Chevrolet Cruze road test

Sure, we know we are a bit with a road test of the Chevrolet Cruze – but we have started road tests of cars and bikes only recently, and better late than never, right? So here goes!

This time, what we have for you is the top-end manual variant of the car – the Chevrolet Cruze LTZ MT. We will get our grubby hands on the Cruze AT in a short while. Also expect road tests of the Ford Figo and the Volkswagen Polo soon. Update: Chevrolet Cruze AT road test and review

If you want to take a look at the Chevrolet Cruze road test photo gallery rightaway, scroll all the way down to the bottom. And in case you don’t, there are enough photos of the car throughout the story anyway!

Indian cars’ road tests – complete list of reviews by DWS AutoIndia

Chevrolet Cruze road test
Photo: Chevrolet Cruze at speed

Chevrolet Cruze: Looks and design

It is easy to be floored by the muscular good looks, wide stance and huge size and proportions of the Cruze – you can see that alright from the photos here. It is brawny alright – call it the Salman Khan of cars! The large headlights, wide family grill and sculpted bumper and wheel arches makes the Cruze look handsome.

Chevrolet Cruze road test
Photo: Beefy, muscular styling on the Cruze

The Cruze was introduced after the earlier mid-size sedans from General Motors, the Optra and the Optra Magnum, grew quite jaded. The segment was ruled by the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla – the first were bought by those who were enamoured of the space-age looks of the car, while the Corolla Altis catered to the ones who preferred the rear seat. Both were petrol-fueled, and into the market, GM has dropped a diesel machine.

Remember that the Chevrolet Cruze a world car – and it shows in the styling and design department. The Cruze reminds us somewhat of the BMW 3 series from the rear, with tail lights that look very like the pre-refresh Honda Civic’s.

Viewed from the side, the profile looks solid with the sculpted side blending with the sloping roodline – very coupe-ish. The rear could look better – we feel it is a mishmash of styles there.

The Cruze has oodles of style, and the alloys aren’t left out of the party and comes shod with large 16 inch alloys wrapped in tubeless 205/60 JK Vectra rubber. These are the largest in this segment. A bit of American design is evident in the front, while the rest has touches of European and Japanese design – but it all sort of holds together. You won’t have any complaints about its looks. Compared to its competitors, the Cruze definitely has more presence.

Interior features

Chevrolet Cruze road test
Photo: Chevrolet Cruze has the best cockpit in its class

Now let’s get into the Cruze – well, you won’t need keys. If they are in your pocket, you just have to pull the door handle and voila, the doors get unlocked. GM has introduced what they call ‘Passive Entry Passive Safety’ which takes care of that. The Chevy sedan comes with sensors on the door; so, as long as you have the keys in your pocket and within the range of the sensors the door will open when you pull on the handle. This can also be programmed for only the driver door, or all the 4 doors through a setting in the console. To unlock just get out of the car, and gently pull the door handle that’s it – your Cruze is locked and safe.

Once inside, you are welcomed by the large round dials of the speedo, and the RPM meter which have a dash of chrome on them. There are buttons all over, and at night due to the backlight on all of these, one would easily feel like he is in the cockpit of an aircraft.

Chevrolet Cruze road test
Photo: Chevrolet Cruze center console looks futuristic

The centre console of the Chevrolet Cruze LTZ top-end variant that we drove has an in-dash 6 CD changer and FM radio. Sound quality is very acceptable, and the CD player offers a very user friendly setup option thanks to the MID display. The climate control which works and easily got rid of the Mumbai heat.

The large steering wheel has cruise control and stereo controls too. Buttons on the wheel are chunky and have a solid feel to them.

Steering is adequately-sized with settings available for height and reach. The AC vents can be closed/shut individually when not needed. A MID LCD display with cool blue backlight sits on the top of the centre console which reads out the Radio station, CD Track, AC settings outside temperature etc.

The consoles are in Dark Pewter Titanium scheme as GM calls it. The quality of the plastics used in the dash is good enough, but could be better. The glove box is puny and can just about fit in the service booklet and few other documents.

Chevrolet Cruze road test
Photo: Nobody uses the sunroof? Little Diya here loves it!

The Sunroof is standard on the Chevrolet Cruze LTZ. The sunroof is renowned to be one of the features in India’s cars which nobody uses but everyone demands – but there are some who love it, as you can see in the photos! Readers would be remember that GM had introduced the sunroof phenomenon to India with the Chevrolet Optra many years back.

The Cruze’s front Seats are adequately supportive with settings for height adjustment. The leather cold be of better quality, however. In terms of space for the rear passengers, the Chevy Cruze offers enough leg room. The same can’t be said for the head-room, which is at a premium, thanks to the steeply raked rear glass and downward flowing roofline.

Chevrolet Cruze road test
The Cruze's rear seats are large and comfy with adequate legroom, but headroom is at a premium due to the sloping roof

There is no keyhole for the ignition – instead you get a rather neat start/stop button towards the left of the steering column on the dash. The last car with the push button start feature that we drove was the Nissan Teana – a Rs 32 lakhs car. A gentle push of this button, and if you have the clutch depressed, the 2.0 VCDi diesel engine comes to life. It is easily one of the most silent and smooth diesel engine that we have seen/heard. The in-cabin sound insulation is awesome and no vibrations or road noise is enters the cabin.

Chevrolet Cruze: Engine and performance

Chevrolet Cruze road test
Photo: Chevrolet Cruze 1991 cc diesel engine

The Cruze is powered by a 1991 cc CRDI four-cylinder engine that churns out a very healthy 150PS @ 4000 rpm and 330Nm of torque at 2600 rpm. This is the very same engine from the capable Chevrolet Captiva SUV, but its ECU is different here.

Engage first gear and release the clutch, depress the accelerator pedal and the Cruze shows you what it can do with those 1991 ccs. This car easily is the most powerful for this segment and one of the fastest too. Speed builds up rather quickly and before you realize you are doing 3 digits.

Everything is not perfect, however. During our road test of the Cruze, we found out a bit of a turbo lag in the 1st gear – but that is not very noticeable, and once you cross the 2000 RPM, power delivery is smooth. In city driving, though, the turbo lag is evident below the 1700 RPM. Chevrolet Cruze owners can, of course, take comfort in the good mid-range and top-end performance of the car, though.

The short-throw gear changer works rather nicely, and the gears engage and shift smoothly.

The engine is very responsive and once you get an nack of the power you really begin to relish this neat car. Overtaking is no big deal in the Cruze – downshift and accelerate and watch others grow small in your rear-view mirror. We managed to cruise in the Cruze with speeds of 170 kmph and the car felt as if it could do that all day.

Chevrolet Cruze: Ride and handling

The large wheels and and stiff suspension setup of the soaks up all the bumps, potholes and even a few speed breakers. The Cruze has independent McPherson struts up front and coil springs at the rear. Handling is good and you are reminded that this is a heavy car, the feedback is just right and not dead like some of the other cars from this segment feel. We missed the ESP which would be a big big factor for this powerful car while cornering and driving in a spirited manner.

Safety features

The Cruze is a feels like a very safe car and comes with ABS and two airbags. Braking is more than adequate, aided by the all-disc setup mounted on the large wheels along with ABS.

Fuel economy

And the obligatory question and answer about ‘mileage’ – Unlike its competitors, the Cruze is a diesel, which offers its own cost savings, and its figures impressed us with 13.5kmpl in the city and 17kmpl on the highway.

The Cruze has its fair amount of rivals with the VW Jetta, Honda Civic, Skoda Laura and Toyota Corolla Altis, but what works in its favour is the goodies that it comes with nearly cars 2 segments higher have, its super powerful engine and the unbeatable Free service plan that GM offers.The Cruze possess a lot of characteristics that make it a formidable model in this segment and we are sure seeing the sales number from GM off late it wont be long before the Cruze becomes the leader in this segment. This car drives well, handles perfectly, has loads of interior space as compared to cars in this segment and is priced very aggressively.

Things we liked

Chevrolet Cruze road test

Solid and muscular looks

Loaded with goodies

Total value for money at the price with the GM Service package included

Passive Entry Passive Safety, a first in this segment and very convenient

Unmatched power after the 2k RPM mark

Large tyres aiding the overall drive and handling

Robust, refined and very capable diesel engine

… and what we did not

Rear AC vent needed

Overall plastic quality

Very small glovebox

Turbo lag below 2000 RPM

No intgrated turn-lights on rear view mirrors

Chevrolet Cruze Specifications


Chevrolet Cruze road test

L.W.H: 4597mm, 1788mm, 1477mm
Wheelbase: 2685 mm
Ground Clearance: 165 mm

Diesel Engine

No.of Cylinders: 4
Displacement: 1991cc
Power (PS): 150@4000rpm
Torque (Nm): 327@2600rpm

Car Summary

Car Body Type: Sedan
Fuel Consumption: City- 13.5kmpl  and Highway- 17kmpl
Segment: D Segment
Warranty: 3 Year Or 100000 Km Warranty with GM Service plan
BHP  -150PS at 4k RPM
Seating Capacity: 5
Tyre Size: 205/60 R16
Suspension: McPherson Strut, Mini-Block Coil Spring
Boot Space: 450.00 ltrs.
Steering: Power
Brakes: All Disc
Gears: 5 Manual that we tested also available in 6speed Auto
Ground Clearance: 165.00 mm
Kerb Weight: 1520.00 kgs.
Fuel Tank: 60lts

Chevrolet Cruze road test photo gallery

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