Chevrolet Cruze: car review
A roomy and economical estate car that’s great value and handles well.
What is it?
The Cruze Station Wagon follows the Cruze Saloon and Hatchback. It was specifically designed with European wants and styles in mind. The result is a roomy budget estate car with excellent handling and fuel economy.
Would it help me stay safe?
There are six airbags. The Cruze’s rigid body structure, welded tubular section members in the doors, door beams made of ultra-high strength steel, and strong cross suspension members at the rear provide all-round protection. The front and rear crush zones, have been engineered to collapse in a controlled fashion, and a collapsible pedal assembly reduces the risk of injuries to the driver’s legs and feet during moderate-to-severe impacts.
Who should buy it and how much does it cost?
Anyone who has practical space needs yet also appreciates a sporty drive; it’s good value and the Chevrolet name will rise in time with increased popularity and now its association with Manchester United Football Club.
Our review: Good Motoring, Winter 2012
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
When offered a driving day with the new Chevrolet Cruze Estate, or “Station Wagon” as the American company asks us to call it, to be honest, we were apprehensive about the driving performance. Traditionally, North Americans have always preferred soft suspensions which make accurate and enjoyable motoring impossible. If you’ve ever been in a New York taxi, for example, you’ll be familiar with being slewed round corners, as if you were on a huge sofa with wheels.
However, this Chevrolet has been specifically designed for European tastes. We have more sharp bends, twisty country roads, and yes, demanding hills too. So, we were relieved to find that the Chevvy Cruze Station Wagon satisfies the needs of the UK driver very well; the Cruze uses the same underpinnings of Chevolet’s famed touring car, and it’s certainly a responsive drive – the steering is very accurate. That’s not to say that it’s too sensitive; we mean that you have confidence to make slight steering movements, and the car will respond quickly. So, the feel of the drive is not like any typical “American” car at all; if you’ve enjoyed the sharp handling of a Golf or Focus, you’ll get a similar experience on the Cruze even though it’s bigger.
So what about the power under the hood…er.. sorry, bonnet? Going up the demanding Derbyshire hills on our test route for Good Motoring, we felt the 1.6-litre petrol engine very sluggish and that was even without a heavy family and luggage. Driving the 1.7-litre diesel version of the Cruze on similar roads later was a revelation; if you need a serious load-lugger, you need a serious engine. On the test diesel we tried, there were six gears as well, sensibly spaced to be useful in climbing or when carrying heavy weight.
If you’re going to be using this “station wagon” the way most of us use (and – dare I say – sometimes abuse) our cars, then our recommendation would be to choose the diesel engine every time.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
With more space than a Focus estate, yet less than an Octavia, the Cruze Station Wagon is fine for the family holiday or for filling up with rubbish for the tip. Rear passengers will, however, forever be asking for the front people to move their seats forward. It’s a shame that the rear seat doesn’t slide back when luggage space isn’t needed to give more room to rear seat passengers, but after a look at the rear storage area it’s clear why they designed it this way. There are many configurations of storage compartments, lift-out panels and underfloor cubby holes, so a sliding back rear seat would have been impossible. The luggage compartment cover retracts fully into a cassette if bulkier cargo needs to be accommodated. The cassette itself can be removed if necessary.
The large centre console is really well designed and lights up with a cool electric blue glow; and don’t worry, coffee lovers, there are cup holders for all.
The safety elements of the Cruze Station Wagon are nearly identical to that designed for the saloon – a car that has earned a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP. Six airbags, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, as well as four-channel anti-lock brakes are all offered as standard. Five three-point seatbelts, ISOFIX anchoring system on the two rear outboard positions and a collapsible pedal assembly are also part of the Cruze’s standard safety package.
Backed by a five-year warranty at retail, all Cruze Station Wagons have
air-con, electric front windows, and “follow-me-home” headlights. Mid-spec LT models add more features including 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, and rear parking sensors. LTZ models add climate control and a rear parking camera. There are also “Shift Up” and “Shift Down” prompt lights to make sure you drive economically, and warnings should you leave your indicators on.
With uncertain residual values, it’s good advice to choose your ideal Cruze and keep it at least three years; if you sell it earlier, you may well be disappointed at the trade-in value. But don’t worry about actual buyers; the compact estate market is becoming increasingly important as buyers look to downsize without compromising on space and practicality. We say choose the new 1.7-litre VCDi diesel – it is the most fuel efficient engine ever in the Cruze range, offering 62.7mpg.
An economical and good-looking estate that’s definitely worth a test drive.
AT A GLANCE:
Price: from £15,375
Performance: 0-60mph in 10 seconds
Economy: 62.7mpg combined
Insurance: to be announced
Tax: to be announced
Figures for the 1.7-litre diesel.