I haven’t driven a Chevy for many years, so I was keen to get my hands on the keys to one of the new generation GM offerings in the form of the latest Chevrolet Cruze – in this instance, the 1.4 T LS sedan.
The initial impression of the Cruze is that it’s an attractive, mid-sized four door machine with a refreshingly different look. There’s no mistaking the gold bowtie on the split front grille, and combined with the large, angular headlights the Cruze manages to avoid the generic look of so many middle market sedans.
The redesigned rear view is equally appealing, with the sloping roof line flowing neatly into a moulded boot lid and rear bumper. The car sits on attractive 16” alloy rims.
Open the driver’s door and you will find a spacious interior, with practical black cloth seats, black trim and decent finishes – not ultra-luxurious, but no sign of tacky, cheap plastic bits either. The seats are comfortable and supportive, and with a four way adjustable driver’s seat I found it easy to set up my ideal driving position. I did miss having a foot rest, especially with an auto ‘box.
Rear passenger leg room is good, although very tall passengers might find access and head room a little tight, due to the sloping roof and rear door entry. Boot space is plentiful, with 469 litres on tap plus the option of dropping the split rear seats if you need more space. Access to the boot is easy, with the boot lid opening right down to the rear bumper. I was happy to discover the Cruze has a full size spare wheel – a rarity these days and a huge plus in my opinion.
Air conditioning is standard, although climate control is optional. The Cruze is generally well equipped, with electric windows all round, cruise control, steering wheel controls and Chevrolet’s MyLink touch screen infotainment system all standard features. I did find the screen a little tricky to use, as it’s set quite deep in the dash and a firm touch is required to register the desired input. Auto headlights would have been a handy addition, but the LED daytime running lights are great and effective.
The Cruze on test was powered by a 1.4 litre turbocharged petrol engine, making 103kW and 200 Nm of torque. My week of Cruzing covered a pretty average range of urban driving conditions, in traffic, general commuting and highway pedalling. Coupled to a six speed auto transmission, I found the motor tractable and quiet, perfectly capable of getting the car from A to B with a minimum of effort and irritation.
This car encourages smooth driving and is at its best when driven with a light foot, rather than a stomp on the loud pedal. The motor performs well when driven accordingly and delivers sufficient acceleration for any sensible overtaking manoeuvres. Claimed fuel consumption for the urban cycle is 9l/100km and I averaged between 8.5 and 10l/100km.
One of the Cruze’s greatest strengths is its comfortable ride. It floats disdainfully over speed humps and assorted irregularities in the road, and although the trade-off is a little more body roll and wallowing in hard cornering, who cares? This car’s forte is commuting or toting families around in style, safety and comfort – it’s doesn’t pretend to be a track day hero.
All the necessary safety kit is standard, including ABS, EBD, ESP, traction control and driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags, and it has disc brakes all round. The Cruze carries a five star Euro NCap rating, as well as the US equivalent.
List price for the Cruze 1.4T LS auto is R277,900.00. Although there is plenty of competition from both sedans and smaller SUVs around this price range, the Cruze is an ideal commuter or family car which will take longer trips in its stride. I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed my time with the Cruze – it has a distinctive Chevy persona and seduces with its comfortable ride. Definitely worth a test drive if comfort, space and stress free driving are high on your list of criteria!
The Cruze comes with a 5 year / 120,000 km warranty and road assistance package and a 3 year / 60,000 km Service Plan.
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