General Motors India has launched the facelifted Chevrolet Cruze in October 2013 with prices starting at Rs 14.12 lakh for the base LT trim and going up to Rs 16.69 lakh for the top LTZ AT variant (ex-showroom, Kolkata). The Chevrolet Cruze is a formidable competitor in the D-segment with rivals like the Toyota Corolla Altis, Hyundai Elantra, Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Jetta battling it out for glory.
The refreshed Chevrolet Cruze is powered by the same 2.0-litre diesel motor which did duty on the outgoing model delivering the same power and torque output. General Motors India hasn’t really made too many changes on the refreshed Cruze barring a few external tweaks and has kept the mechanicals almost unaltered. We got behind the wheel of the Chevrolet Cruze LTZ (MT) to find out how it has fared. Read on to find out.
Design & Engineering
So what’s new in the refreshed Chevrolet Cruze? General Motors seems to firmly believe in the theory, ‘don’t fix it, if it isn’t broken’. Based on this philosophy, GM India has come out with the 2013 Chevrolet Cruze with minimal alterations.
The refreshed Chevrolet Cruze is 4597mm long, 1788mm wide and stands 1477mm high. In comparison, the Hyundai Elantra measures 4530mm in length, 1775mm in width and 1470mm in height, while the Toyota Corolla is 4540mm long, 1760mm wide and 1480mm tall. So the Chevrolet Cruze is slightly longer, wider and taller than its rivals. The Chevrolet Cruze boasts of a wheelbase measuring 2685mm compared to Toyota Corolla Altis’ 2600mm and Hyundai Elantra’s 2700mm.
Look at the updated Chevrolet Cruze from the front and you will notice the restyled front bumper with chrome surrounded black grille with the golden Chevy bowtie seating pretty smack in the centre. On both extreme ends are newly designed dual bezel headlamps and pronounced wheel arches with new 16-inch alloys wheels. Run along the side and you would find a clean design line stretching from above the front wheel arch and running right till the tail lamps. The rear is slightly boxy with the stylish tail lamp providing the much needed design relief. Overall the Chevrolet Cruze is a big, macho looking car which looks pretty solidly built and looks best when viewed head on.
The suspension set up in the refreshed Chevrolet Cruze comprises McPherson struts with linear cylindrical coil spring and stabilizer bar on the front with compound crank type with non-linear, mini-block spring at the rear. The suspension tuning is stiff providing stability and enhanced ride quality at high speeds with jitters being felt in the passenger compartment when driving over rough and broken roads even at lower speed limits. Disc brakes at both front and rear ensure confident inspiring and prompt braking.
The 2013 Chevrolet Cruze comes with external features like body coloured front and rear bumpers, body coloured ORVMs, chrome radiator front grille, chrome exhaust pipe finisher and new as standard across model range. The top-of-the-line Cruze LTZ that we tested additionally came with an electric sunroof, chrome door handles and trunk lid garnish.
Interiors & Comfort
The interior of the refreshed Chevrolet Cruze has pretty much remained unchanged from the outgoing model. It is done up in black and titanium wraparound theme and features a three spoke steering wheel with mounted audio controls, an integrated audio system with CD/MP3, radio, auxiliary input and USB connectivity, triple pod instrument cluster with blue illumination, tilt and telescopic steering as standard across model range.
The top LTZ (MT) that we tested additionally came with leather upholstery, leather steering and gear knob, rear accessory power socket, Bluetooth music steaming, cruise control on steering wheel, push start/stop button, rain sensitive wiper system and a 6-way power adjustable driver seat.
The Chevrolet Cruze boasts of a wheelbase measuring 2685mm compared to Toyota Corolla Altis’ 2600mm translating in spacious interiors. Both front and rear seats are comfortable and well cushioned offering good head, shoulder and leg room.
The quality of the integrated music system is quite impressive. The interior is stylish with a sleek looking centre console and easy to use knobs and controls. However, the quality of plastics used is not of a superior quality and feels quite rough and hard to feel and leaves room for improvement. With Cruze’s price tag, one would have desired a more premium quality interior.
Performance & Handling
The 2013 Chevrolet Cruze is powered by the same 2.0-litre diesel powerplant which did duty on the outgoing model. The engine displaces 1998 cc and is mated to 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. The diesel motor produces 166 PS of maximum power at 3800 rpm and 380 Nm of peak torque at 2000 rpm. The power and torque output too have been kept unchanged in comparison to the outgoing Cruze.
The Chevrolet Cruze definitely has the bigger and more powerful engine when compared to the Toyota Corolla Altis’ (1.4-litre diesel) and Hyndai Elantra (1.6-litre diesel). Although, two other cars which feature in the premium end of the D-segment namely the Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Jetta are also powered by a 2.0-litre diesel powerplant, however, Cruze still seems todelievr more power at 166 PS compared to Octavia’s 143PS and Jetta’s 140PS.
Statistics aside, the diesel engine doing duty in the Chevrolet Cruze isn’t very responsive at low rpm and one would notice considerable turbo lag till the 1000-1200 rpm mark. However, once the turbo kicks in, the Cruze suddenly transforms into a diesel rocket. While the surge of power is without doubt adrenaline pumping, however, the transition from the turbo lag to a sudden power delivery may not be particularly conducive while driving within the city. A more liner power delivery would have been much desired. Transmission was sleek with short throws and slotted in smoothly, although the 6-speed auto box is much better and results in better drivability.
The steering felt slightly heavy right from idle and weighed up further as we reached higher speed limits. While steering feedback was no doubt excellent, however, such heavy steering feel can easily tire divers especially during long journeys.
The Cruze remains stable and grounded at high speeds due to it being a heavier car weighing 1520 kilograms in comparison to the Toyota Corolla Altis which weighs 250 kilograms less (1270 kgs) and the Hyundai Elantra which is 220 kilograms lighter (1300 kgs).
The suspension is on the stiffer side and superior handling at high speeds. However, at lower speed limits, the stiffness is felt while traversing over uneven stretches and speed breakers with slight jitters being sent through to the passenger cabin. Body-roll is well contained with the car remaining poised at high speeds and while cornering.
The 2013 Chevrolet Cruze boasts of an ARAI ratified fuel efficiency of 17.3kmpl. Although we didn’t get an opportunity to perform a proper real world mileage test, however, our interaction with Chevy Cruze owners have revealed that the Cruze is capable of delivering around 12kmpl in city driving conditions with AC and about 14.5kmpl while cruising on the highway.
The refreshed Chevrolet Cruze comes equipped with safety features like ABS, dual front airbags, engine immobilizer, automatic door locking, anti-theft alarm and front fog lamps as standard across model range. The top-of-the-line Cruze LTZ that we tested also came with side airbags which is a new safety feature that has been added in the 2013 Cruze.
The Chevrolet Cruze has always been a winner in terms of having the bigger and more powerful engine in this segment. However, lack of liner power delivery, especially the turbo lag at low rpm continues to plague the Cruze. The suspension too is a bit stiff resulting in a slightly bumpy ride on uneven stretches of road.
A bigger issue is the quality of the interior, which although visually stylish and sleek, doesn’t feel premium enough for its price tag. Add to that Chevrolet’s brand value in India, and it won’t be able to hold its ground in front of Toyota and especially Hyundai in this country. In terms of aftersales network too, Chevrolet is no comparison to Hyundai raising yet another question in the minds of the buyer. Toyota Corolla Altis has a proven track record in terms of reliability not just in India, but across the globe.
To make matters worse, the Cruze is a diesel only model. Considering the speculation about the government’s plan to de-regularize the price of diesel, leading to an increase in diesel prices and demand for petrol vehicles, the Cruze will be in troubled water.
Having said all that, one cannot deny that at Rs 15.76 lakh for the LTZ (MT), the Cruze is a powerful and stylish car. So as a buyer, if power and style at a competitive price is what you were looking for, then the Cruze could be your ride.
By Joydip Sur