So we got a Chevrolet Cruze
The Chevrolet Cruze is yet another product that is part of General Motors’ competitively-revamped product line. With so much riding on it, we were hoping we had finally found something to topple the Honda Civic. Unfortunately, after our tests, the current Civic remains the “best” compact car of its time. However, the Korean-built Cruze is a much more palatable proposition, considering its base price undercuts that of the Civic by more than 25% in the UAE!
There are no doubts over the Cruze’s looks. It is very attractive for this segment, with its 17-inch wheels and pointy edges.
The front end is dominated by a massive black-plastic grille and angry headlights. No other compact car is angrier than the Cruze.
The rear holds no surprises, although it still manages to be one cohesive design overall. Our tester had four-wheel-disc brakes behind those alloys, flanked by wider rubber than any other car in the segment.
There is good headroom up front, although we’d like a wee bit more knee room for the driver. The leather seats are manually-adjusted in our mid-range model, but we liked the tilt-and-telescoping steering-wheel adjustment.
The front passenger would generally have enough legroom, but the big dealer-fitted fire-extinguisher takes up space. We urge General Motors to stop fitting these things in, of all places, the front footwell of every model. Even the Tahoe feels cramped because of this.
There is very good legroom in the rear, maybe almost as much as that in the class-leading Civic, and easily more than in the Focus. But that sloping roofline cuts down headroom, and tall people will definitely have issues. No centre armrest in this mid-range model, or even a fold-down bench. We hear they are optional. Check out that lap-belt for the centre passenger.
The dashboard looks absolutely stunning for a car in this segment, with its symmetrical metal-look centre stack and its colour-matched soft-touch lining. However, above and below the lighter trim are the darker hard plastics. Even the front doors have some colour-matched soft lining, elbow-rest padding and a whole lot of hard plastics. The rear doors don’t even get the padded armrests. We appreciated the cruise control, one-touch-down power windows and sunroof. Meanwhile, the automatic single-zone a/c and CD/MP3 stereo (with AUX port) are about average. Things like USB ports, push-button start, parking sensors and side-airbags were not in our car, but are thankfully available as options.
The cupholders are adjustable, as is that armrest over the cubby. And we definitely liked the proper handbrake.
Cargo space is excellent for a car of this size, but as mentioned earlier, a split-folding seatback is optional.
We really liked the car. But our six-month-old tester, with 7000 km on the clock, has faded plastic and rubber trim around the doors. We’re not sure if this is due to premature aging, but it could just be that someone wiped the black parts with regular wax.*
There are no real surprises in the packaging. You basically get what you pay for, whether standard or optional. While we cruised around for 4 days, what we really liked was the ride and handling, but that’ll be part of the full review.
*Tip: Never let regular body wax touch the unpainted plastics and rubber on your car. The black trim will turn grey.