Review: Chevrolet Epica (2008 – 2010)

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Rating:

Extremely well kitted out for comfort and safety. Huge boot. Keen value. 6-speed diesel auto. 2.0 straight six petrol is chain cam.

Curious feel-free and heavily self-centering steering. Quite a lot ended up as taxis.

Chevrolet Epica (2008 – 2010): At A Glance

Mondeo sized. With a choice of 5-speed manual diesel, 6-speed automatic diesel, or 5-speed manual transverse straight-six petrol. Badged ‘Chevrolet', yet built in South Korea.

The straight six LS model will set you back a startlingly reasonable £13,595. This is for a big car 15' 9" long with a colossal 480 litre boot and bags of room in the back seat. Usefully, the seatbacks fold down 60/40 so you can carry long loads if you want to.

So what's it like? You can judge for yourself how it looks from the snapshots. I'd stay slightly ungainly. A bit too high off the ground. Though there is a bodykit to address that if you so wish.

Road Test 2007 Chevrolet Epica

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What does a Chevrolet Epica (2008 – 2010) cost?

Chevrolet Epica (2008 – 2010): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4805 mm
Width 1810 mm
Height 1450 mm
Wheelbase 2700 mm

Full specifications

You get a stack of kit, including air conditioning, 16" alloy wheels, cruise control, electric front and rear windows, electric mirrors, double DIN CD radio with MP3 socket, steering wheel radio controls, front, side and curtain airbags, leather covered steering wheel, and even part-leather seats.

Child seats that fit a Chevrolet Epica (2008 – 2010)

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What's the Chevrolet Epica (2008 – 2010) like to drive?

The 1,993cc six-cylinder engine is double overhead chain cam, puts out 141bhp and 195Nm torque and pulls the car to 60 in 9.6 seconds before running on to a top speed of 129mph.

You pay at the pumps, of course, but not that heavily at 34.5mpg combined. Though the 205g/km emissions will put you onto £300 a year tax next year and £310 the year after. Anyone wanting one on the company faces BIK on 29% of the car's list price, but since the price is only £13,595 you pay tax on a reasonable £3,943, 40% of which is £1,577.

I wouldn't say the engine is silky smooth, but its smooth enough, offering a pleasant drive with decent torque from low revs. No sportscar, but no dullard either.

Handling isn't brilliant, with fairly heavy self-centering that robs the steering of feel when cornering, but it's far from a disaster. It's not floppy and hopelessly light as you might have expected.

The diesel is belt rather than chain cam, four rather than six cylinders, slightly quicker to 60 and with a slightly lower top speed. Naturally, fuel economy is much better at 46.3mpg combined, and though CO2 is a tad high for a diesel at 169g/km, meaning tax on 25% of £14,595 for the LS, which translates to £1,460 for a 40 percenter. Next year's annual VED will be £175.

We didn't drive that one, which I predict will become a favourite airport taxi, combining a diesel engine with big 5-seater body and a large boot. Instead we took the 6-speed diesel auto in LT trim that for £17,695 brings the additional kit of electronic climate control, rear parking sensors, full leather seats, CD autochanger, electrochromatic rear view mirror, electric driver's seat, trip computer, 17" alloys and electronic stability control.

The problem is it chunders out 210g/km CO2, putting it in the £300 VED bracket next year and 33% BIK: a not so cheap £2,336 in tax for a company driver. It's not that great on the juice, either, offering just 37.2mpg combined on expensive diesel, a full 24% worse than the manual (a factor that people often forget when buying a diesel auto for ‘economy').

The autobox and engine are well suited, the 6-gears, decisively making the most of the diesel's relatively narrow torque band. But the steering was the strangest I've felt for a long time.

It had the same self-centring effect as the petrol car on its smaller wheels and narrower tyres. But in this car the centring required muscle to get the car round a corner and as soon as the wheel was turned off-centre, all steering feel was lost. Maybe that particular car needed a visit to alignmycar.co.uk, but it had the same characteristic as the petrol cars, only much more exaggerated. The only advantage of the steering I could see was a tight turning circle for such a big car.

Oddball new cars, then, with faults. And the best buy is undoubtedly the cheapest, with its unique 2.0 litre chain cam six-cylinder petrol engine. Though I can see cabbies going for the base model diesel too.

Chevrolet does not expect to sell more than 500 Epicas in the UK over the rest of 2008. That's not an ambitions target, so I don't see why it won't.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
2.0 35 mpg 9.9 s 199 g/km
2.0 VCDi 37–46 mpg 9.7–10.6 s 169–210 g/km

Real MPG average for a Chevrolet Epica (2008 – 2010)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

96%

Real MPG

24–50 mpg

MPGs submitted

15

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Chevrolet Epica (2008 – 2010)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Dedicated foreigner to fashion

As a retired former senior executive in the car industry, the most refreshing aspect of your column is the even-handed way you dispense advice on customer and manufacturer complaint resolution. Since retiring I have deliberately adopted a strategy of buying used “unfashionable” cars that depreciate heavily and then running them into the ground. 5 years ago I bought a 53 plate 15,000 mile white Subaru Legacy 2.0 Saloon at a trade price of £7000, which my wife runs. A year later I bought an 05 plate 18000 mile Citroen C5 1.6hdi for £8,000 to run myself. The Legacy has now done 80,000 miles and the Citroen 72,000. Both cars have been admirably cheap to run, but the Citroen feels fragile is starting to look tatty, and is starting to cost money having required new discs all round, injector seals, and a new cooling fan and ECU. What can I replace it with that is biggish, comfortable, economical, unfashionable and depreciates badly.
Let's see, now: KIA Magentis, Hyundai Sonata, Chevrolet Epica, Dodge Avenger, SEAT Toledo. Avoid SAABs, Vectras, Alfas and FIATs with the 1.9 diesel engine.
Answered by Honest John
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