Contrary to the ongoing trend of facelifts involving mere cosmetic changes; new version of Chevrolet Cruze comes with thoroughly retuned oil-burner that has helped the performance level of this D-segment contender to reach a new high. From outside new Cruze 2012looks same as of outgoing model though performance has taken a quantum leap thanks to a powerful dose of steroid that Chevrolet injected in heart veins of Cruze. Under the hood of Cruze 2012now lies a radicallypowerful diesel engine that is capable to put out 166 PS of power and gut wrenching torque to the tune of 380 Nm. These figures are large enough to send shivers down one’s spine and this is exactly what we felt as we settled behind the wheel of new facelift Chevrolet Cruze. Right from the start we knew that new Cruze 2012 was sure to plaster a big smile on your face with its highway performance but what about the city driving which in fact make up large portion of our total travel. Can the new Cruze be able to finally overcome the challenge of poor drivability something that its predecessor had been criticized heavily for. We find out in this road test of new Cruze 2012.
STYLE & SUBSTANCE
New Cruze is identical to its outgoing model on both outside and inside. Overall design is full of dynamism with sharp and sleek cuts dominating the design philosophy. Cruze sits lower than its rivals, has dynamic profile and broad shoulders which add to the masculinity aspect of the car. Coupe-ish profile takes the overall design element to a new high while tight skinning ensures that everything wind up in its place. Front fascia is made up of two-part signature grill of Chevrolet with its logo sitting right at the middle. Head lamps are curvy, sharp and wrap around to some extent. Windscreens both at front and rear, are steeply raked and could affect the practicality of the car especially in bumper-to-bumper traffic situation.
Side profile contains sharp creases in form of window line and shoulder line; sloping aggressively upwards running all the way to the rear. Coupe-ish like profile, though sure to eat up some space at back, endows the Cruze with gives strikingly differentiating feature.
Rear part of the car, unlike many other saloons, is very wide and exactly in same proportion as the front part is. Thick chrome strip helps the Cruze to get up market look while split design of tail lamps looks very classy. Golden bowtie of Chevrolet sits just above the strip is very elegant touch aimed to increase the sophistication of design scheme.
INTERIORS, ROOM & ERGONOMICS
One important differentiator between the interiors of old and new Cruze is availability of electronic adjustment of driver seat. This convenience is sure to woo the customers and in fact is becoming more a necessity than luxury especially in high end segment in which Cruze competes. Chevrolet Cruze comes with classy interiors which are in fact very necessary when you are going to compete in executive sedan segment. Opening of doors doesn’t require you to operate with the key as long as you are in the 2m proximity of the car. Inside ambience greets you with whole leather upholstery and very neatly placed dash board. Though two tone color of dash though look quite dull and dark shade would have suited well to the overall scheme of interiors.
3-spoke steering wheel is very meaty and chunky to hold. It also comes with the reach and rake adjustments. Convenience is enhanced by the inclusion of controls on the wheel. Hooded Instrument cluster is spectacular to look at; especially when lit though visibility could have been better.Centre console has the controls for music system as well as HVAC. Design and material quality is decent but certainly not the best. Controls are intuitive and Auto AC works brilliantly. There are lot of storage space in the cabin in form of bottle holders and cubbyholes.
Front seats are large though you sit very low in comparison to other cars. This could be problem if you are habitual of sitting in very upright position. That said, seats are wonderfully supported and bolstered; even at sides. These hugs you very firmly and there are no let-up even in case of spirited driving. Rear bench also sits low but support here too is good. Unfortunately the various kinds of space are not available in magnitude we would have liked. There is excuse for shorter headroom because of inclusion of coupe profile but we won’t be able to find any logical explanation for poor leg room and knee room. Cruze, at its best, is mediocre scorer on space proposition and this might be one of the crucial reasons as most of the buyers are chauffeur-driven in this segment.
Cruze is now powered by 1998 cc(7cc more than older version), 4-cylinder transversally mounted diesel engine. Second change that has got its place is provision of double overhead cam with mounting of 16 valves for breathing exercise. This directly translated to the better breathing ability which in turn affects positively to the drivability at low end as well as top end. Power rating has been up from 150 PS to 166 PS while massive augmentation in torque has been achieved as figures now stands at 380 Nm against 327 Nm of previous model.
Though we never ever apprehended about the mid-range of this ballistic missile, we felt the older version was not very drivable in its low rpm range. There was a considerable turbo lag that spoils the fun of city driving of Cruze and in fact company has actually done a brilliant job as new Cruze has now totally come over this demerit. New Cruze offers excellent drivability with almost no turbo lag. There are sharp responses to part throttle and you need not to change the gears all the time to move comfortably in city. Ambling around in city now becomes like a child play and you won’t feel any hesitation whatsoever be the rpm engine is operating in.
To optimize the use of increased performance figures, engine is now mated with 6-speed manual transmission. Gear ratios have been matched perfectly and additional gear is sure to give an extra pair of legs to the Cruze especially on the highway. Gear lever is quite short and shifts are smooth, precise and very direct. Also clutch operation is light and it feels progressive in operation.
Cruze uses McPherson struts up front and compound crank type coil spring at rear to suspend the wheels. 16” alloy wheels are shrouded with 205 mm wide rubber while aspect ratio stands at 60. With stiffed suspension setting, Cruze ride is somewhat jittery in nature. The jerks filter inside the cabin though things improve at the whack increases. Cruze feels more comfortable at high speeds as ride become more settled. High speed is where car feels at home and shows absolute stunning composure.
Handling of the Cruze has improved over the older version but still is not in the league of benchmark. Lengthy dimensions and square-ish rear may be reason behind this average performance though suspension has given its full support to favor the handling characteristic. Still you need to take caution while changing lanes unexpectedly.
In contrast to old variant you need to spend Rs. 30 k more as LTZ model now costs 14.47 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). But then looking at the massive improvement in performance the Cruze has been able to achieve this price increase is minimal. New Cruze now not only drives much better especially in city than older one but also is more economical as far as running cost is concerned. With claimed mileage of 17.3 km/l, car is expected to give at least two digit mileage on the highway giving it some advantage over its rivals on efficiency front. New Cruze delivers stunning performance in a very authentic style and is sure to rake in decent sales number for Chevrolet. And believe us this car has all the potential to do this.
Style & Substance 4/5 Ride & Handling 3.5/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3.5/5 Safety & Equipment 4/5
Power& Transmission 4/5 Fuel Efficiency 3/5
Value for Money 3/5