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Chevrolet Lacetti SW estate (2005 – 2008) expert review

By Richard Dredge, 22nd November 2010

The verdict

The Chevrolet Lacetti SW is a small estate that offers a lot of equipment and reasonable space for not a lot of money. But ultimately, ownership isn’t as cheap as you would first assume.

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Expert rating:

2.5

Pros

  • Fairly practical
  • Well equipped
  • Unusual

Cons

  • Not much choice
  • Heavy depreciation
  • Dynamically mediocre

Full Review

1. Exterior

The exterior design of the Chevrolet Lacetti SW estate is, at best forgettable. There are none of the surprise-and-delight features that some rivals offer, like the Ford Focus Estate or Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer. One of the few details that lifts the Lacetti SW’s appearance is a set of brushed aluminium roof rails, although the provision of alloy wheels also enhances things a bit.

Our rating: 2

2. Interior

The lack of design excitement continues inside the Chevrolet Lacetti SW estate. Cheap plastics and a distinct lack of ambition means any rival offers a more inviting cabin. But while your pulse is unlikely to be increased by sitting in the Lacetti, it’s easy enough to get comfortable. The seats may not be particularly supportive but there’s reach and rake adjustment for the steering wheel, while the driver’s seat also gets adjustment for the height as well as lumbar support.

Our rating: 2

3. Practicality

The Lacetti SW is a Focus-sized estate car, so a certain degree of practicality is guaranteed. With the ability to provide up to 1,410 litres of carrying capacity with the rear seats folded, the boot is competitively sized. Leave the seats in place and the boot shrinks to 400 litres. Choose a Kia Cee’d SW instead and you’d have 1,664 litres at your disposal, or 534 litres with the seats up. Equivalent figures for the Ford Focus estate are 1,546 and 503 litres. Access is good, as the load lip is low and the tailgate wide, but the rear seats don’t fold flat. Anybody in those rear seats won’t complain about a lack of legroom, either.

Our rating: 3

4. Ride and handling

Built for comfort rather than speed, the Chevrolet Lacetti SW has soft suspension that doesn’t do a bad job of soaking up the bumps of Britain’s potholed roads. It’s not sophisticated, but the bias is definitely towards the ride rather than the handling. The result of the suspension set-up is a car that handles reasonably well, and if your driving is almost exclusively on the motorway or around town it’ll be fine. But show the Lacetti SW the open road and it’s soon out of its depth.

Our rating: 3

5. Performance

Chevrolet Lacetti SW buyers don’t have to make many decisions. Essentially it boils down to whether you want a manual gearbox or an automatic, as there’s a 1.6-litre manual car or a 1.8-litre auto. Both are petrol units, so if you want a diesel you’ll have to look elsewhere. Both engines give respectable performance, with the smaller unit generating 107bhp and 111lb/ft of pulling power – that’s enough to take it to 116mph and from 0-62mph in 10.1 seconds. Opt for the 1.8-litre version and there’s 119bhp on tap, but you’ll still get just 116mph out of it while the 0-62mph time falls to 12 seconds.

Our rating: 3

6. Running costs

A serious lack of brand recognition means the Lacetti SW quickly loses value. It helps that it’s relatively cheap to start with, but that doesn’t take away the fact that you’ll still lose nearly half of the car’s value within the first year. Old-tech petrol engines also mean high CO2 emissions and poor economy. The 1.6-litre unit manages an average 36.2mpg, while kicking out 181g/km of CO2. The 1.8-litre unit has average fuel consumption of 32.1mpg with CO2 emissions of 210g/km. Those figures are beaten soundly by the BMW 535i Touring for example – a bigger car with a much larger petrol engine.

Our rating: 1

7. Reliability

Despite its lack of showroom appeal and lacklustre image, the Chevrolet Lacetti SW is a pretty safe bet in terms of reliability. It helps, of course, that the cars are relatively simple.

Our rating: 3

8. Safety

Euro NCAP hasn’t crash tested the Lacetti SW, so it doesn’t carry a safety rating. However, there’s a reasonable amount of safety equipment as standard, including anti-lock brakes, front and side airbags for the driver and passenger, seatbelt pre-tensioners, three-point seatbelts for everyone and Isofix mountings for the outer rear seats. Opt for the 1.8 SX and you also get traction control, but there’s no electronic stability programme nor other modern technologies such as lane keep assist or blind spot assist. These sort of features are now available on the Ford Focus, in both hatchback and estate form.

Our rating: 2

9. Equipment

This is something of a high spot for the Lacetti SW, as these aren’t sparsely equipped cars. There’s just the one trim level available (SX), which comes with 15-inch alloy wheels as standard, along with air conditioning, electrically adjustable door mirrors, power windows front and rear, six-speaker CD/tuner plus a multi-function steering wheel. As far as options are concerned, there’s just the one, metallic paint.

Our rating: 4

10. Why buy?

The Chevrolet Lacetti SW is an unusual site on our roads and the low purchase price should appeal to many.

Our rating: 2

Expert review 2.5stars

  • Exterior2
  • Interior2
  • Practicality3
  • Ride and handling3
  • Performance3
  • Running costs1
  • Reliability3
  • Safety2
  • Equipment4
  • Why buy?2

Our recommendations

Best on a budget:

Lacetti SW 1.6 SX

It’s as economical a Lacetti SW as you’ll get

Best-seller:

Lacetti SW 1.6 SX

It’s the only version with a manual gearbox

Blow the budget:

Lacetti SW 1.6 SX

It’s the smallest engine but still the swiftest model

If a low purchase price and having something unusual are important, the Lacetti SW might appeal