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First drive: Chevrolet Matiz - on sale June

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Review

The Matiz was Daewoo’s most popular model in the UK, thanks to a small price tag, cheeky styling and low running costs. Chevrolet is hoping this success will continue with the new Matiz, due here in June.

This is the first all-new model to be launched as a Chevy, rather than a rebadged Daewoo. It is produced at GM’s Korean plant and while the underpinnings and body are all new, the two engines are revamped versions of the old trusted 800cc and 1.0-litre units.

Both are buzzy but it is the 800cc which impresses more, particularly in town. The four-pot 1.0-litre has better performance figures but often seems breathless and doesn’t rev as freely.

Both engines have been reworked to improve fuel economy (helped by a lighter body structure) and noise has been reduced – at idle it is almost unnoticeable Chevrolet has stuck with the familiar styling of the old model, claiming it has ‘grown up’.

Sharper lines, a sleeker profile and new front and rear lights give it a more modern look, but from the front and without its ‘bug’ eyes, it seems to have lost some of its charm. 75% of Matiz drivers in the UK are female and it is these key styling details that count.

The interior is the usual budget car combination of grey plastics, but they are well glued together. The new cabin also features a central instrument cluster, which comes with a choice of dial colours – blue, green or a particularly lurid orange.

There’s plenty of legroom, even for six plus footers, but headroom in the back is limited. Plenty of compartments and cubbyholes for bits and pieces, though.

The handling qualities of the previous Matiz were often criticised, so Chevrolet has fitted a completely new torsion beam rear axle with tuned rubber mountings. While this has eliminated the jumpy ride, the suspension is still too soft.

Last year the Matiz found 6,369 buyers in the UK and Chevrolet is hoping to emulate this in its first 12 months. It’s an improvement over the old model and with its fresh looks it stands out from the crowd.

Chevrolet is keeping the three years’ free servicing for which Daewoo was famed. Provided keen pricing and high standard equipment levels are maintained it will be the most important car in a model line-up designed for long-term success in Europe.

Strengths: Good value, great in town – easy to park
Weaknesses: Interior feels cheap, not good at higher speeds
Opportunity: Will take the Chevrolet brand into the city car sector
Threat: Daewoo residue
The USP: More than just a badge change for the Matiz

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