Text: Tito F. Hermoso / Photos: Tito F. Hermoso | posted March 31, 2011 15:02
Chevrolet's have that "comfort food" home cooking character about them; reassuring, reliable and fuss-free. Inexpensive and cheerful. Take the 1.4 LT Aveo sedan. It's a perky, style-mit-function device undeniably practical in form. Its huge trunk, tall roof, vast room, sweeping dashboard etc. matches the default Vios values. But why aren't there as many Aveo taxis?
Having been in the lead for more than 70 years, General Motors would want to claw the number one spot back, whether it be from Toyota or Volkswagen. Through its Chevrolet brand, GM aims to match Toyota, and now Hyundai, model for model, anywhere in the world. Though barely over a year old, TCCI, [The Covenant Car Company Inc.] has remolded Chevy's image. If BMW has "Joy", Chevy has "Cheerful" written all over it.
The General in miniature
TCCCI have the green shoots, a microcosm of what GM truly is around the world. "Proper" SUVs? The dealers can't get enough of the Suburban. Genuine American muscle? The picky sports car community is wowed by the Camaro. Compact diesel SUV? Captivas are undeniably value for money. Of course, there's the Cruze, the compact that launched its new image here. The newly introduced Spark is carrying on the cheer nicely and so should the Colorado pick up, due soon after the 2011 Bangkok Motor Show.
Target : VIOS
Recognizing that the Toyota Vios sedan leads the sub compact segment in Asia, Chevrolet has positioned its Aveo 4-door sedan to be a worthy rival as the sub compact segment is no longer a two brand battle, even as Toyota keeps fending off strong rivals like Honda and Hyundai. Even before, Aveo was one of the first small cars that followed the "tall boy" look allied with raised seating positions. All this not only provide a sense of extra space and improved visibility, but it allows for better positioning of the mandated anti-crash intrusion door beams.
Daewoo + GM = Global
GM had the Italians work on the Aveo to make the Chevrolet bow tie feel at home on the grille and to keep some heritage relations to Opel, the other sub-compact car maker in the GM world. With short front and rear overhangs and a long wheelbase, it gives it a "chuckable" and nippy character that goes with market expectations for handling from sub compacts. Brakes that are stronger than the ASEAN norm are easy to get acclimatized to.
The Aveo ride is in the ASEAN idiom; firm body control rather than floating softness. Tourists familiar with airport rental Opels in Europe will not be feel estranged. A rider in the back will not have to bear with the irritating picayune jolts, bouncy tails and jiggles usually associated with small Korean cars. Over pockmarked roads, a muffled but audible thump, akin to the Germanic Ford Fiesta, is what one hears instead of a startling crash. Despite its light weight, the Aveo does not feel or sound tinny, the way some modern light cars do. Seats with good back and thigh support plus firm springing are another tradition that Korean makers have made the world expect as a given.
The Aveo, refreshed for 2011 already embodies the styling cues introduced in the brand new 2011 Spark. Even as the interior is now all black, the non-traditional textures and lots of glass does not make for an oppressive interior. To old fogies, the 4-spoke Aveo steering wheel with its thin rim and 4-spokes reminds one of the 1976 Mercedes 450SL's. Ditto for the ergonomic thumbwheels on the console.
Goodbye to the old, but...
This is a far cry from the first Daewoo based Aveos 8 years ago, when the brittle plastics conducted its own rattle concerto in deference to the stereo, in concert with the brittle ride. Performance of the first Aveo was politely called asthmatic.
The automatic shifters continues to make fools of those who do not read the instructions as the lever has to be pushed down in "P" in order to slot it out of the gate and into the "R-N-D-S-L" slots.
Paper weight clutch
The manual on the other hand, is traditional Korean light, positive on engagement and fluid of throws. The clutch is one of those paper weight ones that won't tax one's leg muscles in clutch-in-clutch-out stop and go traffic.
VGIS and hair trigger
The Aveo Sedan has a 1.4 liter 16 valve engines with Chevrolet's own VGIS form of variable inlet timing, instead of the more common 1.3-liter size. Euro 4 emissions standards take the kick out of jack rabbit starts in manual and even more so with the automatic, but the engine, like most low emissions multi-valvers, is willing to rev to high rpm. Fortuitously, GM has adopted the 1.4 to ASEAN cut-and-thrust urban driving tastes by adjusting the throttle body fuel feed to be a bit of a hair trigger. The manual does a rather thrifty 15.16km/liter on bio-ethanol unleaded, highway cycle, while the automatic does 13.78km/liter.
With such attributes, why, hasn't the taxi market paid attention to it? Why, indeed?