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Chevrolet Cruze

£19,740£20,040
4/10
Overall verdict

For: 

It's cheap and it's got a big boot

Against: 

An Octavia is also cheap and has a bigger boot
Good luck, China, where most of these will be going. We have Skoda for our budget transport solutions.

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Our choice

Chevrolet

1.6 LS 4dr

£14,310
N/A
42mpg
12.50s
113bhp
159g/km

What we say: 

Chevy's saloon is monstrously cheap, admittedly, but it's monstrously cheaply made as well...

What is it?

Carrying a monstrous burden of responsibility for Chevrolet, the Cruze is a world car with a potentially enormous market to exploit in the Far East, where this sort of cheap four-door saloon has bags of appeal. The Cruze is built in countless countries, badged up as American and then shipped locally, with the most significant volumes likely to be making the short hop from South Korea to car-hungry China.


But don’t think any of this means it’ll be cutting corners. The Cruze shares its basic front-wheel drive GM chassis design with the Vauxhall Astra, a fine handling and riding C-segment car. So this could be a way of getting great engineering at a bargain price.

Driving

It’s not, though. Not really. The fine detailing that makes an Astra so accomplished is sorely lacking and the Cruze feels as cheap as it is when you get moving. It doesn’t ride that well, transmitting smaller and larger changes in the road surface through the cabin. The car feels fairly stable, but handling and grip are well below average these days, regardless of cost, and the vague, artificial steering quickly saps your confidence in the Cruze.


The engine choices aren’t great, either. Weak 1.6 and 1.8-litre petrols with just 113 or 130bhp on offer make for a tiring time at the wheel and gearbox, while the torquier diesels are too expensive fora car of this calibre.

On the inside

The Cruze provides a fairly decent driving position with enough adjustment for taller drivers to get quite comfortable, but the overall sense in here is that the cabin is quite narrow and headroom isn’t brilliant.


The cockpit is nicely styled, with a bravely forward-facing design theme, but there’s too much flash in relation to quality and the use of shiny cheap plastics around the fussy centre console isn’t going to strike a chord with many in the European market. On the upside, the Cruze has a whopping great boot for a car of this size and price, but the saloon access is restrictive.

Owning

The obvious hook here is that the Cruze is cheap, but it’s not so much cheaper than the immeasurably better Skoda Octavia, a car that is doing pretty much the exact same job on a more local scale. Resale values are also likely to be fairly atrocious for the Cruze, a budget motor with no track record on reliability and little real brand recognition.

Chevrolet is offering a ‘Five- Year Promise’ though, a package that covers warranty, servicing, breakdown and MOT costs. Generous, but are you really tempted?

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
1.7 VCDi LTZ 4dr [Nav]
9.6s 117g/km 62.7 130 £19,740
The cheapest
1.7 VCDi LTZ 4dr [Nav]
9.6s 117g/km 62.7 130 £19,740
The greenest
1.7 VCDi 110 LTZ 4dr [Nav]
12.2s 99g/km 76.3 110 £20,040

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

4/10

Chevrolet Cruze

£19,740£20,040
You could try having a look at the Cruze hatch. It's more expensive, but does get a more practical boot