Review: '(00) takes the Chevrolet Cruize for a cruise

Discussion in 'News and Features' started by keshy, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. keshy

    keshy Moderator
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    Globalization is supposed to bring the world closer together by integrating all the different aspects of our lives to function as one big and well-lubricated machine. So logic dictates that a globally designed car would fly off the showroom floors faster than an underground fiber optics cable could send an e-brochure of it your way.

    This brings us then to the Chevrolet Cruze, a truly global car and the model to spearhead the bowtie brand’s assault on key markets, well naturally, worldwide.

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    Although the model has been available since 2008, it has only recently landed on our shores due to the brand’s turbulent history locally, with two prior distributors having failed to straighten the brand with the bowtie here. It’s hard to say it will be smooth sailing but third time’s the charm and Pavilion Crest, a subsidiary of Naza group of Companies, is the one that finally brought in the Cruze which, on paper, appears to be a great buy.

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    Of course you have to walk the talk if you’re going to weigh in against the Japanese stronghold in the C-segment, although recent offerings like the Kia Forte and Peugeot 308 have already applied some well placed blows to the foundations of the sushi stronghold.

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    On a recent drive to the east coast, we got an opportunity to really put the Cruze through its paces and see if it could cruise alongside its peers.

    Just as you meet somebody for the first time, looks would most likely leave the first impressions and the Cruze does score highly in that respect. On first glance, for some reason, the Cruze does come across as slightly lacking in the size department but looks can be deceiving and flipping through the brochure, the Cruze is actually 5mm longer than the Civic.

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    From all angles, it casts a very continental-like silhouette but the longer you lock your gaze on it the more distinctively Korean it looks, not that there’s anything wrong with that as Korean cars are now some of the best looking on the market. Though Korean in itself wouldn’t cut it, so the designers infused some conti design cues into the mix.

    Up front, the upwards-curved headlights combine with the angled air intakes to give it a fierce stare that might just put some shivers into its competition. The split grille helmed by the huge Chevy bowtie lets you know what’s creeping lurking behind if you spot it on the road.

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    Spin her around and the rear sports a friendlier demeanor although it has been the subject of strong contention as to its resemblance. There are shades of a Toyota Camry while the dual circular tail lights scream Civic. Nonetheless, it’s agreeable that the rear is pretty handsome.

    The Cruze’s best angle though has to be the side profile. A strong shoulder line that slides upwards and blends into the tail lights sets the tone for a sleek profile that is further accentuated by the sloping roofline.

    Additional design details littered all around the exterior do no harm, such as the faux paus chrome strip adorning the door handles. Stare at it long enough again and you might realize that the rear doors seem oddly short although that doesn’t seem to translate into the cabin.

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    Interior wise, the Cruze scores big too with little for us to complain about. The use of fabric on the dash is a very refreshing change to the garden variety soft plastics and don’t think Chevy copped out on the plastics as the quality had a very premium feel to it. Fit and finish was top notch as well with the fabric bits mating well with the plastic ends.

    Just remember to wash your kid’s hands before they get in the car as last time we checked, fabric stains easily.

    The steering gets tilt and telescopic adjustability and is crafted from plastic that is very nice to the touch. Steering mounted buttons handle the audio system. As inevitable as the pun seems, most of you would definitely be wondering if the Cruze comes with cruise control and sorry to disappoint but there’s no ‘cruize’ control here.

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    Headlining the interior is the center console that houses the in-dash 6-CD changer together with the info display screen. As per the segment standard nowadays, the head unit is MP3 capable and even had a 3.5mm audio input jack but surprisingly lacked its USB twin.

    The screen displays the audio, air-conditioning and other parameters, including apparently a silhouette of the upper female anatomy. How that is related to the audio parameters we may never know but thankfully we managed to navigate away from that page.

    Everything is illuminated in a cool blue hue that matches the blue wraparound fabric used as well. True to its conti design, the Cruze gets a knob to police the headlight functions instead of the standard twisty steering stalk.

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    Interior space is very generous, as is rear legroom although the sloping roofline at the rear does make head clearance for the lanky ones a bit of an issue. Overall though, the interior is a nice place to be in and the seating positions are well laid out. Throughout the drive from Kuala Terengganu back to Kuala Lumpur we never really felt any fatigue or soreness in the joints, testimony to the excellent seating positions.

    For those long family trips though, the 450-liter boot might be a bit of a tight squeeze. This is probably due to the excessive sloping roofline that cuts out rear interior space.

    Motivation for the Cruze comes from a 1.8-liter DOHC Ecotec motor that has the variable cam phasing and a variable intake system. All this combines to push a healthy 140hp@6,200rpm and 176Nm of torque @3,799rpm to the front wheels via the piece de resistance of the Cruze, its Hydramatic 6-speed slushbox that is a segment first.

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    Furthermore, the transmission is said to be maintenance-free and come with the obligatory manual override mode for those spirited drives. How true the maintenance-free part is we will see in time to come.

    Sitting pretty on the Delta II platform see the front corner blessed with MacPherson struts while the rear benefits from a sugared-up torsion beam with some minor additions to tighten things up.

    Hauling anchor comes in the form of discs at the corners with ventilated ones for the front.

    Taking on the B-roads before getting to the East Coast Expressway allowed us to really hammer the Cruze into submission and see if it gave in. Surprisingly, the Cruze took all those tight corners and sweeping bends with gusto.

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    Steering feedback was plentiful and always kept you in the loop on the front wheels happenings. Turn-in was very reassuring and gave you the confidence to push it that much more.

    So the front was very well behaved and did as it was told but unfortunately the rear always seemed to have other ideas. That shouldn’t be the case with the ‘compound crank axle’ (read: Torsion Beam) but it seems that the rear was more enthusiastic about cornering, so much so that it always threatened to come around faster than the front.

    Nonetheless, even on the rare occasion that we nudged it a pinch too hard, the Cruze was still easy on the edge and we managed to reign it in without too much drama or dismembered male organs that come in pairs.

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    Dropping the anchor as we entered the turns, the car still tracked stably. The mandatory ABS, EBD and traction control were on hand though just in case the next turn headed for Uglyville.

    The powerplant was a nippy performer and was ever willing to be pushed, adding to the fun we had pushing her on the B-roads and making overtaking that much quicker and safer.

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    The letdown for the powertrain package though was the transmission. While it’s true that the 6-speeder gives Chevy bragging rights but was it really a good idea mating so many gears to a small engine? The first four gears are pretty well spaced although the first cog could have been slightly shorter but once you’re in second it’s all good.

    On the highway is where you would find that fifth and sixth gears are just too close to each other, so much so that sixth actually made cruising above 120km/h quite difficult. We spent the entire highway portion of the drive home in fifth because that allowed us to keep up the pace and, you know, check for NVH at high speeds.

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    Suffice to say, wind noise and NVH in general was impressive up to about 140km/h. Anything above that though and you can’t really expect a quiet drive can you?

    So at RM101,523.90 (OTR w/insurance), is the Cruze a worthy addition to the C-segment? Well it definitely fills all the criteria of the contenders against the Jap juggernaut. It’s packed with features, has an edge over the competition in regards to the powertrain, looks good, drives decently and is very competitively priced.

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    We’re not entirely sold on the Cruze yet but then again, value-for-money drives a pretty hard bargain doesn’t it?

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    Article written by - Dinesh Appavu
     

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  2. hisha

    hisha Senior Member
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    damn ~~ the tail light was the latest BMW 7 series n Civic FD tail lite combination ~~overall ...still looks not bad
     
  3. naza

    naza Senior Member
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    nice interior:adore:
     
  4. gfinian

    gfinian Senior Member
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    How is the fuel consumption? :hmmmm:
     
  5. t_danker

    t_danker Senior Member
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    hey, mind showing us the silhouette of the upper female anatomy? hehe
     
  6. turbolover

    turbolover Senior Member
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    Nippy?Nah I don't think so.Tried it and it feel awfully sluggish and standard wheels are small for a car that size.
     
  7. khairiaz

    khairiaz Senior Member
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    wonder why this car takes Malaysia market by storm. The price should have been RM46k.
     

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