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Chevrolet Cruze facelift review, test drive

16th Jan 2016 12:50 pm

The minor updates and added equipment are sure to increase the Cruze's value proposition, but doesn't do much to shake up the market.

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  • Make : Chevrolet
  • Model : Cruze

What is it?

This is the updated Chevrolet Cruze and it’s the model that will hold fort until the all-new one arrives in India in 2017. The update brings with it tweaked styling and more equipment.

The focus of the facelift has been at the front end. Chevy’s trademark two part grille remains but now has softer contours and new horizontal chrome slats that add some bling. The front bumper has been redesigned too and now features projector-type fog lamps with ‘C’-shaped chrome shrouds that also house the new LED daytime running lights. The distinctive kinked headlights are carried forward unchanged though. At the rear, the Chevy gets a new lip spoiler but it’s a detail that’s easy to miss. In all, the makeover may not be all that comprehensive but it does work as refreshes go.

There’s little new that immediately catches the eye in the cabin as well. The basic design of the dash, the average plastics and even the cabin colours are same as before. However, the Cruze for 2016 gets Chevrolet’s MyLink touchscreen infotainment system and this is sure to attract buyers. The system can play audio through Bluetooth, USB and aux-in and also features the Gracenote app that accurately displays artist and song information that’s downloaded using the paired phone’s internet connection. The MyLink system includes an internet radio app called Stitcher too but we could not get it to work. While the MyLink system doesn’t break new ground it’s easy to use and the screen is responsive enough to inputs. However, drivers will find reaching the screen quite a stretch. Just as well then that the system’s voice recognition function works well and allows you to use audio and Bluetooth telephone functions without taking your hands off the steering wheel. The system supports a few additional voice functions for Apple devices though there’s no CarPlay. Also of note is that Chevrolet has given the Cruze a new reverse camera system. Top-spec LTZ versions, as the one featured here, continue to feature a sunroof, automatic wipers, partial electric adjust for the driver’s chair (the backrest adjust is still manually operated), keyless go, leather seats and four airbags. Unfortunately, there are still no air-con vents for the rear seat passengers.

As for comfort, the nicely bolstered front seats offer good support. Those seated in the rear will be comfortable but won’t get the same sense of space as they would in something like the Toyota Corolla.

What is it like to drive?

Chevrolet has not altered any of the mechanicals on the Cruze so it is powered by the 164bhp, 2.0-litre diesel engine offered with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. We drove the automatic version and were reacquainted with all that we liked about the Cruze. The power delivery is linear, the gearshifts are smooth and performance in general is strong. Engine refinement levels is also impressive by class standards.

Ride quality is good at low speeds but the Cruze doesn’t drive with the same heft as some rivals at speed. It’s also not the car you’d like to dive into corners in. Steering feel is so-so and the general impression is this car is made for wide sweepers than tight bends.

Should I buy one?

Chevrolet will launch the updated Cruze by the end of January and has confirmed prices will see an upward revision. The base Cruze LT manual is likely to cost Rs 15,000 more (or about Rs 14.5 lakh; estimated, ex-showroom, Delhi) while the fully loaded manual and automatic LTZ models with the MyLink system are set to cost a substantial Rs 70,000 more taking prices up to Rs 16.5 lakh and Rs 17.6 lakh, respectively. Even at the new price level, the Cruze will still be among the most affordable of the executive sedans on offer today. But to be honest, the Cruze’s value proposition is the main reason to be interested in one.

Yes, the Cruze looks attractive, has a strong engine, a reasonably long list of features but the newer competition has taken the game forward. The Cruze is down on space, quality and all-round comfort compared to rivals and simply doesn’t feel as special as it once did. What Chevrolet really should do is bring forward the India launch of the all-new Cruze. The next-gen Cruze has the potential to shake up the market as the original did way back in 2009.

 

Chevrolet Cruze facelift gallery

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