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First drive: Chev's new Cruze range

2015-04-24 11:55

OUT OF THE BOX:

DAVE FALL

Chevrolet’s Cruze range in South Africa has had a facelift for 2015 while simultaneously being pared back and updated.

A closer look reveals the two-litre models have been pensioned-off’ to make way for an all-new 1.4 turbo LS (six-speed auto) – a sibling to the existing manual box offering – alongside four 1.6 units. The engines live in two good-looking hatch and four sedan bodies.

There is no diesel version.

LOADS OF KIT

Tim Hendon, Chevrolet brand manager at General Motors SA, reckons: “The 2015 Chevrolet Cruze is a tangible demonstration of our ‘Find New Roads’ vision which puts the customer at the forefront of everything we do through innovation, pioneering ideas and technology.”

Without doubt this family-friendly vehicle has certainly garnered a decent slice of the local market by offering a lot of kit as standard fare. There are now distinct exterior styling cues and updates, among them revised treatments to the nose and grille with new projector-style fog lights LED daytime running lights.

The sedan’s rump gets a new deck lid and tail-light design to, Chev says, “add great value and sophistication to the vehicles’ already well-received styling”. To complement the fresh tail and nose come new 16 and 17” alloy wheel designs – the 17” is optional on all LS models

GALLERY: 2015 Chevrolet Cruze

The much talked-about 1.4 turbo makes 103kW – equal, as we have pointed out before, to a 1970’s Ford three-litre V6! - and 200Nm of torque. Lively enough in the automatic version but the petrol heads among us will almost certainly prefer the six-speed manual gearbox.

Time constraints didn’t allow me to test drive a 1.6 version but nevertheless I can tell you there’s 86kW at 6200rpm and 155Nm of torque to keep the family man more than contented.

Fuel consumption data were not accurately ascertained either but the factory figures claim 7.6 litres/100km for the 1.4 (around town),  9.1 for the 1.6 derivative; 5.8/100km is claimed for the 1.4 and 6.7 over the “combined cycle” test.

JUST ONE GRUMBLE...

A 200km morning spent this week with the new Chev Cruze proved it to be roomy, quiet, powerful and apparently ultra-frugal. Worth mentioning is the smooth-riding suspension - an absolute pleasure after so many ‘new releases’ of late that, in my opinion, were simply not softly sprung enough for our largely undulating and pot-holed roads (the Western Cape a possible exception to this rule).

The one grumble I had was the placement of my left knee while driving – obviously accidentally – that would bump against the fan switch and send the rheostat into a flat spin. To be fair my driving partner didn’t have the same issue – but then he’s well over 1.8m tall and sits well back behind the wheel!

As mentioned earlier, specification levels are particularly strong in the Cruze: power steering, reach/height adjustable steering column, auto aircon, a 17.5cm touch screen with an intuitive Chevrolet MyLink Infotainment system*, four-way adjustable front seats, power windows all around, satellite controls on the steering wheel, cruise control, a front-loading CD/MP3/Aux/RDS sound system and really useful auto lights/wipers that really work.

SIX-SPEED MANUAL

There’s no longer any excuse for Chev Cruze drivers to make hand-held cellphone calls: the latest Bluetooth technology is standard across the board. There’s also a trip data computer.

The Cruze is definitely well named – this car is so easy to drive.

The six-speed manual gearbox has well-spaced ratios; the national 120km speed limit was easily reached while the rev counter revealed the 1.4 turbo motor is spinning at a lazy (and ultra-economical) 1700rpm.

There’s a lot of safety gear, too. Rigorous testing – European NCap rating and the American equivalent, the US. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, have each given the Cruze the maximum five stars – no mean feat in today’s world.

There are crash bags all around the cabin, four-channel anti-lock brakes on each wheel, electronic stability control and traction control – all vital to crash avoidance or mitigation.

MyLink is GM’s umbrella term for infotainment and consists of Bring Your Own Media (BYOM) found in the latest Cruze. Within can be found icon based menus much like an iPad, built-in voice recognition via your phone and a CD playback function.

RANGE AND PRICES

Hatch
Chevrolet Cruze 1.6 LS - R245 300
Chevrolet Cruze 1.4T LS - R265 200

Sedan
Chevrolet Cruze 1.6 - R230 400
Chevrolet Cruze 1.6 LS - R247 200
Chevrolet Cruze 1.4T LS - R262 500
Chevrolet Cruze 1.4T LS a/t - R272 400

Prices include a service plan covering three years or 60 000km to five years or 90 000km across the range. There’s also a warranty and roadside assistance for five years or 120 000km and an anti-corrosion warranty for five years (unlimited km).

More information on the new Cruze from General Motors SA


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