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Driven: Chevrolet Kalos 3-door - on sale now


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The re-launch of GM Daewoo as Chevrolet has prompted the arrival of a trio of new models in the UK. Dealers received the Lacetti Sport and Stationwagon in time for the grand launch at the end of January, and in March they will begin selling a three-door version of the Kalos.

While the five-door Kalos has been in the UK since January 2003 (sales last year totalled 3,400 units) GM expects the more sporty-looking three-door to broaden the car’s appeal. And it hopes to bring down the typical buyer age from 45+ to people in their late 20s and 30s.

The name Kalos is Greek for beautiful. The car certainly has style, and will compete for attention alongside the Citroen C2, Hyundai Getz or Suzuki Ignis. The interior is bright and airy, with decent head- and leg-room for front and rear occupants, and comfortable seats with front and rear headrests.

Retailers should expect to sell 2,500-3,000 units annually, with the lower-priced 1.2S the most popular thanks to its 3E insurance grouping. It comes with a good range of standard features, including speed-sensitive power steering, ABS with EBD, a height-adjustable steering wheel, tinted windscreen, electric windows and a CD player.

The more powerful 1.4SX gains air con, electric mirrors and remote central locking, plus a rear roof spoiler and 14in alloy wheels to increase its appeal to the younger market. Another major plus is Chevrolet’s complete car care package offered across the range. This provides three years’ free servicing, warranty and recovery.

The Kalos’s running gear was developed specifically for European conditions, and choosing Croatia’s roads for the press launch certainly demonstrates Chevrolet’s confidence in its setup.

The test route went from winding main roads to rutted mountain tracks, but it coped well throughout.

The only significant downfall is its sloppy gearbox – for a car that will mostly see urban use it gets very frustrating hunting for gears.

Strength: Decent looks, reasonable drive, aftersales package, low insurance
Weakness: Sloppy gearbox
Opportunity: A fresh start
Threat: Brand profile
The USP: A great badge on a Korean product
Price: 1.2S £6,995, 1.4SX £8,395
Engine: 1.2 8v SOHC, 72bhp; 1.4 16v DOHC, 94bhp
Transmission: 5-sp manual, 4-sp auto (opt on 1.4SX)
Performance: 0-62mph 13.7s/11.1s; top speed 98-110mph
Efficiency: 41.1-39.8mpg, 159-171g/km CO2
CAP RV (3/30k): 36-38% (est)
Rivals: Hyundai Getz, Citroen C2, Suzuki Ignis, Ford Ka, CityRover

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