The Chevrolet Cruze has been around for quite a few years now but has had limited appeal in the UK due to its saloon-only bodystyle. In 2011 Chevrolet finally launched a variant which appeals most to us Brits – a five-door hatchback. Furthermore earlier this year the Cruze received a mild facelift to keep it looking fresh so I decided to give the one a try to see what it has to offer. I tested a high-spec LTZ fitted with GM’s trusty 1.7-litre VCDi diesel engine
For those who aren’t familiar with the Cruze it’s a keenly priced alternative to the likes of the Ford Focus, VW Golf and Vauxhall Astra – the latter of which shares the same platform.
For your £19,420 you certainly get a good level of kit in top LTZ trim. Climate and cruise control, rear parking sensors with reversing camera, automatic lights, 17 inch alloy wheels, all-round electric windows, bluetooth connectivity and sat nav are all standard.
To look at the Cruze has a crisp, sophisticated look with angular lights and Chevrolet’s large split grill up front. It sits well on its 17 inch wheels and a revised lower bumper with more upright foglight surrounds look smart. The transition from saloon to hatchback hasn’t been entirely successful to these eyes however leaving the rear looking a little anonymous and frumpy.
Inside the Cruze has a simple, well thought out cabin that is appealingly finished with gloss black and metallic effect trim on the centre console. A fabric section on the dashboard ahead of the front passenger is an interesting touch that seems to work well.
The only niggles I had was the location of the blower control knob that I kept knocking with my knee and the lack of somewhere to rest my left foot when not using the clutch.
The cabin trim is robust rather than luxurious but at least the steering wheel and gear shift are leather bound and the seats are well shaped and very comfortable. There is also no denying that it’s well screwed together.
Space inside is class competitive with enough room for four adults with plenty of small storage areas. The boot offers quite a bit more room than many of its rivals at 413 litres but suffers from a high load-lip and stepped floor when the rear seats are folded. To drive the Cruze is competent if unexciting with an easygoing nature. Its ride is comfortable but firm so body movements are well controlled when cornering but the steering is vague at best and grip levels are no better than average. The 6-speed gearbox however has a pleasantly smooth, precise action.
With a 1.7-litre diesel engine under the bonnet performance is surprisingly perky reaching 60 mph in just 9.8 seconds. The units powerband is a little narrow but with 128 bhp and 221 lb ft of torque under your right foot there is plenty of grunt for overtaking. It’s also smooth and pretty refined especially on motorway stretches.
Running costs won’t break the bank with emissions of 117 g/km taxing the Cruze costs just £30 per year. Fuel economy is also good- Chevrolet quote 62.7 mpg combined and I managed a still very decent 55 mpg. All Chevrolets also come with a generous 5 year warranty.
Price as tested: £19,420
Engine: 1.7 litre 16v 128 bhp – 0-60 mph: 9.8 secs – Maximum Speed: 124 mph –
Economy: 51.3 mpg (urban) –72.4 mpg (extra-urban), 62.7 mpg (combined) – Emissions: 117 g/km (Band C) – VED (12 months): £30
Dimensions: Length: 4,999 mm – Width: 2,220 mm – Height: 1,835 mm – Wheelbase: 2922 mm
*data from Chevrolet UK
By adding a hatchback variant to their lineup Chevrolet has really increased the appeal of the Cruze in the UK.
It offers buyers hassle-free family transport that’s smartly designed, practical, refined and comfortable. The Cruze also represents good value for money especially as base models can be had for just over £14,500 and discounts are easy to negotiate.
Although the Cruze doesn’t excel in any one area it has a broad range of talents that make it any easy car to get on with and should prove reliable and cheap to run. It LTZ trim as tested here it is also very well equipped.
Perhaps what’s most important is that the Cruze shows just how far Chevrolet has come recently especially when you consider how poor the previous generation Lacetti was.