What is it?
We drove the chiselled ‘compact sedan’ version of the Chevrolet Cruze in 2009. Now, a hatchback joins the line-up in a realistic bid to increase Cruze sales by 7000 a year to 10,000.
What's it like?
The addition of the hatchback model makes the Cruze a more practical family car. Although luggage capacity has been reduced by 37 litres to 413 litres compared with the saloon, the absence of a bulkhead allows 883 litres to be stowed with the seats folded down. The Vauxhall Astra – a car that shares the same global Delta platform as the Cruze – offers 75 litres less boot space but better rear passenger accommodation.
As with the saloon, we’re impressed with the new car. The interior feels as fresh and original as it did in 2009, with an attractive centre console design that’s not as fussy as the Ford Focus’s. The seats are supportive, the driving position is good and there’s lots of kit as standard. In mid-spec LTZ guise, you get parking sensors, automatic wipers and headlights, 17in alloy wheels, Bluetooth and USB.
Until now, sales of the Cruze have favoured petrol power over diesel, which is surprising considering the 50mpg 2.0-litre diesel’s first-class flexibility. Mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, it can hit 60mph in 8.3sec and go on to 127mph (9.1sec and 129mph with the six-speed auto ’box). Come 2012, the Cruze will be available with a 1.7-litre diesel engine, which should prove popular.
At motorway speeds, the cabin is surprisingly hushed, more so than in the petrol-driven versions. And the steering is light and precise and works well with the composed chassis. The ride is firm but never uncomfortable.
Should I buy one?
For the money, there’s much to like about the Cruze. Although it isn’t as polished as its main rivals, you’ll save thousands on the purchase price.
Chevrolet Cruze LTZ 2.0 VCDI
Price: £17,795; Top speed: 127mph; 0-62mph: 8.3sec; Economy: 50.4mpg (combined); C02: 147g/km; Kerb weight: 1480kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1998cc, turbodiesel; Power: 161bhp at 3800rpm; Torque: 265lb ft at 1750-2750rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual