As competition heats up in the subcompact car segment, Chevrolet is giving its value-priced Aveo a bolder design and more powerful engine.

Chevrolet will introduce the Aveo RS show car at the Detroit auto show next week. It’s meant to hint at the new, European-inspired styling of the 2011 Aveo, which will go on sale next year.

Chevrolet lowered the grille and gave the show car 19-inch (48-centimeter) tires for a tougher appearance. The Aveo is a four-door, but the rear-door handles are nearly hidden, giving the car the zippier look of a three-door hatchback.

The show car has the same 138-horsepower, 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine as the compact Chevrolet Cruze, which goes on sale later this year and gets 40 miles per gallon (17 kilometer per liter). That’s more pep than the Aveo’s current 108-horsepower engine.

Aveo’s U.S. sales peaked in 2005, but the car has been struggling as newer subcompacts came on the market, including the Nissan Versa, the Honda Fit and the Toyota Yaris.

The Aveo will be part of a small-car blitz at the Detroit show, where automakers will be displaying the new Ford Focus, Mazda2, the electric Nissan Leaf and an electric concept version of the Fiat 500. Chevrolet also will be showing its Spark minicar.

Keywords: ChevroletAveoDetroit

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