A guide to Chevrolet cars

Chevrolet, the legendary muscle car manufacturer across the pond in the US, has finally made its mark on the European market. After arriving in 2003, Chevy has expanded drastically in Europe, gaining a 2.2 per cent share of the market – a percentage unheard of for a new brand.

It has also seen a transformation of the brand on European shores. Gone are the gas-guzzling muscle cars such as the Corvette and Camaro and in have came the cheap, practical, value-for-money and low in CO2 emissions.

Until now, the entire product range will soon consist of a blend of practical, stylish city cars such as the Spark, practical family models such as the Cruze and, for the first time, the Chevrolet Camaro muscle car, which will be sold in the UK via dedicated Chevrolet dealers.

It’s an exciting time to jump on the Chevrolet bandwagon, and the range of models – which will be complemented by the Aveo hatchback and Camaro later this year – offer a choice of great value model for every need.

By next year, to celebrate the manufacturer’s centenary, all of the line-up launched in 2004 will have been replaced with new or upgraded models.

Chevrolet Lacetti

The Lacetti, one of the more famous UK Chevrolet’s due to its stint as the Reasonably Priced Car on BBC’s Top Gear television programme, is a cheap, budget hatchback with up to 1045 litres of boot space with the rear seats folded.

The five-door Lacetti is cheap to buy and cheap to run. The two trim levels are basic but offer excellent value.

Chevrolet Matiz

The Matiz was replaced by the Spark in early 2010, after six years of impressive sales. It accounted for 35 per cent of all Chevrolet’s European sales during its production run.

Emissions are as low as 119g/km depending on the engine and fuel economy is as high as 54.3mpg. As well as low running costs, the Matiz is notoriously good value and boasts enough boot space to make it an ideal city run around.

Chevrolet Captiva

Even a range-topping Captiva LTZ comes in at around £20,000 cheaper than an entry-level BMW X5 or Range Rover Sport.

Sure, you won’t get the decedent luxury of the others, but equipment levels in the Captiva are extensive enough to make it a good buy in its own right. Built on the same platform as the Vauxhall Antara but costing less, the price tag alone makes the Captiva worth considering.

It is an extremely practical SUV, with 465-litres of boot space and vast headroom throughout. The interior is comfortable and reassuringly well-built and the engines provide enough power to cope with motorway cruising with ease.

Higher trim levels feature a plethora of gadgets such as climate control, cruise control, privacy glass and electrically folding door mirrors and for the first time, rear-parking cameras and a touch-screen satellite navigation is included in the top LTZ trim.

Chevrolet Cruze

The Chevrolet Cruze was the first of a host of new models for the manufacturer when it was introduced in 2009. It was also a step up in quality and performance for the US manufacturer.

The for-door saloon, based on the impressive Vauxhall Astra, is a triumph for comfortable, good value, reliable family motoring. There are 450-litres of room in the boot and for the first time on a Chevrolet model, equipment levels to match more expensive competitors, including cruise control and alloy wheels as standard.

There’s a choice of petrol and diesel engines and the top-selling 1.8-litre LT model boasts 139hp and a 0-62mph sprint time of sub-10 seconds.

It has been designed specifically to appeal to European buyers, and the simple, sporty style is clean and effective.

Prices are competitive and with impressive interior, equipment and performance figures, the Chevrolet Cruze has established itself as an excellent value-for-money compact saloon to rival anything else on the market.

Chevrolet Spark

The newest Chevy city car went on sale in the UK in early 2010 after sales success in Europe and announced its arrival with a tour of some of the major cities in the UK – a nod to the urban ability of the car.

The five-door hatchback is deceptive – although its compact dimensions are ideal for city driving, there is plenty of head space for passengers, a decent size boot and the added bonus of two cleverly disguised rear doors to prevent the indignity of passengers having to scramble between the front seats to get in and out.

Aimed at a younger, trendier demographic, the Spark comes in a variety of bright, attractive colours and there are some nice touches with optional body graphics and a motorbike style instrument pod.

Replacing the Matiz in Europe, the Chevrolet Spark comes with a choice of two capable 1.0 and 1.2-litre petrol engines and boasts CO2 emissions of just 119g/km – making it exempt from first year road tax. It also received a five-star safety rating from EuroNCAP.

Chevrolet Aveo

Chevrolet isn’t just a budget car manufacturer in Europe – they can do more luxurious models as well. The new Aveo three- and five-door hatchback, which arrives in the UK in 2011, has a slightly more premium feel than previous models with an updated exterior and more aggressive styling.

Previous models have been upgraded for the 2011 model year, and it is clear Chevrolet sees the Aveo as a challenger to the Ford Fiesta.

There are better quality materials, new interior trim and even a hint of the motorcycle-style dash from the Spark.

Chevrolet has also revealed a hot hatch concept in the shape of the 138bhp 1.4-litre Aveo RS. Expect to see it forming part of the Chevrolet Aveo range at some point in the next 12 months.

Chevrolet Orlando – Due 2011

Chevrolet will introduce a five-door, seven-seat MPV to the line-up in the shape of the Orlando.

It will make its debut at the 2010 Paris Motor Show and so far no details have been confirmed. It is built on the Cruze platform and is expected to have high equipment levels but a low price compared to rivals such as the Vauxhall Zafira.

Chevrolet Camaro – Due 2011

From May 2011, UK buyers will no longer need to import the Chevrolet Camaro muscle car. Star of numerous Hollywood films and name-checked in several songs, the Camaro is a growling, iconic muscle car straight from the 60s and will be sold through Chevy dealers for the first time.

Voted World Design Car of the Year 2010, the 426bhp Camaro boasts a 6.2-litre V8 engine and can reach 62mph from standstill in under five seconds.

Prices have not been announced yet, but that won’t matter to fans of the Camaro, who are expected to snap it up when it is released.