Buying used: Chevrolet Aveo v Skoda Fabia v Suzuki Swift

Buying used: Chevrolet Aveo v Skoda Fabia v Suzuki Swift
Buying used: Chevrolet Aveo v Skoda Fabia v Suzuki Swift

We all like a bargain, but which one will we like the most?

When these cars were new they offered seating for four and a decent boot capacity. Some years later you may not be surprised to hear they still do. But they were also good value when new, so are they simply amazing value now?

The Skoda Fabia might be the favourite here, but its popularity has meant that used prices have firmed, making it the priciest of the trio. Then there’s the Suzuki Swift, which is a handsome car that we know is fun to drive. More expensive than the Chevrolet, it has a lot going for it, but the Aveo is not only the cheapest, it has some cut design cues, like the motorbike-inspired instrument panel.

Driving

Skoda Fabia

Engine: 1.4-litre petrol
List price when new: £11,995
Price today: £4500
Power: 85bhp
Torque: 97lb ft
0-60mph: 12.2sec
Top speed: 109mph
Economy: 47.9mpg
CO2 emissions: 139g/km

If you’re in the mood for getting it down then the Suzuki scores big points. You need to rev it but that is rewarded with feisty, if noisy, performance that is definitely fun. Of course if you just want to make progress it’s rather less fun, if not downright tiresome. However, it has the best handling here, with taut body control and great steering.

The ride is slightly firm, and is shown up by that of the Fabia, which is a great balance between control and comfort. What’s more, the Skoda is about as quick as the Suzuki as well, but it needs less of a drama to extract the performance and so is the more relaxing car to cover the miles in.

The Chevrolet Aveo is set up for a comfy ride, which works well, but the payoff is a lack of body control on twisty roads. Rather badly weighted steering is joined by a performance that is only adequate. It’s fine in town but out on those twisty roads you’re flooring the throttle quite often, and rummaging through the gears for a lower one.

Interior

Suzuki Swift 

Engine: 1.2-litre petrol
List price when new: £11,130
Price today: £4000
Power: 93bhp
Torque: 87lb ft
0-60mph: 12.3sec
Top speed: 103mph
Economy: 56.5mpg
CO2 emissions: 116g/km

These weren’t expensive cars when new, so if you’re not expecting a dramatic cabin you’ll be okay. They’re a bit low-rent all round, although the Suzuki’s looks the sportiest and the Skoda’s seems the best built and most solid.

As small cars rather than city cars we have a right to expect decent seating for four as a minimum. The Suzuki just about scrapes in here, although those in the rear, and their luggage, will suffer due to the rather attractive lines of the back of the car. The other two are more spacious in the rear, with slightly larger boots, certainly enough for a couple of large cases or a buggy.

Costs

Which car you go for might depend on how you view things like servicing and support. With no sales outlets for cars like these in the UK now, the Chevrolet has limited support, although you can find a list of dealers by checking the Chevrolet website. However, this is the cheapest of the three to buy, tax and insure. It’s also easiest on fuel although that is countered by higher depreciation – but only from a starting point below £4000.

The Aveo will only cost £30 a year to tax, as will the Suzuki, although the Swift will notably more fuel. The Skoda Fabia will cost £135 a year in tax, and uses more fuel too. However if safety is an issue the Skoda is falling behind as it has the smallest number of airbags here and you can’t get stability control even as an option.

Chevrolet Aveo

Engine: 1.2-litre petrol
List price when new: £9995
Price today: £3800
Power: 85bhp
Torque: 85lb ft
0-60mph: 13.4sec
Top speed: 106mph
Economy: 60.9mpg
CO2 emissions: 111g/km

Verdict

Even if you find a good independent garage to look after your Chevrolet, you’re still driving a car that struggles for performance and decent handling. It’s the cheapest and it feels it, so whether that feels like value for money is down to you.

We’d prefer the Suzuki Swift, as it’s fun to drive, looks great and seems to have some character – but it doesn’t have as much space as the other and it’s not the most comfy.

On that basis the Skoda Fabia is the winner, being the biggest and most relaxing to drive, with a practical and refined cabin. It’s not the best small car out there but it’s good enough to win against this competition.

Price today is based on a 2012 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

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