I’m a little worried about the spelling department over at GM. Who authorized Cruze over Cruise? But I’m not going to let it get me down, because this is a great little car. Well, actually, not so little…
Cruze is one of the bigger “compact” contenders, a segment that includes Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Ford Focus.
Not only is it way roomier inside than its predecessor (Chevrolet Cobalt), its demeanour is more like that of a larger and more upscale vessel.
All this became apparent moments after we drove off with this Cruze LTZ test vehicle. The top-shelf LTZ model lists for $24,780 and is packing all the goodies in the Cruze catalogue, such as sport suspension, remote starter, Bluetooth, On Star with “directions and connections,” USB port, 17-inch wheels and nine-speaker stereo.
But even the base LS ($14,995) has lots of standard kit: 6-speed manual transmission, stability and traction control, ABS, power windows and locks, and 10 air bags (but no a/c).
Only LS models feature the 136-hp 1.8-litre I4 engine. LT, LTZ and an upcoming super-efficient Eco model, feature a nifty and all-new turbo 1.4-litre I4, with variable valve timing and variable flow oil pump, producing 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. Unlike Ford, GM’s new turbo does not feature direct injection.
The two-tone leather seats hug your butt in good way, the leather-wrapped steering wheel is irresistible to fondle, and the burnished aluminum trim throughout the interior is easy on the eyes, a big console separates the two front seats to impart a “twin cockpit” theme.
And things are refined and quiet. The new electric speed-sensitive steering system has a “natural” feel, and combined with a taut chassis, the Cruze is, well, made for cruising.
The only dissenting thoughts are that the Cruze could have been a bit more visually arresting and given us a bit more back-seat knee room.
- Cruze may be brand new to North America, but it is a well-traveled citizen of the world.
- Currently sold in more than 60 countries, it is easily Chevrolet’s best-selling nameplate globally.
- It’s manufactured in the U.S., China, India, Russia, South Korea and Kazakhstan.
- The architecture (Delta II) under Cruze was developed by GM’s Korean arm, Daewoo, with refinement by its European arm, Opel.
- The Korean version of Cruze (called Lacetti) actually hit the streets back in 2009, while the European-market Cruze and its Opel equivalent (Astra) hit the streets in 2009.
- GM’s Australian division, Holden, is responsible for designing a future hatchback model.