The Chevrolet Cruze has been described as the most important model for General Motors since the company’s bankruptcy in 2009. Built in 11 factories around the world, this VW Golf-sized family car has, since 2008, been delivering growth for GM’s global ‘value’ brand. More than half a million have been sold in a little over three years.

So it might seem odd that the Cruze has yet to make a significant dent in the European C-segment. It’s actually a stark reminder that other territories – South America, China, Russia and India – are now much bigger priorities than the EU for one of the world’s true car-making giants.

Road tester
Chevrolet has come a long, long way since the days of Daewoo

Chevrolet’s big European push seems like it is beginning to gather momentum. The impressive new Aveo supermini is on sale and the Cruze has finally been made available in the flavour most palatable to European tastes – as a five-door hatchback, powered by a compact and economical turbodiesel.The estate is expected to take around 12 per cent of sales.

It certainly has the potential to suit tight budgets. The well equipped base model comes in at a keen price, while the top-of-the-range version remains shy of an entry-level Ford Mondeo.

Engine choices are nowhere near as wide as that from Ford: you’ve only got 1.6 or 1.8-litre petrols and 1.7 and 2.0-litre diesel to choose from in S, LS , LT  and LTZ trim levels (not every trim is available with every engine, though).

Buyers have the choice of a five-door hatchback, four-door saloon or five-door estate - with the former taking the vast majority of sales.