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Review: Chevrolet Cruze 2.0 LTZ

Driven October 2012

Review: Chevrolet Cruze 2.0 LTZ

Take a magnifying glass and look at the picture above. You'll see no difference between this update and the older Cruze. Because there is no difference. But one thing is guaranteed – if you loved the old car, there’s no reason why you won’t like this new one. And wait, there’s a lot more to this Cruze than meets the eye.

Thankfully, Chevrolet has resisted the temptation to add chrome strips or paint the interior in different shades of beige and call it fancy names. This is a good example of what American carmakers do best – shove extra power into the hood of an already powerful sedan. The only difference is, unlike the Americans, who love their V8s, we love our in-line-4 diesels. And with petrol prices going the way they are, Chevy's not bothered with a petrol engine either.

Mercifully, in an increasingly sterile world, the Cruze retains enough of its aggression to stand out of the crowd. The styling stays exactly the same, with those aggressive headlamps and big 300 grille. We’d have preferred LED lighting at the back and projector headlamps upfront.

Inside is an all-black interior and a sci-fi centre console befitting an aircraft cockpit. The information display sits well in your field of vision. The monochromatic display looks nice, and supplies data without any unnecessary graphics to distract the driver.

The dash design is impressive and the plastics feel nice; sadly, the same can’t be said about the plastics on the doors. Included standard are a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and rain-sensing wipers. The eccentricities include a Bluetooth system that’ll play music off your phone but can’t be used to make calls. Ditto the audio reverse parking sensors, which beep as you back up but won’t give you any visual representation.

The other grouse is the start/stop button. Unlike the big circular red button that stands out nicely enough in other cars, this one is an inconspicuous black switch hiding in a corner. Another  thing chauffeur-driven owners won't like is the cramped rear seat.

At idling, the engine doesn’t feel as quiet as its German rivals and some noise creeps in even with the doors shut. Not that it should bother anyone in Indian traffic, with motorists outdoing each other on their right to honk. Once on the move though, the noise, vibration and harshness drop to minimal.

With 148 horses on tap, the old Cruze could always boast about being the most powerful car in its segment. Now, with an engine upgrade, it just got better. The 2.0-litre block has had reinforcements added to cope with the extra power.

The Cruze now makes 164bhp and a whopping 380Nm. To put that in perspective, Audi’s 2.8-litre six-cylinder petrol engine makes 280Nm at 3000rpm.The Cruze’s 2.0 litre in-line four diesel makes 380Nm at 2000rpm. Sure, the Cruze won’t outrun any Audi anytime soon, but it’s always nice to be able to go up to an Audi and say, “My torque curve is bigger than yours”.

All that power goes to the front-wheels via a six-speed manual. Unlike the older car on which you got a sudden surge of power after 2000rpm, the new Cruze gives you more linear power delivery. And its taller gear ratios mean you can putter around town without changing often.

The tranny is smooth and we love the short, sporty throw. But the clutch feels really heavy – which is a pain in stop-and-go traffic. Of course, the extra gear helps economy. Our test car returned 13.6kpl on the highway and 11.8 in the city. Which is impressive given that the Cruze does 0-100kph in 9.6secs and cruise effortlessly at 140kph.

At high speeds, it feels stable and the suspension swallows most bumps without fuss. The steering returns enough feedback but the 16-inch tyres don’t do justice to the Cruze’s output.

The new Cruze is not everyone’s cup of tea. People buying a car in this segment will look for luxury bits like beige and wood. They’ll typically be chauffeured, so handling and power will not be their top priorities. But if you’re looking for serious performance and a decent feature list in this segment, this is the car to have.

The numbers
4cyl, 1998cc, 164bhp, 380Nm, 6M, 0-100kph in 9.83s, 30-50kph in 4.40s, 50-70kph in 7.36s, 80-0kph in 2.53s; 28.42m,12.7kpl; Rs 15.49 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai)

The verdict
More power, a sixth gear and well-equipped. So you won't get one because...?

Abhinav Mishra

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