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Chevrolet Matiz hatchback (2005 – 2009) expert review

By Alex Eckford, 22nd November 2006

The verdict

The Chevrolet Matiz offers cheap, basic A-to-B transport in a cute, inoffensive package.

Expert rating:

2.8

Pros

  • Cheap to run, cheap to buy
  • Cheery looks
  • Decent headroom

Cons

  • Poor Euro NCAP rating
  • Spartan kit level
  • Small boot

Full Review

1. Exterior

The Chevrolet Matiz isn’t bad looking for a small city car, but it’s hard to get the phrase ‘toy car’ out of your mind when looking at the vehicle from the outside. The last facelift gave the front a more modern look, while two huge rear circular lights beam out the back like a pair of puppy dog eyes. And with its tiny wheels, it looks like a chic European city car – from Korea.
Our rating: 3

2. Interior

Chevrolet has tried to pull off the funky interior thing, but missed the mark slightly. The unfortunate placing of the air vents and the hazard warning button make the central console look like a clown’s face, and the thin-rimmed steering wheel has a toy town feel about it. The jazzy upholstery is a welcome relief, but we prefer the cabins of both the Kia Picanto and Hyundai i10 more.
Our rating: 3

3. Practicality

The Chevrolet Matiz might be a small car, but there’s no excuse for a titchy 104 litre boot – it’s just about big enough for a weekly shop for a household of one. The tall Matiz offers a decent amount of headroom, however, and four adults should be able to cope with a moderate journey without complaining of aches and pains.
Our rating: 3

4. Ride and Handling

The suspension has been altered since the car’s last incarnation to give a smoother ride. But it still crashes through potholes, and its bodyroll is to an extent where you wouldn’t push the car hard through corners even if you wanted to.
Our rating: 2

5. Performance

The Chevrolet Matiz is available with two petrol engines, an 800cc unit and a more muscular 1-litre. The 800cc is fine for around-town driving, but quickly gets out of its depth on a motorway with its 18.2 seconds 0-62 time. The automatic version is even slower, with a barely-believable time of 21.9 seconds to reach the magic number. Top speeds are 90 and 84mph respectively. We tested the larger 1-litre engine, which although markedly quicker – 0-62mph in 14.1 and a top speed of 97mph – is still fairly pedestrian. Overtaking takes some careful calculations too.
Our rating: 2

6. Running Costs

Starting at just over £6,000, the Chevrolet Matiz is a cheap car. And it’s cheap to insure (group 1 or 2) and all models will cover around 50mpg. The biggest cost of ownership is the car’s heavy depreciation. Owners can expect to take a £1,000 to £2,000 hit in the first year of ownership alone. That does make it a tempting nearly-new budget buy, however.
Our rating: 4

7. Reliability

The car shares many of its parts with the old Daewoo-badged Matiz, so there should be very few reliability problems. A three-year 60,000 mile warranty is included, with an optional fixed-price servicing package.
Our rating: 3

8. Safety

The driver and front seat passenger get an airbag apiece, and ABS comes as standard too. Step up to the SX model, and side airbags join the spec sheet. However, the Matiz scored just two and a half stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, so if you value safety over cost, best look elsewhere.
Our rating: 2

9. Equipment

The entry-level Chevrolet Matiz S is pretty spartan with power steering, central locking and a CD player being the highlights. Step up to the SE (1-litre only) model we tested and you’ll find electric front windows and alloy wheels, while the SX adds air-con and electric rear windows. Not a car for gadget fans by any means.
Our rating: 3

10. Why buy?

The Chevrolet Matiz might be a little long in the tooth now, but its cheeky looks and super-budget price point will still win over buyers.
Our rating: 3

Expert review 2.8stars

  • Exterior3
  • Interior3
  • Practicality3
  • Ride and handling2
  • Performance2
  • Running costs4
  • Reliability3
  • Safety2
  • Equipment3
  • Why buy?3

Our recommendations

Best on a budget:
Matiz 0.8 S
Tiny engine means tiny running costs
Best-seller:
Matiz 1.0 SE
The more powerful Matiz is the most popular
Blow the budget:
Matiz 1.0 SE +
Top of the range Matiz gets air-con and electric windows.

With its tiny wheels, it looks like a chic European city car.