Car tested: 2009 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ VCDi
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 14,69,889/-
An American car is launched in Asia first because the American company cant afford to launch the car in its home country. Times change but that does not take away anything from the Chevrolet Cruze. Known as the successor to the Optra, the Chevrolet Cruze has all that it takes to take on the competition. With many first in the segment features the Chevrolet Cruze looks promising but how well does it fare is what we find out.
Exteriors – The Chevrolet Cruze is a mean muscular machine. The huge bowtie batch on the front seems to be there to remind us that General Motors is back. The front is probably the most appealing part of the Cruze and the car appears to be wider than the Optra with the headlights blending into the sides quite nicely. The front grille is pretty large and that makes the Chevrolet Cruze look much bigger and meaner. The fog lights are bigger than most cars and are pretty useful at night.
The rear is pretty much how any sedan looks but the chrome lining connecting the taillights looks cool. The tail lights are also uniquely shaped and look smart.
The Chevrolet Cruze rides on 16 inch alloys which look decent enough too.
The headlamps are powerful and do a good job at night. The reverse light is powerful too and is more go than show. Top models are equipped with reverse guide system and an automatic tilt and slide sunroof.
Interiors – Unlike regular cars you need not unlock the car with the remote. The Cruze will detect if the key is on you and open the door whose handle you pull. Smart ain’t it?? The first of its kind in this segment, the motion sensor on the dash detects the key and opens the door.
Get inside the Cruze and you struggle to find the ignition. You wonder where the key is to be inserted and then realize that key is pretty much useless. The lower left side of the steering houses the “start” button. Push start….Awwwesome. To stop the engine, just press the same button again and the engine goes dead. Another interesting thing to note is that if the key happens to be outside the car, the car simply refuses to start.
The Interiors feel classy and the silver finished central console steals the show. The multi information display screen is nicely placed and is pretty much at eye level. Temperature inside the cabin, outside temperature, blower speed, audio details are just some of the things displayed on the multi information display.
The audio system is decent but the sound quality is strictly average. The system looks quite fancy however. Controls to the audio are pretty good on the other hand. Its easy to switch between media and audio controls on the steering wheel means that u don’t have to take your hands of the steering wheel.
The steering is comfortable to hold and has depression for the fingers for a comfortable grip. The instrument cluster looks good especially at night. The steering does end up hiding the odometer and one has to literally peek over the steering to see the reading.
Front legroom as good as so is the rear but for a tall person the rear seat is a bit uncomfortable as headroom is inadequate and inevitably ones hair tends to brush the roof.
Built Quality – Superb is the word. The Chevrolet Cruze is built to last. The doors are heavy and shut with a loud thud. Even on rough roads the Cruze is oblivious to any rattling sounds. The interior plastic quality is not bad but below par as compared to some of its competitors.
On the Move – As mentioned before, you just need to have the key on you. There is no option of cranking the car to start with the key. Open the Door. Sit inside. Fasten your seatbelt. Depress the clutch and then press the start button once… the 2 litre VCDi engine roars to life with a powerful grunt. This push button start is really impressive, maybe because it’s the first of its kind in the segment but we were really impressed with the concept. The seating position is a bit awkward and it takes some adjustment to be comfortable. Since the Cruze has an elevated boot, reversing becomes a bit of a problem but the reverse guide system comes to use in this eventuality.
As we slot the car into first gear, we notice that the clutch is amazingly responsive. On accelerating out there is an evident turbo lag in each gear till about 2000 rpm. Driving the car below the 2000 rpm can be really frustrating as the in gear acceleration is anything but great….but only till the turbo kicks in and once it does the Cruze is flying at low altitude. That clearly emphasizes the fact that the Cruze is meant to be driven hard and the harder you drive it the meaner it gets. The gearshift is not at all smooth and clearly fits in the notchy criteria but the engine performance kind of makes up for it. GM needs some lessons on how to make a good gearbox.
The Chevrolet Cruze is also equipped with cruise control which can be activated by flicking a button on the steering wheel. Another thing which we found rather peculiar was that the Chevrolet Cruze comes without a clutch rest. That’s funny since the Optra had it as a standard feature. Another point which was noted is that the wiper and headlamp switches have been interchanged. Why? We don’t know but the correction is more than welcome.
Ride, Handling and Braking – The Chevrolet Cruze boasts of excellent riding comfort. The car sails comfortably over the worst of the bumps on the road. The suspension soaks in most of the jerks and hardly anything is transferred to the cabin. However the Cruze is not the sharpest handling car but nevertheless does decently well. The 16 inch wheels contribute to the handling characteristics but the car steps out of line when cornered hard and tends to understeer. A sudden flick of the steering sticks the rear end of the car out quite easily and thats good fun to catch but mind you, thats not something you want to do during regular traveling. The handling suffers a bit primarily due to the car being front heavy. Braking is exceptional with all 4 disc brakes and ABS. The only thing which lets the braking down a bit are the 205/60/16 JK Vectras. However, even with the JK Vectras the braking is impressive.
Performance – The Cruze is meant to be driven hard and it does not disappoint. The VCDi diesel punches out enough power to deliver an exhilarating performance and makes the car fun to drive as well. The acceleration is superb with excellent braking and the car is amazingly stable at high speeds. The gearbox is a bit notchy but thats there with most GM cars.
Push the car hard and it does not seem to run out of steam. It easily crosses 140. The best part is that even after driving the car extremely hard it always gave us a double digit average. That is something which most buyers look at before purchasing any car.
Conclusion – The Cruze is a complete package. Its delivers exceptional performance, gives good mileage and is a large family car with a big boot and to top it all is priced much lower than the competition. GM surely has a winner on its hands but with the global image of GM in shadow, more and more people are wary of buying GM products. Will the Cruze be a turnaround for GM? Only time will tell but surely the Cruze is in demand at the moment with many Indians choosing to Cruze.
- Ride quality
- Turbo lag
- No clutch rest
- JK Vectra tyres
Chevrolet Cruze Diesel Specification
- Engine: 1991cc, VDCi
- Power: 150PS @ 4000rpm
- Torque: 327Nm @ 2600rpm
- Transmission: 5 speed manual
- Top Speed: 210kmph
- 0-100kmph: 10.30 seconds
- Fuel Consumption: 10-11 kmpl (City), 12-13 kmpl (highway)
- Fuel Type: Diesel
- Suspension: Mcpherson Strut with linear cylindrical coil spring and tubular stabilizer bar system (Front), Compound crank type with non-linear mini-block coil spring (Rear)
- Tires: 205/60/16 Tubeless Radials
- Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Discs ( Rear), ABS, EBD
- Safety: ABS, EBD, Dual SRS Front Airbags, Advanced Security System, Emergency Exit System
Chevrolet Cruze Diesel Dimensions
- Overall length x width x height: 4597mm X 1788mm X 1477mm
- Wheelbase: 2685mm
- Ground clearance: 165mm
- Boot Volume: 460 liters, 1030 liters (with rear seats folded)
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 60 litres
- Kerb Weight: 1520kgs