"The Cruze hatchback represents fantastic value for money and comes with a five-year warranty."
The Chevrolet Cruze launched in the UK in 2008 in saloon form and it wasn’t until 2011 that the range was joined by this more practical hatchback. The hatchback offered a versatile interior, decent boot and generous equipment - all at a budget price. The Cruze represents a good alternative to some of the more obvious choices on the market. Our pick would be the 1.7-litre diesel, which combines well with the general comfort of the car to make a decent long distance cruiser in keeping with its name.
The Cruze comes with four engines, two petrols and two diesels. The petrols come with only a five-speed manual gearbox and, as a result, sound a bit strained at motorway speeds. The pick of the diesels is the 1.7-litre VCDi, which has a six-speed gearbox and delivers its power in a smooth quiet manner, while combining it with plenty of power. The steering of the Cruze is a little light for some tastes but this does make it easier to manoeuvre around town. Grip on faster bends is a little lower than some of the cars rivals, such as the Ford Focus or VW Golf, and the ride is not a match for either car, being a little jarring over rough surfaces. The Cruze, then, is not a driver's car but is only a little worse than the Hyundai i30.
The dashboard is the highlight of the Cruze. It is stylish and more interesting than many in its class and is supposedly based upon the Corvette. Combined with the firm but comfortable seats, the driver sits in a decent environment. The real problem with the Chevrolet Cruze is that it's a considerable let down in terms of refinement. There are too many surfaces that set the car shaking its occupants about with its stiff and unrelenting ride. Road, engine and wind noise levels are very high at motorway speeds and the poor quality of the interior means that the whole experience becomes very tiring after a while.
GM has done a lot to improve the reliability across its brands and none more so than at Chevrolet. The Cruze is a modern car based upon tried-and-tested GM mechanicals and so should prove to be fairly reliable over its lifetime. The previous poor reputation of Chevrolet in Europe was based on the rebadged Daewoo's sold here and shouldn’t reflect on the current range. That being said, some of the materials inside the Cruze feel cheap and flimsy and don’t look like they will live up to a many years of abuse. To offset this, every Chevrolet Cruze comes with a five-year warranty. In terms of safety, the saloon version has won five stars in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests and comes equipped with airbags for both front occupants. The hatchback is yet to be tested but we believe it shouldn’t differ greatly from the saloon version in this area.
The hatchback version of the Cruze adds some useful extra practicality to the range, with 11mm added to the rear headspace as a surprise bonus. The boot, however, has taken a bit of a cut in capacity, coming down from 450 litres to 413 litres in the change to a hatchback. This is a decent size for the class and is nearly 100 litres larger than the Ford Focus. Access is also very good to the boot, which makes it easier to use than the Citroen C4's. What the Cruze lacks is a false floor to the boot or any other clever solutions and only offers a few simple tie downs for loose items in the boot. The Cruze comes equipped with a number of cubbyholes throughout the car allowing small items to be stowed easily, and the glove box is a decent size.
Value for money
Many of the Chevrolet's rivals offer better dynamics and comfort, but the equipment in the Cruze brings the car into its own. Entry-level S models are equipped as standard with remote locking, air-conditioning, electric windows and a CD player. Mid-range LS models add alloy wheels, foglights and rear parking sensors. The Flagship LTZ is positively laden with standard kit including automatic lights and wipers, cruise control and iPod connectivity. Chevrolet has long been seen as a budget brand in the UK, but the introduction of the Camaro has allowed for the brand to move a little upmarket. However, the Cruze still remains good value for money.
The 1.7-litre diesel is our pick of the Cruze range and conservative drivers can enjoy up to 62.7mpg in fuel economy. Even if this isn’t top of the class, it's very competitive and a distinct improvement over the 1.6 and 1.8-litre petrols in the range, which manage to returnonly 42.8mpg apiece. The five-year warranty and a three-year fixed price servicing scheme means that keeping the car on the road won’t break the bank either. Resale value is a fly in the ointment for all Chevrolets and the Cruze doesn’t do well here either, but the low initial cost of the car should make any losses taken at resale much easier to bare.