From £14,2206

Price, fuel economy and range, finance and depreciation

Depreciation is almost always the biggest running cost, and that can apply especially to budget cars, whose fundamental draw is price rather than the car itself. That the Chevrolet Cruze is not without appeal should ensure a depreciation curve considerably less precipitous than was suffered by the Lacetti, something helped by it having air-con or climate control as standard across the entire range. However, it is worth noting that the hatch will fare far better than the saloon, whose value will plummet far faster.

Fuel consumption and emissions for the 1.8 petrol aren’t bad for an engine of this size, and insurance groupings are fair. But the cheaper-than-average purchase price certainly doesn’t indicate a car that will be cheaper than average to run. A sixth gear would undoubtedly improve the 1.8-litre Chevrolet’s fuel consumption, but the 31.2mpg that we achieved on test was respectable.

The Cruze is cheap to run, but makes more sense as a used buy

Officially, the 1.6 petrol claims very similar economy figures to the 1.8, but in our experience, in real world driving, you end up working it harder to keep up with traffic and therefore use more fuel.

The 2.0-litre diesel’s 50.3mpg claimed average is reasonably good, but mainstream rivals tend to go further on a gallon these days, which also equates to lower CO2 emissions; that does it no favours in the eyes of company car buyers.

Better is the 1.7-litre diesel which emits 117g/km making it far more appealing to tax-concious drivers. Although we were unable to match the claimed 62.7mpg (we rarely do), a 46.7mpg test figure is respectable, and 10 per cent better than the Focus 1.6 TDCi we have previously recorded. The problem is entry-level diesel versions of the class's elite are only £1000 more expensive, which is close enough to lure a good portion of customers away. Adjusting the price for the difference in spec, a Focus 1.6 TDCi 115 Edge has a virtually identical price tag.

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Even considering the Cruze’s fine engine, strong performance and practicality, you can’t help but think that it needs to be even cheaper. You’d certainly still be looking for a healthy discount from your Chevrolet dealer to be sure of getting ultimate value for money. 

As with most budget brands, a strong warranty comes as standard – five years in the case of Chevrolet, two more than mainstream rivals and two more than the likes of Skoda, too. It’s still overshadowed by Kia’s seven-year coverage, though.