SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 11,740 Price As Tested $ 12,845 Engine Type SOHC 4-valve 1.3 Liter I4 w/MFI* Engine Size 79 cid Horsepower 79 @ 6000 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 75 @ 3000 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 93.1"/62.6"/164" Transmission Three-speed automatic Curb Weight 2015 pounds Fuel Capacity 10.6 gallons Tires (F/R) P155/80R13 Brakes (F/R) Disc /drum Drive Train Front-engine/front-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Four-passenger/four-door Domestic Content 50 Percent Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) N/A PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 30/34/31 0-60 MPH 13 seconds 1/4 Mile (E.T.) 20.5 seconds @ 70.5 mph Top speed 95 mph * Multi-port fuel injection
(With 50 years behind the wheel, Bob Hagin has owned some very small cars. These include the 800-pound BMW Isetta "bubble-car," so the size of the Chevy Metro LSi's doesn't astound him. His son Matt says the car is great for college kids, as long as infant seats aren't required.)
BOB - The little Chevy Metro four-door that we're evaluating this week is well-named. Its tiny size makes it perfect for squirting around town, or maybe even commuting in from the suburbs. It's not, however, a vehicle for a commuter pool. Those relegated to the rear seat would soon form an armed revolt - if they could still walk. But the four-door is still a good choice, since it makes getting "stuff" in and out of the back easier than dragging it over the front seats.
MATT - Now that I have a couple of kids, I look at cars differently, Dad. Although both of my girls are decades away from going off to college, this car would be perfect for them to own as a first car when they go out on their own. It's a Chevy, so it would be easy to get serviced and its fuel economy would keep buying gas from becoming a kid's budget-breaker. With the optional automatic transmission, it would be easy to drive for a neophyte driver, and with only 79 horsepower on tap, a kid would have to work to go fast enough to get into trouble. The front bucket seats are comfortable enough, and the instrument panel is laid out conveniently, but I think I'd put in an upgraded sound system before the girls faced their school friends.
BOB - There's a couple of other things I recommend before you sent the girls off to school in a Metro, Matt. I'd want to see them taught to drive a stick shift since the three-speed automatic saps too much power. This little 1.3 liter four-banger is really a jewel of an engine. It puts out 79 horsepower from 79 cubic inches, is all-aluminum, has four valves per cylinder and its new multi-port fuel injection system accounts for nine of those 79 ponies. But it's asking a lot to expect it to provide much more than pedal-car performance when it's bolted up to a three-speed automatic transmission and required to pull around over 2000 pounds of iron, plus passengers. If they had air conditioning as well as the automatic, it would be like driving around with the parking brake on. If they needed help in learning how to drive a Metro with the standard five-speed, both of us grandfathers would be more than happy to do some tutoring. I'd also want their Metro to have the optional anti-skid brake system and power steering as well.
MATT - Another thing I'd change, Dad, is the rubber. Those little 155/80-13 tires just look too small, so I'd go up a size or two and I'd put a fifth, full-sized tire and wheel in place of the tiny emergency spare that comes as standard equipment. This year Chevy has tightened up the suspension a bit with roll-bars on both ends and grippier tires to make the Metro a much "crisper" package.
BOB - There's some safety features on the Metro LSi that makes it easy for new drivers, too. When the defroster is first activated, the a/c blower automatically comes on to help disperse the mist inside the car. Another one I like for new drivers is the fact that the Metro has daytime running headlights and a sensor that automatically turns them on full power when it gets dark. I'd also want the car to have the optional power locks since kids sometimes forget to lock the doors.
MATT - All Chevy Metros are made in Ontario, Canada, in a joint venture-type operation with Suzuki. According to the promotional packet we got with the car, Chevrolet is targeting the Metro line at the twenty-something college crowd. It's even going so far as to provide movie screenings of the cars on college campuses, and sponsoring a traveling music festival called Horizons Of Rock Development Everywhere. Tom went to one of those stadium concerts a couple of years ago. He said it featured lots of popular bands and a whole bunch of other wild and crazy activities.
BOB - Let me get this straight, Matt. That makes the acronym of that program "HORDE," which means a rushing or tumultuous crowd. I'm glad that my granddaughters won't be college-bound for at least 15 years.