Once the reigning champ of the sub D-Segment sedans in India, the Chevrolet Cruze’s isn’t as popular as it once was of late. The Cruze, launched way back in 2009, though still rather unchallenged in value terms, doesn’t attract the buyers as well as it once did. The new influx of premium crossovers isn’t helping its cause either. With the new 2016 Cruze Chevrolet India has added a bunch of goodies to make the Cruze a fantastic value for money offering. Let’s see if the current generation Cruze is good enough to claw back to its perch.
There is nothing wrong with the way the Cruze looked, and the only missing ingredient was chrome. In India, if you’re in the mass market car manufacturing business, one of the many things that assure success is a chrome filled appearance.
Changes to the exteriors are limited to the front fascia and front bumper. The new fascia is characterized by the new, dual-port chrome grille, while the resculpted front bumper gets new LED DRL strips above the fog lamps.
Apart from these new five-spoke wheels, which sport a twin-spoke design, there are no changes to the exteriors of the updated Cruze. The next generation Cruze is already out, and is a bit of a looker. You might want to check it out here
Inside, the Cruze isn’t a bad place to be in at all. You sit nice and low, with the well bolstered seats grabbing your bottom like a clingy girlfriend. But the occupants at the back are in a wee bit of discomfort, as the Cruze’s sloping roof-line robs them a bit of their heads; which has already been a perennial problem with this car. The steering wheel is a bit large by today’s standards, but feels nice to hold once gotten used to.
Nothing much has changed, apart from a new infotainment system. We’ll come back to that later, but what was already there still looks and feels pretty good. The waterfall-style center console with its aluminum finish retains its class, while the beige inserts on the dashboard still hold its own. Instrumentation, with its twin pod setup with a blue background is still good to behold.
The array of buttons between the HVAC vents do tend to look a bit dated in this era of minimized design, but we’ll take it. The new MyLink infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen features a ‘text to speech’ functionality, USB connectivity, as well as Bluetooth audio streaming. Though resolution and touch sensitivity are fine, the touch screen is recessed inside, making it an ergonomic disaster.
Reaching for the menus at the bottom of the screen is a chore, as it is quite deep set in the dashboard. It’s a case of reverse engineering gone wrong, as the original dashboard was never designed to accommodate a touch-screen. Accessing the infotainment system via the buttons actually makes more sense, especially when driving, as reaching to touch that screen on the move might prove to be fatal.
That said, the screen shows vibrant colors, and the system in general is quite quick to respond. The screen also doubles up as a display for showing feed from the reverse parking camera – another new feature in the updated Cruze.
With 380 Nm of pulling force at your tap from the 2.0-litre diesel engine, the Cruze is still the torque monster that it is revered for. For one’s reference, the Tata Safari Storme’s 2.2-litre, DICOR diesel engine makes do with ‘only’ 320 Nm; a figure shared with the Audi A4 2.0 TDi as well. Once the transmission hooks up, the locomotive like pull is quite exhilarating to be honest. The well bolstered seats that generally cosset you now get themselves pasted with your girth; 164 bhp helps too.
The 6-speed automatic transmission is pretty good too. It barely gets confused and works smoothly in conjunction with the throttle inputs. Keep the accelerator pedal floored and the transmission up shifts at 3,900 rpm. By that time, you’d have gained considerable velocity to have fellow passengers pinned to their seats. Conveniently, the transmission masks some of the turbo lag, as it always keeps the engine spinning in the meat of its power band.
There’s also a manual mode (Tiptronic; torque converter), in case you need maximum grunt in situations, but with so much usable torque at hand, it’s services will be barely called for. Even in thick traffic, the automatic transmission makes use of the engine’s brawn in an efficient and smooth manner. NVH levels aren’t the highest, with a fair amount of diesel clatter filtering inside the cabin, even at idle. Wind and road noise are fairly contained though.
Given its age, the Cruze rides well, and there’s no cause for complains here. Even the handling is predictable and friendly, but the steering feel is devoid of life. Long, sweeping turns at a good pace is what the Cruze excels at, apart from of course, relaxed cruising at lower triple digit speeds.
With prices starting at INR 13.95 lakh (ex-showroom, New Delhi), the Chevrolet Cruze is a fair amount of car for the money, though it doesn’t come across as the most modern car around. Its neck-snapping acceleration, good looks, great gearbox still make it a good piece of kit. The face-lift with the added features adds more value to the package, and pound-for-pound, you really cannot get so much value for your money in the segment. Negatives include a lack of space at the backseat. From an image, power and luxury perspective, though, the Cruze delivers value in spades. If big space isn’t something on the top of your checklist, do take this one out for a spin before making your decision.