The D-segment is a low-volume segment, but despite that, the competition is fierce. We look at what’s one of the most relevant cars, which also happens to have survived for a very long time without a huge update, the Chevrolet Cruze. To start with, it’s still the most powerful sedan in the segment, and with a mild facelift, it looks fresh, too.
The changes on the vehicle include a slightly redesigned fascia, and the inclusion of a boot spoiler and MyLink touchscreen infotainment system. Powering the car is still the 2-liter Z-Series diesel unit that makes 167 PS and 380 Nm of torque. While the manual gearbox is expected to be retained in the lesser variants, the top-spec car still gets a 6-speed automatic unit.
How’s it to drive?
Given its credentials, the Cruze can easily be one of the few driver oriented options in the segment. It feels well planted on the move, and although it’s long, driving it in the city isn’t a problem. The steering is light enough for that, but stays stable at high speeds, too. The gearbox in ‘D’ mode is adequately quick, but the manual mode is better suited if you want to be in control. That said, the vehicle doesn’t upshift in manual mode, so that’s something that must be kept in mind. But even in the ‘D’ mode, the vehicle is a potential getaway machine.
The primary reason people have started to opt for SUVs in the segment is that they can tackle bad roads and remain stable while doing triple digit speeds. Let’s talk about the latter first. The Cruze is made for the highway in that regard. Both the diesel engine and the chassis setup help it maintain decent speeds in straight line and its composure while cornering.
How’s the ride and handling?
Apart from the stability, the Cruze manages to offer a very good ride, too. There’s a fair bit of body roll but if you’re looking for something more engaging that way, the Octavia still feels superior. The Cruze also doesn’t feel as lively.
Driving in the city is trouble free, since neither is there a lack of grunt nor is the vehicle too heavy. The gearbox works well at city speeds, and as far as fuel economy goes, the trip computer in our short rendezvous showed about 9 kmpl.
How’s the cabin?
While Chevrolet has been clear with emphasis on driving rather than being driven in, with the Cruze, but it offers good comfort at the rear, too. Sadly there are no AC vents at the rear.
The height adjustable driver’s seat and the adjustable steering (both for reach and rake) are a boon. The interior looks nice thanks to the brushed aluminium on the centre console, but plastics don’t feel the best. Seats are comfortable and the view all around is good, too. You are unlikely to feel claustrophobic inside the cabin, but in case you do, Chevrolet also offers a sunroof, too. Storage inside isn’t a problem, and the boot is flat and big – perfect for big bags and suitcases.
With the 2017 Cruze hopefully around the corner (yet to be launched in markets abroad), it remains to be seen how the market (knowing that a lighter, newer design Cruze is coming maybe in a year or two) responds to the facelift.
The muscular styling is still as appealing as it was back in the day. And unless you are looking for a sleeker or more stylish (or maybe younger) car, the Cruze makes perfect sense. Talking of age, the MyLink system doesn’t feel new-age, either. The touchscreen isn’t the most sensitive, and the interface is boring. Also, there’s no navigation functionality inbuilt, which is a shame.
Should you buy it?
Considering Chevrolet prices it close to the pre-facelift/current car, expect to pay about Rs 17 lakh for the Cruze (ex-showroom pricing). In comparison, the automatic gearbox version of diesel Octavia starts at Rs 19.19 lakh and the Jetta at Rs 20.18 lakh. There are no diesel automatics available on either the Corolla Altis or the Fluence. Looking outside the segment, and the XUV500 in the same configuration starts at Rs 15.33 lakh, while the fully loaded XUV is priced at Rs 17.37 lakh.
In comparison to that, the Cruze doesn’t feel about Rs 2 lakh cheaper than the Octavia, but it does feel a lakh more expensive than the XUV. And all that means, it’s still very much relevant. The question is whether the slight facelift is good enough to remind one that Chevrolet still sells one of the best cars in the segment.