Chevrolet Cruze hatchback (2011-2015)
"The Chevrolet Cruze hatchback represents fantastic value for money and the diesels are cheap to run."
- Spacious interior
- Value for money
- Powerful diesel engine
- Average build quality
- Looks not to everyone’s taste
- You can't buy a new one any more
This more practical hatchback version of the Chevrolet Cruze was launched in 2011, but only lasted on sale until early 2015 as a result of Chevrolet's decision to stop selling cars in the UK.
The Cruze hatchback offered a versatile interior, a big boot and generous amounts of of standard equipment and accessories for a prettly low price. The Cruze was an affordable alternative to many of the more obvious choices on the family-car market, such as the Vauxhall Astra, Ford Focus and Hyundai i30. The 1.7-litre diesel engine was the top choice, combining general comfort with decent fuel economy and power to make decent long-distance cruiser.
Because you can't buy the Chevrolet Cruze new anymore, read on to see what we thought of it in 2012...
MPG, running costs & CO2
We'd recommend the 1.7-litre diesel Cruze, as it's the most economical in the range and should return up to 62.7mpg. That's not anywhere near the best in class, but it's competitive and much better than what you'll get from the 1.6 and 1.8-litre petrol engines in the range, which can only manage around 42.8mpg.
Thankfully, a three-year fixed-price servicing scheme and three-year warranty should keep maintenance costs in check. However, resale values on the used-car market are poor for all Chevrolets and you shouldn't expect the Cruze to buck that trend – but at least it's relatively inexpensive to buy in the first place.
Engines, drive & performance
You can get the Cruze with one of four engines – two diesels and two petrols. The latter are only available with a five-speed manual gearbox and so sound quite ragged at motorway speeds. Of the diesels, we'd go for the 1.7-litre VCDi, which has a six-speed gearbox and delivers its performance smoothly and quietly.
The Cruze's steering will be way too light for some tastes, but this does make the car easier to manoeuvre around town. It doesn't grip that well through bends, either, with the likes of the Ford Focus and VW Golf both doing better in this area. The Cruze isn't a driver's car, then, but it's only a bit worse than rivals like the Hyundai i30.
Interior & comfort
One thing the Cruze most definitely does have going for it is a nice dashboard – stylish and much more interesting than many in its class and supposedly based on dashboard of the Corvette sports car. Combined with the firm yet comfortable seats, it creates a pleasant environment for the driver.
But the Cruze is a considerable letdown when it comes to refinement. Far too often, the stiff suspension means that passengers are knocked and shaken about. Road, engine and wind noise are also very intrusive when driving at motorway speeds and the often poor quality of the interior makes the whole experience pretty tiring after a while.
Practicality & boot space
Adding a hatchback version alongside the saloon model of the Cruze brings extra practicality to the range – including 11mm of extra headroom in the back. Unusually, however, the boot has actually decreased in size by nearly 40 litres to 413 litres – but that's not bad when you consider it's still 100 litres bigger than the Ford Focus'.
You also get decent access to the boot to make loading easier than in rivals like the Citroen C4, but beyond that there's a distinct lack of clever storage solutions, with only a few simple tie-downs to hold loose items in the boot. The Cruze does come with a number of storage cubbies dotted throughout the car, allowing small items to be stowed easily, and the glove compartment is a decent enough size.
Reliability & safety
While Chevrolet continues its drive to improve reliability across its range, it didn't do so well in our 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, placing 20th out of 32 in the list of top manufacturers. That said, it didn't feature on the list at all in 2012, so leapfrogging the likes of Vauxhall and Ford is pretty impressive.
The Cruze is a modern car built using tried-and-tested General Motors parts and should prove to be fairly reliable during its lifetime. The previous version had a poor reputation for reliability, but it was based on a rebadged Daewoo and shouldn't reflect on the current range. Even so, some of the materials used inside the Cruze still feel cheap and flimsy and don't look like they'll stand up to many years of family abuse.
In terms of safety, the saloon version of the Cruze secured a full five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests and comes fitted with airbags for both front-seat occupants as standard.
Price, value for money & options
You can easily find a better drive or more comfort in many of the Cruze's main rivals, such as the Volkswagen Golf or Skoda Octavia, but the Chevrolet certainly offers an abundance of equipment and accessories for the price.
Entry-level S models are fitted with remote central locking, air-conditioning, electric windows and a CD player as standard. The mid-range LS model throws in alloy wheels, foglights and rear parking sensors, while the top-of-the-range LTZ is crammed full of standard equipment and accessories, including automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, cruise control and iPod connectivity.
Chevrolet’s reputation and position in the UK market has long been that of a budget brand, but bringing in the Camaro has changed that somewhat, allowing the brand to go a bit more upmarket. However, the Cruze remains good value for money.