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Chevrolet Epica 2.0D LS (2008) driven review

Published:15 May 2008

Chevrolet Epica 2.0D LS (2008) driven review
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
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  • 3 out of 5

The Chevrolet Epica probably isn’t a car review you’ve been waiting for, but the real appeal lies in what dealers stick to the windscreen: £13,595. A typo? No, a price that buys you a base Epica. Really. A car longer than a Porsche Cayenne – and one with a straight-six petrol engine under the broad, commanding hood. Yes, just like BMW uses. Only here, mounted transversely, and driving the front wheels. This is clever packaging that proves the Epica has been properly engineered.

And now we've road tested it we’ve found there’s more to the Epica than meets the eye. Honestly. Take the styling. Yes, unadventurous three-box lines scream ‘box’. But deep, clean sides and a taut windowline make it more ‘Euro’ than most Korean rivals, while the quality, lustrous paint is superb.

Sounds interesting. Tell me more about the Chevrolet Epica...

There's also multi-link rear suspension and a common-rail diesel that’s both more powerful and more economical than the petrol. Even interior plastics, while clearly priced down to a budget, hide their cost with a low-sheen finish. Build quality appears reasonable on first acquaintance, too.

Things seem good, particularly as the kit is epic (sorry). The base LS has part leather, air-con and six airbags. The LT adds climate control, ESP and full leather, heated up front. Shame the dash design is blocky, and heather controls set low beneath a Saab-alike stereo.

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Bigger than a Cayenne you say? Is the Epica huge inside?


The Epica has an expectedly vast boot, but ample rear knee room is compromised by tight foot space and a slightly low bench. The exact opposite up front counters this – it's simply cavernous. As does the lurch when chucked into the first corner and it's compounded by woolly steering. Body lean, a weird response at the rear end, a dominant self-centering effect to the steering, and a distinct squirm under power. At least the ride is loping, and surprisingly well damped.

What about this fancy straight-six engine?

At least the engine is nice. A straight-six hum is so much nicer than a V6. This is exceptionally refined for a £13k car, and the classy throb as you pull away feels expensive. There’s even a BMW-like mid-range warble. It’s not anything like as fast as the snappy throttle makes it feel, and torque is inevitably not overflowing, but it’s nevertheless lovely to operate. Certainly classier than £13k suggests.

Surprisingly, the diesel, £1k more, is fairly sweet and refined, too. It demands a floored throttle and a pause while power is delivered, but is again better than you might fear from a European car wearing a Chevrolet badge. It's faster than the petrol (while doing 46mpg, rather than 34).

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Verdict

So would we recommend the Epica? We were certainly surprised by this Korean saloon. It won’t exactly blow Mondeo drivers away, but it offers a little quirkiness and interior comfort that we admire.

It's not a good car by any stretch of the imagination, but it is intriguing. Just the way we like cars at CAR.

Specs

Price when new: £14,595
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1991cc 4-cyl turbodiesel, 148bhp @ 4000rpm, 236lb ft @ 2000rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 9.7sec 0-62mph, 124mph, 46.3mpg, 169g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1560kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4805/1810/1180

Rivals

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Photo Gallery

  • Chevrolet Epica first drive car review: rear three-quarter picture
  • Chevrolet Epica first drive car review: interior picture
  • Chevrolet Epica first drive car review: interior picture
  • Chevrolet Epica first drive car review: front three-quarter picture
  • Chevrolet Epica first drive car review: rear three-quarter picture
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