2011 Chevy Aveo: Woo Hoo? or Daewoo?

Chevrolet GM-news Press and News

2011 Chevrolet Aveo RS conceptBy Adrienne Gruben

Continuing my focus on the American automakers’ efforts at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), I want to look at one of Daewoo’s descendents, the 5-door, 5-passenger, Chevy Aveo. I wrote that everyone borrows from everyone else, though less from the Americans, and while it’s not surprising that it was Chevy was doing some borrowing, it is surprising is how bi-polar they are being about it.

Some say that Chevy is re-appropriating the Daewoo but complaining that just because you bought ‘em doesn’t mean you gotta be ‘em, and if you’re gonna do it, be honest. My belief is that they borrowed just as much from the Scion xD and a little from the Scion xA, but its more fun for people who write comments on articles to kvetch about its similarities to Daewoo.

They went on to quash most of the Asian references by referring to the hatch as “a European-inspired hot hatch look designed to appeal to young enthusiasts.” As I referenced yesterday, they said the same thing about the Spark, so I think the design shout-out was again to the MINI, but they also used the term “upscale- looking.”

They also said, “We are…serious about redefining the Aveo, and its place in the small-car segment.” Translated: “NOT a Daewoo!” But then Chevy does the bi-polar thing by using the term “many personalization options.” Is this a veiled remark to steal L.A. Scion drivers who have had a long love affair with the aftermarket?

Throwing a wrench, Chevy marketing explained that there is a team – who I picture in lab coats – working to localize the car, hopefully without making it obvious with images of Uncle Sam, apple pie and the cast of “Jersey Shore” painted on the side. Are they trying to be all things to all people?

2011 Chevrolet Aveo RS concept

As I’ve said, slowly, but surely the Americans are trying to transform their lineups using the “homage” model, but again, baby steps are smart. It’s like when my brunette friend who wanted to go blonde did it slowly over a year, one highlight session at a time. I’d totally forgotten she was ever brunette until I started writing this story. So let’s take a look at those highlights.

We’ve got the straight-up Chevy-ish dual element grille, round taillamps and fender flares, an upgrade wrench with low openings and a lower mouth with a combination of brushed and polished aluminum around the edges. Outboard fog lamps co-mingled with a brake-cooling inlet that eases into the front fender flares, creates an angry-looking face.

I was fascinated by last year’s 370Z offering by Nissan’s angry off-looking headlights, but I’m all for it, and angry-faces are just as American, especially these days. Chevy wants folks to have an emotional reaction to the fresh design choices, and I think when you look angry, you’re going to get a response. My being a fan of a pissed looking cars-my reaction is “Yesss!” I guess I still like bad-boys with street cred.

2011 Chevrolet Aveo RS concept

Street cred? Separating  it from the Spark, the front-wheel drive subcompact has 19-inch, gun-metal metallic five-spoke wheels whose openings have big ole’ Boracay Blue brake calipers; an integrated spoiler coming from the roof; a center-mounted exhaust and chrome exhaust tips; motorcycle-inspired rear taillamps featuring tinted aluminum housings and a low-key Bowtie logo exposed for all to see.

They talk about the interior, but until I drive the car, and see that the features are not going to fall off and hit me in the face, descriptions of the – Will it rip? – accent stitching, and gear shift boot can wait.

Fast and tough? Powered by the same 138-horsepower (103 kW) 1.4L I-4 Ecotec turbocharged engine, as the upcoming Chevrolet Cruze, the six-speed manual transmission promises to  provide a “spirited driving experience.” Bad boys of the world unite.

And what’s more, the engine cover is shiny graphite silver with brushed aluminum. These features of the car, which goes into production late 2010, and comes out in 2011, can proudly sing, “America, America, God grant its faith in thee.”

2011 Chevrolet Aveo RS concept 138 hp 1.4L Ecotec turbocharged engine

My only experience with Daewoo was a trip to Joshua Tree where a couple of bad boys and I rented a Daewoo (when it was still straight up Korean) with total irony. Aside from the designated driver, we were on some, um, “natural substances,” and screamed “DAEWOOOOO,” the whole way–until the driver threatened to leave us under the tree.

The next time we drive to Joshua Tree (we’re all too old for substances), will we be screaming, “AAAAAVEO?” We’ll decide once we do a test drive from “sea to shining sea” without the steering wheel coming off of its column into our hands.

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