Monday, 30 April 2012 11:18 AM
The Chevy Cruze has been with us in hatchback and saloon models for a while now, with an estate variant on the way soon, too. But there’s a new, more efficient, 117g/km CO2 turbodiesel engine to talk about that hits the Cruze range in May, and that’s what we’re trying out today in this 5-door hatchback.
The 1.7-litre, 4-cylinder, VCDi turbodiesel motor makes a reasonable-sounding 130PS, with torque at a handy 300Nm, while the all-important eco-stats are 117g/km of CO2 – which is pretty decent – and a claimed combined fuel economy of 62.7mpg.
Perhaps less important in these tough times are the performance stats, which sit at 124mph at the top, with a 60mph-sprint of 9.4secs. Under 10 seconds always sounds better!
Chevrolet Cruze LT hatchback 1.7 VCDi first drive review
The Chevrolet family face is a striking one with a large front grille horizontally split by a body colour-coded bar carrying the famous Chevy bowtie badge. We see it in full effect on this LT spec Cruze hatchback – priced from £17,825 – flanked by large, modern-looking, backward-sweeping headlights and a fair amount of black plastic detailing on the front-end that also trims the glass areas. It all adds up to a quite strong ‘American flavour’ for the styling.
The Chevy Cruze hatchback is around £4,000 cheaper than the Cruze saloon – which is worth noting if budget is your biggest concern - and the complete Cruze range come across as chunky and well put together for me; if a little underwhelming. But, the current crop of Chevy designers do try hard to differentiate their cars from the rest of the crowd and if you look around there some neat and modern-looking design touches here and there.
Into the interior:
I’m driving the LT spec Cruze today, wrapped around their new 1.7-litre VCDi diesel engine, and it’ll cost you from £17,825 (with this engine), with the Cruze hatch range starting at £16,725 for the entry-level LS and topping out at £18,685 for the LTZ.
The LT’s seats are all fabric – LTZ gets the leather seen in the pics below – and while LT’s seat design could be described as basic, the actual feel of the seat fabric was nicely soft in the centre, but I personally could’ve done with some extra width to the seat base.
There was plenty of seat adjustment to work with; slide and height, but I just needed some more steering wheel slide to get really comfy as I’m topping the measuring tape at 6’ 4”. Overall, I’d mark my seating position at 90%, which is comfy enough, if not perfect.
The clocks are quietly styled and very clear and easy to read, and well shielded from sunlight, while the centre console is another nicely neat and uncluttered affair that’s instantly familiar to use. A few touches of silver here and there lift the interior experience without overdoing it. I also like the current Chevy steering wheel and gear-shifter styling that feel and look modern and chunky, with leather-wrapping on this LT spec.
This new 1.7-litre VCDi engine is all about grabbing the attention of the fleet market where CO2-linked taxation is the ruling factor is purchasing, but there’s also the claimed 62.7mpg combined economy figure to prick the interest of frugal-minded families. A stop/start system also helps with economy.
I had a few hours behind the wheel of the Cruze on some nicely deserted – though very wet – country lanes, and found the frugally-focused, 130PS engine an engaging performer; in fact this entire Cruze hatch package came across in a likeable fashion.
There’s enough punch from the engine to make decent progress and the 6-speed manual gearbox in this test car felt slick and I found it easy to work the ratios hard.
I like my suspension on the firmer side and the Cruze felt nicely nippy and controlled on that score with a ride and directness of feel that encouraged some fun, even in super-slippery conditions. The brakes had a nice weight and bite for my liking, too.
During a pretty spirited drive I saw the in-dash economy metre nudging the 48mpg mark, so a higher figure should be available if you do a lot of motorway work and you’re more friendly with your right foot.
Ten second sum up:
I found the Chevrolet Cruze LT hatchback 1.7 VCDi to be an engaging package for back lane fun with a clean and uncluttered interior, punchy 130PS diesel engine and a slick 6-speed gearbox. The styling is perhaps not as advanced as some European manufacturers, but its got a look all its own, led by that famous Chevy bowtie badge.
Prices and availability:
The Chevrolet Cruze range starts at £13,995 for the hatchback and £18,200 for the saloon. Price at tested, £17,825, for the Cruze LT hatchback 1.7 VCDi. The Cruze range is currently available, while the new 1.7 VCDi engine comes to the range in May.
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