Demi-semi-Chevy

The Chevrolet Aveo is back for another tilt at the supermini sector and it might have come of age.

It didn’t make a huge dent in the consciousness of supermini buyers first time round but you won’t miss this second generation model. With ultra-sharp styling it’s one that will turn heads.

The petrol engines are unexceptional and the preferable 1.4 doesn’t do so well on emissions. It’s still a very likeable city scoot though.

The latest Aveo certainly has distinctive and handsome styling going for it which, in the supermini market, counts for a lot. In a morass of lookalike, inoffensive blobs, the Aveo has some attitude, the barrel-like quad headlamps lending it real presence. The deeply sculpted flanks are also a good deal more dynamic than usual supermini fare, while the high roofline and kicked up tail end are both very well executed.

The interior continues the bold styling theme with a dashboard that’s quite unlike any of its rivals’. The main instrument cluster is inspired by sports motorcycles and features a round main clock housing an analogue rev counter with a rectangular digital display alongside where speed, fuel level, odometer and other data is displayed. After 15 minutes I still couldn’t decide whether it worked from a design standpoint but it’s nevertheless good to see somebody trying something different. The dashboard is also laid out rather oddly, with ventilation controls mounted beneath a pair of vertical storage bins that serve very little practical function.

Space inside is otherwise reasonably good, with a generous measure of rear legroom. Headroom can be a little pinched at the side, where the roof curves over. The front seats feel unusually substantial and comfortable for a budget supermini. The steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach, and the boot yields a sizeable 290 litres of space. Drop the 60/40 split rear bench and you have up to 653 litres for the tip run.

Trying to form a coherent assessment of the Chevrolet Aveo is hard. It’s a vehicle that is by turns engaging, frustrating and flat out puzzling. It looks as if it’s about to spit fire yet serves up decidedly modest performance, it’s certainly not boring.

Days after I drove it, I was still changing my mind about it. If you like a car that challenges your perception of what small cars should be and how they should perform, you’ll find plenty to think about with the Aveo. The trouble is, most supermini buyers aren’t going to approach their next vehicle purchase on the basis of such esoteric interest. They’ll be more concerned with a low asking price and sassy styling and on this basis at the very least the Aveo is a winner.