The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Chevrolet Cruze provides great value for money. With its low price and high equipment level it beats many of its similarly sized rivals.
Reasons to buy:
- High level of kit as standard
- Impressive interior
- Low running costs and excellent warranty
How good does it look?
The Cruze is the first Chevrolet to wear its ‘dual-port’ grille, which houses the iconic gold bow tie badge. It’s a bold alternative to the sleek design of most of its European rivals, and unlike most of its peers in Britain, it’s a four-door saloon. And that helps the Cruze stand out in the car park.
What's the interior like?
Despite the Cruze’s budget nature, the interior looks very upmarket, bringing to mind the Vauxhall Insignia with its centre console. There’s a Corvette influence with a feel of an aircraft cockpit. The fabric panels which stretch from the doors and across the front of the dash are a nice, and unusual, touch and the chrome-rimmed dials emit a blue glow.
How practical is it?
The Chevrolet Cruze looks a lot bigger than it is, due to its saloon car bodystyle. At 450 litres, its boot is a useful size but saloons are rarely as practical as hatchbacks due to a restricted loading area. The rear seats fold, and there’s a reasonable amount of storage spaces dotted around the cabin.
What's it like to drive?
Chevrolet have chosen ride quality over handling dynamics in the Cruze, which means it is very smooth and quiet over most surfaces. There’s very little wind noise on the move and the diesel engine is quiet at a steady speed. It lacks the sharp steering we’ve come to expect from this class of car – the Cruze has little feedback and too much play in the steering. Body roll is well contained however.
How powerful is it?
The Chevy Cruze is offered with a choice of four engines, split equally between petrol and diesel. Petrol choices are a 111bhp 1.6 and a 139bhp 1.8 which will reach 62mph in 12.5 and 10 seconds respectively, while top speeds are 115 and 124mph. We tested the more gutsy of the two diesels, which are both variations on the same 2-litre unit. The 125bhp engine will max out at 122mph and reach 62mph in 10.3 seconds, while the 150bhp we tested will hit 62mph in 8.7 seconds and a top speed of 130mph. The 150bhp diesel is a strong performer at motorway speeds, but we found frequent gear changes were required to get the best from it.
How much will it cost me?
Without doubt, the Cruze’s trump card is its purchase price. There are few cars of similar size that can touch it, particularly considering the equipment levels. Both petrol engines clock an official average of 41.5mpg, while the 125bhp and 150bhp diesels record 51.4mpg and 50.4mpg respectively. The petrols both emit 159g/km of CO2, while the 125bhp and 150bhp diesels produce 145 and 149g/km. Expect heavy depreciation from new – experts claim the Cruze will retain around a third of its value after three years/36,000 miles. That will make it a bargain used purchase, however.
How reliable is it?
Various mechanicals are used in other cars in the GM stable so should give few causes for concern. The cabin seems to be constructed from durable materials.
How safe is it?
The Chevrolet Cruze hasn’t been put through the Euro NCAP crash test programme but all models feature Electronic Stability Programming, electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control and ABS. Driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags are also standard across the range, as is a collapsible pedal box to protect the driver’s feet in a crash. That said, if you want a safe compact saloon, consider the Volvo S40.
How much equipment do I get?
All models are exceptionally well equipped considering the asking price. The base S model features air-con, remote central locking, ‘follow-me-home’ lighting, electric front windows and a fully-adjustable drivers’ seat. The LS model is expected to be the best seller, and features chrome and body-coloured trimmings, trip computer, all-round electric windows, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and rear park sensors. An automatic gearbox is an additional £1,100. The LT adds cruise control, climate control, rain-sensing wipers, 6-CD changer and 17-inch alloy wheels. The sat-nav fitted to our test car is a £750 option – half the price of most rivals’ systems.
The Chevrolet Cruze saloon demonstrates that budget motoring doesn’t need to be at the sacrifice of equipment or comfort. But while its value-for-money appeal is very evident, so are its dynamic shortcomings.