the Ford Fiesta's 50.4mpg and the Vauxhall Corsa's 51.4mpg by a decent amount - over a year it'd certainly add up.

Two other engines in the Aveo line-up are also worth noting for their environmental credentials, albeit for entirely different reasons.

Thanks in part to standard-fit start-stop technology, the 1.3-litre Eco diesel offers claimed fuel economy of 78.4mpg combined and a road-tax-free 95g/km CO2, meaning it'll be wallet as well as environmentally friendly.

On the other hand, the 1.4-litre six-speed automatic isn't particularly economical or efficient, on paper returning a claimed 44.8mpg and 147g/km.

Would we buy it?
The 2012 Chevrolet Aveo is anything but an also-ran in the highly competitive compact hatchback market. It offers an interesting blend of looks that won't be to everyone's tastes, but at least it proposes something different to the fairly generically styled crop of superminis out there.

It's brilliantly equipped for the price and is a solid performer on the road. We reckon it'd be an easy and relatively rewarding car to use day-to-day, too, given the 1.2-litre petrol's blend of low running costs (Aveos start from insurance group 5), strong levels of equipment and solid, if not inspiring, performance.

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First drive: Chevrolet Aveo
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