At launch, only the punchier Cruze diesel was available. Now Chevrolet has introduced a lower powered derivative. Ian Robertson puts it to the test
Much has been made of Chevrolet’s parent company’s woes. Yet through these difficult times, Chevy has managed to launch a new mid-sized car in the UK – the Cruze – and it’s a far cry from some of the rebadged Daewoo models that have previously littered Chevrolet’s line-up.
Peer through the window and it’s instantly obvious that Chevrolet stylists have worked hard to give the cabin a little extra dose of flair. The cloth cladding that graces the dashboard may well seem strange, but it’s novel and adds to the tactile nature of the interior. The brushed alloy detailing is attractive, but it’s a shame that there aren’t any soft-touch plastics to lift the perceived quality. Anyone familiar with Vauxhall products will identify some interior fittings from the GM parts-bin, but it could be argued that the Cruze was designed first, so it is GM that has raided the Chevy stock. The driving position is comfortable, with supportive front seats, and the leather steering wheel feels thick and substantial. The one weak link in the dashboard is the colour of the displays, where the mid-blue back lighting is often difficult to read in poor light. Cabin space is reasonably good, with room for four in comfort, although headroom will be tight for anyone over six feet tall. Boot space is generous at 450 litres, but the boot lid feels tinny when it’s closed, which belies the car’s budget status.
Out on the road, the new 123bhp version of the 2.0-litre VCDi engine is willing and quiet once it’s on the move. Refinement is good, although it sounds a little clattery at idle and noisy when extended close to the rev limiter. Fuel economy and CO2 emissions are kept well in check at 51.4mpg and 145g/km respectively. Handling is safe and predictable, with acceptable levels of grip. The steering feels alert and precise, and while the Cruze is certainly no driver’s car, it will deliver you to your destination in an unruffled and comfortable state, and it feels composed at all times.
Value is one of the Cruze’s strongest points, as it costs just £14,345. But that budget price doesn’t mean that you get less standard kit, as LS trim comes with chunky 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, leather steering wheel and gearknob, rear parking sensors, four electric windows, air conditioning and electric and heated door mirrors. The Cruze has few four-door saloon rivals and it undercuts them all in terms of price. It’s a veritable bargain, especially when you consider its ability and generous specification.
RIVALS: Dodge Avenger 2.0 CRD SE, Mitsubishi Lancer 2.0 DI-D GS3, Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.0 TDI CR
- Engine: 1991cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 5-speed manual
- Max power: 123bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max torque: 221lb ft at 2,000rpm
- Max towing weight: 1,200kg
- Max speed: 122mph
- 0-62mph: 10.3secs
- Combined consumption: 51.4mpg
- CO2 emissions (taxband): 145g/km (F)
- Bootspace: 450litres
- Insurance group: 20
Great value, bold styling, comfortable to drive, willing engine
Residual values are likely to be a concern, clattery engine when idling or extended, tinny feel to bootlid