This revised baby hatch wants to take on the big boys, but Sharleen Banzon thinks it is still in need of a growth spurt

"/> 2009 Chevrolet Aveo 1.5 Hatchback review | Drives | Top Gear Philippines

2009 Chevrolet Aveo 1.5 Hatchback review

This revised baby hatch wants to take on the big boys, but Sharleen Banzon thinks it is still in need of a growth spurt
by Sharleen Banzon | Apr 19, 2010

 

Chevrolet_Aveo_A.jpg

I generally prefer male friends. I don't mean to over-simplify guys when I say they're easier to get along with, but that's just the case. When they're in a bad mood, I can buy them a beer, then offer to lend an ear when they're less inclined to punch somebody or talk in a caveman's gibberish.

It's not all smooth-sailing with guy pals, though. From experience, I'd say they're particularly infuriating at the onset of puberty, the way they'd suddenly insist on being the leaders in patintero or agawan-base--because boys are just "better" at such games. Then in a few months' time, they'd be refusing to join in altogether, because they're "too old and cool" to be running around in the streets.

I guess adolescence is but an inevitable period of overcompensation and pretense -- you blunder your way through it to learn things meant to prepare you for full-fledged adulthood. In lots of ways, the Chevrolet Aveo reminds me of the chaps I grew up with, back when they, at 12, were all too eager to take on the world -- only to discover that the world is a lot to reckon with.

The exterior, for instance, incorporates contours and sharp creases in an attempt to be muscular. The effect on the physiognomy is pre-pubertal at best. The Aveo aims to be as sporty as the leading subcompact hatches in the market, but the quasi air intakes on the A-pillar are overkill. Thankfully, designers didn't attempt to slap on anything bigger than 15-inch wheels, which are the best match for the suspension setup of MacPherson struts up front and torsion beam at the rear.

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Inside, the gray-and-black color scheme is a welcome reprieve. Overall, the fit-and-finish exceeds expectations. The plastic surfaces don't feel cheap, and the four-speaker audio system--which can play CDs and MP3s, and has an auxiliary input jack--provides good sound quality. The seats are passable, and the considerable amount of legroom at the rear allows for a comfortable-enough ride for backseat passengers.

The steering wheel could've been a bit thicker, and the gearshift a bit shorter. But if there's anything that could use some improvement in keeping with the sporty theme, it's the engine itself. The roar from the exhaust is strained, sort of like a pubescent boy trying to lower the pitch of his voice, and failing.

Considering that the Aveo is fitted with a 1.5-liter lump, accelerating is a painfully slow ordeal. You have to rev long and hard to get a decent amount of pull, and this doesn't help achieve good fuel economy figures. True, a city car doesn't need gobs of power and torque, but it's reassuring to know your car can churn out quick bursts of speed when you need it--like when you're in the middle of an intersection and the light turns yellow.

All in all, this Chevrolet is a serviceable--but not really an awe-inspiring--ride. It just needs to grow out of this awkward phase, so to speak. A livelier powerplant and several shots of testosterone ought to do the trick.

Source: Top Gear Philippines, January-February 2009

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