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2016 Chevrolet Cruze Automatic Review, Road Test – Refined Menace

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Chevrolet Cruze Automatic has the performance that can blow premium cars from segment above and has typical understated Chevrolet traits

Enchanting –

  • Muscle car exterior design
  • Well built than the segment best selling cars
  • Stellar performance from a diesel
  • Service and maintenance plans make it a sweet deal
  • Fuel efficient engine, exceptionally brilliant ride quality

Unsatisfying –

  • Dated Infotainment system
  • Low on space when compared
  • Key areas needs after market upgrades

Chevrolet in India hasn’t been doing well in the market. It has been always criticized for bringing in the wrong products at the not so great price tags. People also say that the lack of service stations, the expensive service and everything else keeps them away from an international brand that they would like to have. Well most of those blames aren’t exactly right. Chevrolet does service quality and quantity on par with top rivals, but there aren’t people to spread the word. Chevrolet’s service and maintenance packages along with road side assistance packages comes years back when other manufacturer did not even start. Most cars that go out of the showroom right now is because of the fantastic after sales service in quality and quantity are offered. However, there are people in the critics group along with a large number of people who are happy with cars that they bought.

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A large number of Chevrolet Spark and Beat owners in the small segment and Chevrolet Tavera and Cruze owners in the higher end of the segment. These are the cars that still sell. Apart from the Spark which has been discontinued. Numbers show that these cars are the one’s along with Sail and UVA being sold in fleet market bringing volumes. Cruze is a major calling card for the American brand. After it being updated multiple times in subtle or heavy manner, it has finally reached our garage for some quality testing. We spend a lot of time with this diesel muscle car and tell you is it still worth the money. Does it have special oomph factor that it always had over its rivals? Come, ‘cruise’ along us.

Design

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If you have had a look at the new generation of Cruze that has come out, the car looks more Hyundai then GM. A factor that isn’t going to go well with the enthusiast and fans of the car, because this thing here looks like a proper American muscle car with four doors that is available for the masses. Every single panel is macho and massive. There are strong curves, like muscle with nerves sticking out curves. The headlights are chunky and so are the tail-lamps. They are pure form and their function is quite weak. Most owners are seen upgrading them to fancy projector at front and LED”s at rear. Trust us, those are necessities and they do work really well.

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Side profile is short, stubby and with a road presence like this, you don’t need an SUV to scare people. Front-end with the Chevy bow-tie and this time with a lot of chrome means the Cruze is more mature and aged now. The LED DRL particularly are really good in both form and function. See the front-end in your mirror and you are bound to give it way. We ended up giving some despite we were in the same car. The alloy wheels distinguish this car as a 2016 model. Overall, let’s just term it as a mature muscular brute like no other in the segment that carries this kind of character.

Interior

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Get inside and the maturity is apparent and not in a good way either. The infotainment system is massively dated but the look of cabin, the dashboard layout, the steering and everything can still work for quite some time. Black interior with just about decent plastics for this category of vehicle do their job well. Leather seats and a overall dark interior may put of some premium buyers off, but it can still can turn the button on for enthusiasts, since there is so many options in the market to make this better. Cruze is more of an clean slate to play with. Accessories in the market to take this car to any level are all ready at your disposal.

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Space in the front is good, but the knee of the driver keeps hitting the A/C knob which can get irritating. Front seats are supportive and driver side is electric while passenger side is mechanical. Rear seats are fantastic in support, but the lack of legroom is a problem. Headroom is just about decent and shoulder room is good for this segment. There are lot of cubby holes and stowage areas in the cabin to keep things. Boot space at just about 500 litres seems cramped at first glance but can storage a healthy amount of luggage for your outings.

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Features list includes connectivity options such as Bluetooth, AUX, USB and CD player. AM/FM are available too. You can choose 16 different favorite channels as bookmarks. Rear View Camera Touchscreen Display, Steering Mounted Audio Controls, fully electric ORVM, electric IRVM, All 4 Power Windows with auto Down, cruise control, parking sensors front and rear, a dead pedal and the large 7-inch touch-screen are some features on offer. Surprisingly day and night ORMV have been given a miss.

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There are all the fuel efficiency parameters on offer that can be seen in the middle screen of the speedo meter. A/C is a chiller like any other GM car in India. The sound system doesn’t live upto the price tag at all. You can say there is a lot of stuff missing from the list, that isn’t a problem, the problem is everything looks dated.

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Safety kit sadly has two airbags on offer as standard, top variants get side airbags. ABS and EBD are standard on all variants. What also comes in handy are the 4 kmph Impact Proof Front and Rear Bumpers, which are boon and as an owner of a Chevrolet Car, i have never changed a bumper in 7 years of owning despite dings and dashes. The other person ended up changing when there was a ‘dash’.

Engine and Gearbox

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What is the strong highlight of the entire package is the diesel motor under the hood. The 2.0 litre inline-four motor makes 166 PS of power and 360 Nm of torque. It’s competitor for example make power figures like 126 BHP and 140 BHP. Torque numbers are way too higher than the competition. The new motor is extremely refined, terrifically smooth and insanely powerful. NVH level are really good as well. The motor from the previous generation is far more superior in every way possible.

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Despite turbo lag, that still exist, there is enough power to trundle around in traffic. The motor is now extremely flexible as it rev freely and quickly. Cross the 2000 RPM mark and along with torque steer, which is there but controlled well, it will shoot you into the horizon with such confidence, stability and that you would be hard pressed to imagine what the car’s speed is. We usually thought we were doing 80 km/hr but ended up doing 110 km/hr between a large traffic gap that we closed on a narrow lane.

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At expressway it will be impossible to keep the car below 130/140 km/hr if you are an enthusiast. The car can eat up the expressway like like a week old hungry person. Gone in seconds. We did the usual Mumbai-Pune expressway and we wouldn’t like to quote numbers that finished the expressway with little to no traffic on offer. We could see a max speed on a safe stretch which was around 180 km/hr and was willing to go but we ran out of safe space.

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The 6-speed gearbox is quite, smooth and noiseless in any situation. One of the few torque converters that are tuned to near perfection. Sadly, there isn’t any sports mode on offer, but there is a manual/tiptronic option on offer to make things more enthusiast friendly. Mid-range and top-end is the highlight of the motor and it just loves stretching its leg. All this time, the engine did not show sign of any stress whatsoever. We are pretty sure with that kind of performance it can make premium cars eat dust at times.

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Dynamics

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When it comes to ride and handling, the Cruze continues to stay very practical. The ride quality is downright brilliant for our roads conditions. The Cruze is planted on all kind of roads at any given speed. Going fast over bad roads or slow on really broken roads, there is very little that is transferred to the cabin. Dynamically, it isn’t super sharp as its key German rivals. However, it is still better than its Asian rivals. The steering is inconsistent despite being a pure hydraulic unit. It can feel heavy and light at high speeds and same goes for low-speeds. The steering stays just about light for parking maneuvers.

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There is a bit of body roll in the corners but it quick turn into corners thanks to a short wheelbase and just about enough grip from tyres. Just about average when it comes to dynamics. Partly because tyres do need a upgrade as size and compound isn’t enough/great for this powerhouse. This still shouldn’t make a world of a difference but will be a satisfactory upgrade overall and increase the safety quotient even more. Safety comes from massive disc brakes on all four-ends as the pedal bite and power from them is just spot on.

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Automatic Review, Verdict

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Overall, the Cruze continues to be a drivers car. Pick the manual and drive it yourself and you will be fine. Even the price tag then fits the bill right. Automatic top-end variant can be a bit expensive and the lack of space in the rear does not make it an ideal chauffeur driven car. Automatic on the other hand is a great gearbox and can be bought if you grind yourself in daily city traffic and then you can head out on the weekend for some fun.

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Lack of features is also a sore point, but then every time GM dealers are offering a good discount amount to make sure that isn’t a problem. Think of it this way, ‘Diesel rocket’ tagline is for a reason, everything else that comes along are basically freebies, if you ask us. So, if you ask us, if we choose to ‘Cruise’? ALWAYS!

Price for Chevrolet Cruze Automatic/Manual

Cruze – 2.0 LT MT BS4 Rs.13.95 Lakhs
Cruze – 2.0 LTZ MT BS4 Rs.16.43 Lakhs
Cruze – 2.0 LTZ AT BS4 Rs.17.46 Lakhs

Ex-showroom Delhi

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