Economy models at this end of the C-segment spectrum don’t generally excite or inspire. The better ones strike a sensible balance between directional precision and stability on the one hand and quiet compliance on the other. Unfortunately the Chevrolet Cruze isn't quite one of the better examples.
Whereas the really good ones (Focus and Golf specifically) do that with fluency and finesse, and with greater grip and composure than they’ll ever need, the Cruze simply does enough. It’s a car you could drive every day for five years without it provoking a single emotional reaction or agitated response.
The car rides with plenty of soft, absorptive comfort. It has more than enough tyre sidewall and wheel travel to deal with broken surfaces and expansion joints quietly and without disturbing those in the cabin. The damping is adequate but not quite sufficiently well tuned to return the body of the car to a level equilibrium as smoothly or effortlessly as the class’s best dynamic performers.
Fairly wide tracks help to keep body roll in check most of the time and deliver consistent steering precision to the wheels. The electro-hydraulic steering is light and easy to use; it’s short on the feedback necessary to involve on a meaningful level but well enough paced to make the car feel both manoeuvrable and stable.
Narrow tyres and a good stability control system make for confident, secure handling in the wet. When the car does run out of lateral grip, it understeers – just as any car in this class would. It reaches its limits a little sooner than some and is a little less balanced and controllable on the limit than the very best in this class.
Will any of that matter to the average Cruze driver? You wouldn’t think so. This just isn’t a car for keen drivers and, as such, baseline dynamic competence, security and ease of use are probably all it needs.