Motoring journalists don’t often admit to stuff like this but I will. After six days in the Chevrolet Trax, today I noticed a little button I hadn’t used before. It was hidden away at the bottom of the centre console and read ‘ECO’.
Hmm. No idea why Jessica or I hadn’t spotted it but it’s certainly easy to miss, below the level of the knob on the gearstick.
We’ve already found the 1.7 VCDi engine has plenty of torque and lively performance but with the ECO button turned off, well, the Trax is even more fun than it was before. I’d recommend driving with ECO off around town and along A-roads – then press it in for high-speed motorway journeys.
I’ve read some fairly uncomplimentary reviews of this Chevrolet SUV but as an overall package, I’m still a fan. It might bounce over potholes and lean into corners but there is plenty of fun to be had.
You will need to ignore the wind and tyre noise, especially at higher speeds, some of the interior trim is also a little on the cheap side too.
Trax remains a lot of car for the money. It has lots of storage compartments (I stopped counting at 19) and with the rear seats folded it can carry more than a Skoda Yeti or a Nissan Juke.
All the engines in the range are from the General Motors stable, so are well proven in Vauxhall and other Chevrolet models. Everything is backed up by a 100,000-mile, five year warranty.
Trax is also one of the few cars we have handed back lately with fuel in it – perhaps not surprising when you learn it is capable of 55+mpg on motorway trips.
So, if you like the styling and wants something a little different, an SUV that isn’t faultless but bags of fun, the Trax must be on your shopping list.
The Trax, like a lot of cars these days has Stop-Start to boost fuel economy. I have been averaging around 48mpg, which I think is pretty decent for any SUV in everyday driving situations.
The Trax also has another stop-start system which I can’t quite work out. Over the last six days I have stalled it at least eight times. Which is eight more than I have stalled any other car this year.
It seems to happen at low speed, then the Chevrolet is winding down to a standstill. I Put my foot on the clutch as I brake and then, well, the engines dies!
No idea what is going on but it can be very disconcerting, especially if I have the DAB radio on and can’t hear the engine noise. Today I tried to pull away at a junction and absolutely nothing happened.
It’s the only black spot on a very willing, if rather noisy drivetrain.
I bounced around Mongolia once in a Land Rover Discovery. It was about the same time as the Mongol Rally, when people from the UK drive all the way there in cars which have to have an engine smaller than 1-0-litre. Oh and the cars have to be cheap – very cheap!
I’m disappointed that Chevrolet don’t make a 1.0-litre version of the Trax because it seems like the perfect Mongol Rally machine. The original Fiat Panda 4×4 has always been a favourite in the race but not many have survived the test of time.
Like most SUVs, the majority of Trax sold in the UK are going to spend their life on Tarmac. Today I had a chance to run it along some dirt roads and grassy fields – it performed really well considering it was on road tyres.
The short wheelbase and lightweight makes the Chevrolet perfect for uneven ground. OK, it may not be as comfortable as larger sport utility vehicles but with a decent set of off-road tyres, I reckon it would be unstoppable!
If ever there was a British Bulldog of car design this is it. The Trax may be short on stature – 4.25 metres of it – but the front end looks like a mutt straining at the leash.
While the rest of the car is sculpted-out conventional SUV, that Chevrolet front end is what really bites you on the bottom. In fact, if you added a set of wider wheels and painted it black, the Trax would be a bruiser of a 4×4 to look at.
The only problem with having such a large front end is that wind noise can be quite intrusive at high speed – not helped by the elephant-sized door mirrors which are simply enormous!
However, the built quality is pretty rugged and robust. The doors shut with a reassuring thud and the interior is practical, with 1370 litres of space if you fold the rear seats flat (356 litres with the back seats in place).
Right now I’m thoroughly enjoying the 128bhp diesel engine. You have to work it hard, which might be tiresome in the long run but it’s simply great fun to drive.