Chevrolet Cruze since its launch has always been a competent car. Cruze from the beginning have given established brands like; Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla Altis a run for their money. Chevrolet Cruze’s success can be easily attributed to it being an all-rounder. It catered to the needs of all entry level luxury level car buyers. Performance seekers were thrilled by its peppy powerful engine, luxury seekers had all the features to pamper themselves and the economist had the benefit of a diesel under its hood. No wonder it caught fancy of Indian car buyers almost instantly. However, it seems Chevrolet was not happy with such a competent all-rounder and decided to add more horses under its hood. The New Cruze 2012 offers an additional 16 bhp and 53 Nm torque more than the old Cruze. Chevrolet probably wants to appropriate the car enthusiast niche through the new Cruze. We at ecardlr.com wanted to test this hypothesis and therefore decided to take this New Cruze on one of our road test to check whether the oil burner has true substance that lies beneath its intimidating posture:
EXTERIOR - LOOKS AND STYLE
Cruze Was always a head turner and the New Cruze 2012 lives quite admirably to this reputation. It however 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 of the New Cruze 2012 to a new high, while tight skinning ensures that everything stays in place.
Two part Chevrolet signature grill with Chevrolet bow-tie 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 of the New Cruze 2012 contains sharp creases in form of window and shoulder lines; 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 New Cruze 2012 with gives strikingly differentiating feature.
Rear part of the New Cruze 2012 car, unlike many other saloons, is very wide and exactly in same proportion as the front part. Thick chrome strip helps the New Cruze 2012 to get up-market look while split tail lamps design looks very classy. Golden bowtie of Chevrolet sits just above the strip adding elegance and sophistication to the design scheme of the New Cruze 2012.
INTERIORS - ROOM & ERGONOMICS
The New Chevrolet Cruze 2012 comes with classy interiors. Interiors which are designed to pamper the entry level luxury car buyer. The New Cruze 2012 takes convenience to a new level with its keyless entry feature, door opening is a matter of pressing the button on the door handle as long as one has the New Cruze 2012 car keys within a distance of 2 mtrs from the car. Push Button start is another up-market and convenience enhancing feature, just like the door the New Cruze 2012 can be cranked through the push of a button. Leather upholstery with a very neatly placed dash board are quite inviting, but we do wish that Chevrolet does away with the dull tow tone scheme of interior colours in favour of a darker shade.
3-spoke steering wheel of the New Cruze 2012 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 of the New Cruze 2012 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. Whilst there is an excuse for shorter headroom thanks to the coupe profile of the New Cruze 2012, but we were not able to find any logical explanation for poor leg room and knee room. New Cruze 2012, 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.
ENGINE - POWER-PLANT & TRANSMISSION
Not forgetting the fact that New Cruze 2012 power train delivers more power (16 BHP Vs Old Cruze) and torque (380 Nm Vs 327 of Old Cruze), it’s not in the area of performance that the New Cruze 2012 is superior to the old Cruze which was far more quicker off the block, but the New Cruze 2012 scores over the old Cruze in the area of refinement and linear power deliver with almost zero turbo lag.
The cars refinement is thanks to; a stronger newly designed cylinder head, chain driven DOHC Valve train, air intake manifold positioned closer to the cylinder, common rail system working at 1800 bar, dual mass flywheel which reduces vibrations.
The New Cruze 2012 with its bumped up specifications would have meant a far more spirited car, however, it’s not the dash where it’s better than the Old Cruze, it’s in the linearity of power delivery that the New Cruze 2012 is leagues ahead of its predecessor. The New Cruze 2012 engine feels more responsive and drive-able even at lower revs. Idle of the engine is impressive and it won’t sound like an ordinary oil burner. NVH levels are very well controlled.
Engine is mated with 6-speed manual transmission. Overall gearing in the New Cruze 2012 is far taller, except for the first 2 gears which are kept short to improve city driving. Lighter more progressive clutch also makes the New Cruze 2012 a very friendly city runabout.
New Cruze 2012 also comes with a Six speed Auto transmission in its LTZ variant and is meant for those seeking convenience of auto transmission with luxuries of a premium car.
RIDE & HANDLING - DYNAMIC ABLITIES
New Cruze 2012 uses McPherson struts up front and torsion beam at rear to suspend the wheels. 16” alloy wheels are shrouded with 205 mm wide rubber while aspect ratio stands at 60.
Being targeted at chauffeur driven segment, New Cruze 2012 chooses to go with the soft suspension set up. The suspension is softly sprung and tuned for compliance. This directly indicates the preference of ride quality over the handling characteristic. However at slow speed, even ride is somewhat jittery in nature. The jerks can be found inside the cabin though things improve as the whack increases. New Cruze 2012 feels more comfortable at high speeds. Even in case of hard braking, New Cruze 2012 feels very composed with very stable demeanor.
Handling, at its best, can be described as mediocre. New Cruze 2012 doesn’t like to be hustled around the corners and its large dimensions; especially wide rear is culprit for this meek response along with soft suspension set up. That said, it still can be considered as safe handler until and unless you corner it very hard.
With the launch of the New Cruze 2012 Chevrolet has taken a price hike over its earlier model, this hike along with recent almost 30K hike in car price has to some extent dampened the New Cruze 2012 value for money proposition. Whilst on performance the New Cruze 2012 has almost no real competition, it loses a lot in the comfort of space department to its closest rivals. We therefore feel that the new New Cruze 2012 may not set GM dealer counters full with orders, but it has all the potential of delivering steady numbers to their sales figures. Now, with Honda deciding to pull the plug on its Civic, New Cruze 2012 along with the Corolla will have an open run in a duopoly market.