- We like...Lots of space
- We don't...Loses value quickly
The Epica's a lot of big, plush saloon for a teeny price. But, in the final reckoning, is it the utter bargain that it looks?Big cars are off the radar right now. Ford, Vauxhall, Renault and Peugeot have abandoned selling over here, leaving Citrn as keeper of the flame among mass-market car makers with its C6. And how many of those have you seen lately?
So it’s a brave jump for Chevrolet to enter this sector. Company chiefs would argue that the new Epica saloon should be compared directly, and favourably, against the likes of the Ford Mondeo and Renault Laguna. These are, of course, family-sized saloons and hatches. But the Mondeo has grown over time to be one of the biggest of its type at 2 metres wide and 4.7m long. And the Epica outds it at 4.8m, bumper to bumper. It’s a big car.
Yet with prices beginning at £13,595, Chevrolet deserves a cheer. That’s what you’d pay, say, for a mid-range Ford Focus. Here it buys two size categories bigger, and the Epica packs a 2.0 petrol engine, too. And it’s no stripped-down bargain: part-leather seats, air conditioning, six airbags and alloy wheels all come within the price.
The car you see here is the dearest Epica, the 2.0 D auto LT. Chiming in at £17,695, it has power-adjust leather seats, climate control and a six-speed transmission feeding from a 2.0 diesel engine. So it looks expensive, an impression confirmed by nifty touches that include dabs of chrome around the door handles.
Inside all looks solid enough but some controls and detailing are dated. There’s space front and back for big adults – those rear chairs are as comfy as others in far dearer cars. The boot is long and wide, big enough for four standard-sized suitcases. And, if that’s too little, you can drop the rear seats to boost space.
The diesel rumbles when cold and is noisy at low speeds. It settles, though, to a hushed drone on the motorway, where the car also rides the bumps well. Slow as you enter a town and it isn’t as calm, though. The Epica’s suspension thumps over pitted surfaces and pushes noise inside the car. The steering feels sure but lacks feedback response, so it’s a car to waft in, not press on. The gearbox feels the same, slipping smoothly between ratios when you drive gently. But hoof it and it resists, missing a beat and then banging across the gears.
It sips fuel for a big car, returning a so-so 37.2mpg overall. Save £1100 and buy one with a manual gearbox and it’ll travel an extra 9 miles per gallon, while dropping its emissions from 210g/km of CO2 to 169, which is a couple of road tax bands cheaper.
Depreciation – the rate at which the Epica loses value – is likely to hit hard. The trade reckons that, by 2011, our Epica will raise just £5500, traded for another new car. An £11,000 price-drop is harsh, though in fairness we should point pout that Ford’s Mondeo performs almost as badly. Consider another rival, Volkswagen’s Passat and you discover that one costing £16,500 will be worth £7000. Knowing that makes a new Epica appear less of a bargain.
- Engines2.0 common-rail diesel
- 0-60 mph10.6 sec (auto)
- Economy37.2mpg (a
- CO2g/km210 (auto)
- Insurance groups9D
Motors.co.uk value verdict: