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Cruze hatch: Now Chev's talking!

2011-11-12 06:39

Les Stephenson

DUBAI, UAE – The Chevrolet Cruze just made itself more distinguished with the launch of a hatchback version of the car at the 2011 Dubai international auto show.

The sedan version was launched worldwide – including SA - back in 2009 and more than a million have been sold. This its sleeker, sexier sister should reach SA during 2012 and bring a new lease on life for the range - Wheels24 took one for a drive in the UAE's supercity.

The new hatch has the same roofline and nose (see pictures) as the sedan but the tail treatment is much sportier with a built-in aerofoil, a deeper vertical surface and a much less-deep rear window. It’s more of a Cruze a family might want a luggage capacity of 413 litres; the sedan says “travelling salesman”.

Chev says the car will give all the versatility of a four-door hatchback without losing “any of the qualities associated with the award-winning Cruze sedan”. In fact, most of the car is identical to the current model.

"We believe the Cruze hatchback will provide us with a great opportunity to extend Chevrolet's presence in the compact segment," said Ahmed Soudodi, Chevrolet marketing manager for General Motors’ Middle East operations, under which South Africa falls.

"If you look at what we achieved with the sedan, Chevrolet's best-selling nameplate around the world in 2010, there's every reason to believe the hatch will also contribute significantly to Chevrolet's ongoing growth in the region.

EASILY RECOGNISED: Same grille, same headlights, in fact everything about the Chev Cruze's front section is the same as that of the sedan (inset).

The cars will be assembled in two trim levels, levels, LS and LT, with a 1.8-litre, quad-valve, fuel-injected petrol engine capable of about 105kW at 6200rpm, 176Nm at 3800rpm and average fuel consumption of 6.6 litres/100km. The current sedans in South Africa come with 1.6, 1.8 and a two-litre power – the 1.8 in the hatch is the same as that of the sedan.

The trim profile makes the Cruze hatch look smaller than the sedan but cabin space is still excellent.

I tried the car on the glitzy streets of downtown Dubai; odd to be driving a vehicle that in this milieu stands out for its “ordinariness” against the flash sports cars, stretched Mercs, Ferraris, monster 4x4 SUV’s and even the odd Veyron.

The unit was fitted with an auto gearbox, the same as the current model and still kind of thrashy when a dash of speed is required from the lights. The cabin is totally familiar and the structure of the Cruze hatchback is close to identical to that of the Cruze sedan, which achieved a five-star NCAP safety rating.

The car has anti-lock brakes with electronic fluid pressure distribution and four air bags.

HANDY STORAGE: Bottles between the seats and neat packaging for the parking brake lever and gearshift assembly on the Chevrolet Cruze hatchback.

Chevrolet says the main design cues that underscore the sportier appearance are the fast roofline, the slightly swept, concave shoulder line and the headlights with their pointed, arrow-like housings. The hatchback's sides slope inward when viewed in profile; a handsome rather than workaday car indeed.

Technology and comfort features include:

•    An AM/FM/CD system, MP3 playback functionality and radio digital signal; up to six speakers.
•    Infotainment display.
•    A USB jack in the centre console on the LT, for MP3 or iPod connectivity.
•    Manual aircon on the LS, auto on the LT.

GMSA has no exact launch date or prices yet for the Cruze hatchback.


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