The Cruze, in its mid-life-cycle update, gets improvements mostly on the mechanicals front, including a new engine. It’s not like it needed one desperately – the old car’s punchy, 148bhp 2.0-litre common-rail diesel could see off quite a few petrol saloons and was one of its main selling points.
So then why the all-new engine? It’s because GM has globally replaced the previous VM Motoring-developed diesel with its latest ‘Family Z’ unit. Also, an all-new six-speed manual gearbox replaces the five-speed unit of the previous model. A completely new powertrain has helped Chevrolet address problems like the massive turbo lag and heavy clutch that plagued theearlier Cruze.
Apart from the powertrain changes, the Cruze is largely the same as its predecessor. You still get the same sharp styling, which is the biggest selling point of the Cruze (though there is a facelift on its way next year). The cabin is unchanged too, although it carries over the interior upgrades that were effected on the older model some months ago. Hence you get the same extra features like the partially powered driver’s seat and the tweaked seat cushions and headlining to improve headroom at the rear. The lumbar support on the front seats has been softened for better comfort too. It must be said,though, that fit and finish are still some way off the solidity and micrometre perfection of its German rivals, and for sheer comfort, especially at the rear, the Cruze still can’t compete with the best in class.
To help improve fuel economy, the gearbox has been programmed to upshift at the earliest as well,so you sometimes get upshifts just when you don’t want them. Shifting the lever to ‘tiptronic’ mode makes it hang onto the selected ratio until you ask for a shift, but it’s still not engaging as, say, the twin-clutch unit in the Jetta and the Laura.
The Cruze auto is at its best when you’re cruising or when you’re in thick traffic. Fuel efficiency hasbeen one of the key priorities with the new powertrain and in this crucial area there is a distinct improvementover the previous model. The manual Cruze returned a decent 10.8kpl in the city and 15.7kpl on the highway as compared to the 10.3kpl and 14.8kpl for the old car. The automatic Cruze returned 9.8kpl and 15.3kpl for city and highway cycles respectively.