2012 Chevrolet Cruze LT hatchback | road test
|Good||Styling, interior, equipment level|
|Bad||Ride quality, a tad expensive|
|Specs||141bhp 1.8L DOHC I-4 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission|
|Price||As tested: AED 70,000 (LT)|
Associating certain objects with America is pretty darn simple. Talk cheeseburgers, muscle cars or SUVs and the first country that pops into your head is the US of A. Talk hatchback cars and the first country that flashes in your head is probably Japan followed by Italy, Germany and a long list of Asian and South American nations but certainly not America.
Next, take Chevrolet; this brand is synonymous with powerful muscle cars like the Corvette and the Camaro and gigantic SUVs like the Silverado and the Trailblazer. A Chevy hatchback certainly doesn’t entice anyone and with Chevrolet’s recent foray into the small car market, they seem to want to change all that. Lets find out if they can.
Ever since the Chevrolet Cruze hatchback was revealed at the Dubai motor show, it hasn’t really sold like hot cake and is hardly a thorn in its competitors shoes. Selling a hatchback car in the Middle East is an uphill task for any manufacturer and this task is twice more difficult for Chevy with the Japanese and the Koreans having a go at this segment.
Look and feel
First look and the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze hatch looks identical to its sedan version with no significant changes in design. The striking rear end of the car is something that deserves attention though, a lot of it. Chevy gets full marks for the way it’s managed to make a sedan look like hatch without making it look drab. Most hatchbacks which have originated from sedans do not have a stirring, or if I may, a sexy appearance. They appear as if someone sawed off the boot and bolted on a large, vertically opening door. The Cruze however has a very well designed and a well-put together rear and with a coupe-ish downward sloping roofline. The tail lamps too have a contemporary design compared to the competition, which add decisive finishing touches to the overall sporty appearance of the car. In profile, the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze hatchback appears low and grounded, and exudes a sporty intent.
The 2012 Chevrolet Cruze hatchback has a well-appointed interior in terms of quality and equipment. The car’s dual-tone interior feel up-market and space is what we can call, decent. The rear legroom does feel a bit cramped with four seats occupied but there is ample shoulder and headroom to go by.
Engine and performance
The 2012 Cruze hatch gets a 1.8-liter four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 141bhp at 6200rpm and 176Nm of maximum torque at 3800rpm. This engine certainly isn’t a compliment to the cars sporty intent. It fails to deliver the punch you expect and with a not so great amount of torque being delivered at not so great revs, the car feels under powered and acceleration feels dull.
The six-speed transmission, with its lethargic shift speed and tall ratios add to the boredom. The brighter side of this lack luster performance is its impressive fuel economy. The 2012 Cruze hatch burns just 6.6-litres of petrol per 100 kilometers bringing the fuel economy close to 15km/l.
Ride and handling
Given its low stance and wide track, the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze hatchback does a fairly decent job of going around corners without much fuss but don’t expect it to corner like it’s on rails. The steering feels light and the car displays a fair amount of roll while negotiating corners. With Chevrolet claiming that the 2012 Cruze is aligned to the brands sporty and performance heritage, there is certainly a lot of room for improvement in the car.
The 2012 Cruze hatch gets McPherson struts upfront with side-load compensated front strut modules with specially shaped springs and hydraulic bushings. The rear gets a torsion beam setup. The ride is on the stiffer side and surface undulations are transferred to the passenger without much filtering. Driving the 2012 Chevy Cruze hatch on long, empty stretches and at speeds close to the legal limit can be a bit tiring because of the stiff ride and the constant background note of tyre and engine noise that seeps into the cabin. On one occasion, one of the passengers was unable to have a proper phone conversation because of this disturbance, just saying.
Features, functionalities and safety
Internationally the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze hatchback is available in two trims, the LS and the LT. The LT is the fully loaded version while the LS misses out on certain creature comforts in favour a lower price tag. The LS is further segregated into the 1SC and the 1SD variant. The LS gets 15-inch pressed steel wheels, electronically adjustable outside rear view mirrors (ORVM) and keyless entry as standard equipment. Options list on the LS include alloy wheels and fog lamps.
The LT will have two sub-variants, the 1SB and the 1SC with the LT 1SC being the top of the line variant. The LT 1SB gets 16-inch alloys, fog lamps, and electronically adjustable ORVMs as standard. The top of the line LT gets 17-inch alloys and a passive entry as standard along with all other equipment mentioned above.
Other standard features on the car include climate control, anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake distribution (EBD), in-dash audio system with AUX and USB inputs (LT), steering mounted controls, four airbags (LT) and leather wrapped steering wheel and gear knob.
The Cruze sedan, which the Cruze hatchback is based on, has received a 5-star NCAP rating and Chevrolet claims the hatchback too delivers similar safety to its occupants. In our test however we noticed that the front passenger doesn’t have an occupant sensor.
Pricing and warranty
The Cruze LS hatch will set you back by AED 65,000 and the top of the line LT with leather seats and sunroof is priced at AED 70,000.
Chevrolet offers standard 3years/100,000kms warranty and the first service is all taken care of by the company, including consumables.
The Cruze offers a satisfying blend of styling, space and equipment level for a hatchback. However, compared to its Japanese and Korean rivals, the pricing doesn’t tilt in it’s favour. The Cruze hatchback’s price sees it enter sedan territory and with cars like the Kia Optima, Nissan Tiida and the Honda Civic in the same price range, justifying the Cruze hatch’s price tag becomes somewhat of a challenge for Chevrolet.
Engine: 1.8L 4-cyl. engine
Max power (bhp @ rpm): 141bhp @ 6,200rpm
Max torque (Nm @ rpm): 179Nm @ 3,800 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic transmission
Drivetrain layout: front engine; front wheel drive
As tested: AED 70,000 (LT)
As specified: AED 65,000 (LS)