- We like...supple ride; generous kit
- We don't...Uncomfy centre rear seat
New cost-conscious mid-size car offers good space and generous spec for little cash. And it's pretty good to drive, too The bar has raised. Once cars from so-called budget makes – like Chevrolet – could get away with being, erm, pretty so-so, because they were cheap by comparison with similar Fords, Volkswagens or Vauxhalls. But that’s no longer.
The standard has jumped and second-line makers including Hyundai and Kia have shown that they can make cars that are genuinely enjoyable to drive and own, while keeping prices sensible.
The Cruze here is to replace the Lacetti in Chevrolet’s line-up. It’s a no-nonsense Astra-sized car that puts something new within the grasp of buyers who would otherwise have to settle for a used car. And it’s really pretty good.
The Cruze squares up at the kerb as decent looking and competently made. The only real style concession to its ‘Chevy’ badge is that big cheese-cutter grille up-front, which looks better in the black-only of the entry model rather than the over-chromed variant capping the front of dearer ones.
Otherwise, it’s an angular car when parked next to the flowing lines you’ll see in, say, the latest Golf but it’s neat and handsome enough.
Inside it’s roomy and pleasant, although the fabric and metal clad dash in the top-line LT models (costing, depending on engine choice, up to £15,195) gives way to a cheaper-looking two-tone version in the S model, which is the lowest-priced. Even so, there’s plenty there for the money – even the cheapest has air conditioning, six airbags, remote locking and electric front windows, although the steering adjusts only for height. Step up to the LT and it also gs in/out as well as up/down.
There are seats for five and fair leg-, shoulder- and headroom throughout, although the centre rear seat is really hard and, we’d suggest, no good for anything other than the shortest of hops.
The chassis and running gear are pretty much what you’ll get with the next Vauxhall Astra. It’s no surprise then that the car is quiet and composed across the kind of broken surfaces you’ll find in most cities. But what is impressive is the way it keeps the sound of bumps and thumps away from the driver and occupants, making it a sweet car in which to cover big distances.
The steering is pretty quick and the clutch and gears are light, making it a doddle to drive smoothly and without effort. It dsn’t have the finesse you’ll discover in a Focus or a Golf, but it’s closer than maybe you’d expect.
We drove a 1.6 petrol and a 2.0 diesel. The first of these comes from the Astra and, while it ds a fair job of hauling the Cruze, it’ll need caning before the car shifts and then it’s noisy. The diesel, also found in the Captiva off-roader, is smooth and cultured here, pulling well while making less noise fuss than the petrol one will.
Should you buy one? There’s no reason not to: it ds most things well and hardly any badly. As it is, it’s available only as a saloon (four doors plus boot) where rivals Kia and Hyundai will happily sell you a similar car, for similar money but with the added versatility of a hatchback. Chevrolet, we hear, will bring a hatchback Cruze to market in a year. Until then if a saloon’s fine, then the Cruze’s worth a look, although we should add that other budget-brand rivals now have five- and even seven-year warranties, which beat Chevrolet’s three-year cover.
- Engines1.6 petrol, 2.0 diesel
- Power112bhp, 150bhp
- 0-60 mph11.8secs, 8.7secs
- Economy41.5mpg, 5
- CO2g/km159, 149
- Insurance groups4E, 10E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: