Few cars in the executive sedan category look as striking and characterful as the Chevrolet Cruze. Ever since its launch the car has managed to set itself apart from a crowd in this segment thanks to its bold looks and feisty diesel engine. However, of late, sales have fallen, largely due to the arrival of newer and fresher rivals. However, Chevrolet wants to change all that with the updated Cruze, which we have tested here.
You will need a sharp pair of eyes to be able to tell the changes on the new car immediately. The front bumper is all-new and has new fog lamp housing. The grille has been updated as well now but apart from that you get the same again styling. The rear double barrel tail lamps looks stylish as well and the car has a proportioned and balanced stance to it. Despite being over three years old the Cruze still looks the part and will manage to attract buyers purely on its looks alone.
The cockpit like theme has been the Cruze’s key strength inside the cabin and Chevrolet have thankfully not changed that. The car gets the same stylish interiors. Unlike most rivals, which offer a combination of black and beige, the company has chosen to keep the cabin all black with a bit of grey in it. This works well for the Cruze and the car’s cabin feels and looks very sporty on the inside. The centre console is easy to use and all controls fall easily at hand.
Engine, Performance and Gearbox
The Cruze comes with a 2-litre common rail diesel engine with 164bhp and 380Nm of torque, making it the most powerful car in its class. You get a choice of a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic gearbox. We got to drive the automatic here. This engine is one of the most refined units on any car in its segment, and also has a very punchy midrange. Just one push of the accelerator pedal sends such a rush of torque to the wheels that you will be instantly shoved into your seats. Performance is simply blistering.
The automatic gearbox does a good job of masking the car’s initial turbo lag. The six-speed unit is effortless and jerk-free for the most part and even when you manually select gears, the car feels sporty enough.
Ride and handling
Grip levels from the tyres is impressively good as well as is the braking, which means that you can brake hard from high speeds with good loads of confidence. High speed stability is very good too. The handling is decent but just a step below the Skoda Octavia and VW Jetta. Still the Cruze feels sure-footed. The ride is comfortable as well in the city, but some of the sharper crevices do enter the cabin. On the highway, the Cruze doesn’t have the same confidence as some rivals but it feels stable enough.
Safety and equipment
The top-of-the line version comes loaded with four airbags along with the obligatory ABS. Climate control, Bluetooth for the stereo and steering mounted controls are all standard. You also get leather seats, a sunroof and alloy wheels as standard kit.
The Cruze takes on the Toyota Altis and the Skoda Octavia in this highly competitive segment. While the Altis has the edge on sheer brand image, the Octavia is a better package dynamically, but none are as powerful as the Cruze or have sporty interiors like it.
While the Cruze may not have a posh badge like some of its rivals, it comes with a punchy diesel engine, sporty looks on the inside and out and a comfortable ride, making it a charming car on its own.