Chevrolet Cruze 2.0 VCDi LT road test report

2.0 VCDi LT

Described as the most important new Chevrolet yet, the Korean-built Cruze 4-door saloon replaces the Lacetti and is designed to compete with cars like the Kia Ce’ed, Hyundai i30 and Skoda Octavia, as well the likes of the Focus, Astra and Golf. Prices start at under £12,000, although this top-spec, satnav-equipped LT model is almost £16,000.

Road Test Reports Says4 star rating
A front-facing image of the Chevrolet Cruze

Image number 2 of the Chevrolet Cruze

Performance Performance - 4 stars

There are currently three engine choices: 113PS 1.6 and 141PS 1.8 petrol units, as well as this 2.0 VCDi developing 150PS. (A 125PS CDi will follow in late Summer ’09.) Although the diesel’s 5-speed manual doesn’t have a particularly precise gearshift action – and this model would probably also benefit from a 6-speed option – performance is pretty is pretty punchy with 62mph coming up in 8.7secs and a 130mph top speed potential. Refinement is impressive too; the diesel engine is reasonably quiet at tickover and it maintains this quietness and smoothness while cruising along at speed.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 4 stars

First point to note is that the Cruze’s chassis is from the not-yet-launched, next generation Astra. Its ride is refined, supple and comfortable, almost regardless of speed or road surface. In fact, the ride quality is one of this car’s strongest attributes. Very spirited drivers might complain of a little too much body roll when pushing hard, and there’s no doubt that the chassis and suspension have wisely been set up for comfort rather than the ultimate high performance handling. Those same drivers might also criticise the Cruze’s slightly over-assisted power steering, but it didn’t cause me any concern on my test drive.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 3 stars

In the 2009 JD Power Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study, Chevrolet scored 756 points against an industry average of 781 and so ranked a lowly 27th out of the 29 manufacturers listed. So, there’s certainly room for improvement there, but the new Cruze would appear to be heading in the right direction. For a start it’s a good-looking car, both inside and out, and despite generous use of ‘plastiminium’, the design of the centre console, dash and instrumentation is quite striking. As mentioned, the Cruze provides a refined and quiet drive, which is a good sign, but niggles might include a flimsily-mounted front centre armrest and a thin boot floor.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 3 stars

The Cruze employs ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, a Traction Control System and Electronic Stability Control as standard. There are also side curtain airbags, seat-mounted side airbags, driver and passenger airbags, a collapsible pedal assembly and seatbelt pre-tensioners in the front. ISOFIX loops for child seats are provided for the outer rear seats, and it’s also possible to secure a child seat in the centre rear seat. The audible reminders for key left in ignition and seatbelts are also sure signs that Chevrolet is aiming for its first 5-star Euro NCAP rating when/if the Cruze is tested. There’s also remote locking, an engine immobiliser and a Thatcham Category 1 alarm.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 3 stars

As mentioned at the top, the Cruze is a 4-door saloon, not a 5-door hatchback like most of its rivals. This will appeal to other European markets that prefer the ‘executive’ image to the ‘family hatch’ look, but we Brits like the added practicality hatchbacks afford. That said, the Cruze’s interior and 450-litre boot are roomy enough, and the rear seats split/fold 60/40 to allow ‘through loading’. Other features include a dash-top storage box, map pockets on the rear of the front seats and shopping hooks, while this LT also has a stereo with CD changer, rain sensing wipers, parking sensors, power sockets, a USB aux-in socket, climate control, cruise control and more.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 4 stars

Cruze prices start at £11,995, rising to £15,195 (plus £750 for the optional satnav). Fuel consumption for the 2.0 VCDi is 50.4mpg combined with CO2 at 149g/km meaning £125 annual road tax. Insurance is group 10E/23E, with 2.0 VCDi models falling into the ‘P11D’ 17% tax bracket for company car drivers, making a well-equipped Cruze a prudent choice for the cost-conscious user chooser. In summary, the new Chevy Cruze is affordable, comfortable, practical, well-equipped and not at all bad looking. It should serve General Motors well, which, at the time of writing, needs all the help it can get.

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