CRUZE MISSILE: Chevrolet gives top selling Cruze more firepower
When it was first unveiled at the 2008 Paris Motorshow, the pressure and expectations resting on the brand new Chevrolet Cruze could not have been greater as the full force of the economic meltdown was starting to take its toll on America’s Big Three automakers.
During its official North American premiere in 2009, right after GM had filed for bankruptcy, its North America President, Mark Reuss, stated that the Cruze “means everything” for them, while New York Times journalist, Nick Bunkley, viewed it as a car that people would “buy because they like it and not because it’s cheap”.
Launched locally in late 2009, the Cruze has proved to be a massive sales success for GMSA with sales of 500 plus units a month. A mid-life facelift, consisting of a redesigned front bumper with chromed foglight surrounds, new grille and lights as well as upgraded interior trim, was introduced in 2012 to further enhance an already competitive package.
Although it takes a keen eye to spot these changes, it is fair to say that the Cruze is still one of the most attractive cars in this segment with its distinctive clam shell bonnet, mini Opel Insignia profile and smart 17 inch alloys on our LS spec test model.
The Cruze’s interior left a big impression on me with good quality materials and its overall layout. Sporty touches included the centre hangdown section finished in a mix of black and silver plastic and the cool looking mint green backlighting for the dials.
This being the top range model, spec level is comprehensive with a six speaker radio/CD/MP3 player with USB and aux input, rear parking sensors, cruise control, auto-locking doors, electric windows all around, six cupholders, sunroof, six airbags, ABS with EBD and BAS, traction control and a five star EuroNCAP crash rating.
My biggest smile however, was reserved for what laid underneath the bonnet. For 2014, Chevrolet has replaced the 1.8-litre petrol engine with a smaller but more powerful 1.4-litre turbo engine, the same unit used in the Opel Astra.
Compared to the old 1.8, the new 1.4 produces 103 kW (one down) and 200 N.m of torque (24 up), and thanks to an eco-mode with start/stop technology, only consumes fuel at a rate of 7.0 l/100 km. Drive goes to the front wheel through a six speed manual box.
A car that leaves me singing a different tune about does not happen often, but that is exactly what the Chevrolet Cruze 1.4T LS did. It looks good, comes highly speced and now has the firepower to match its name.
To book your test drive, visit Williams Hunt Uitenhage at 100 Caledon Street or phone 041 992 7823.
They say while some are destined to be great, others were born great; the latter certainly applies to the Toyota Hilux. From its humble beginnings as a small 1.5-litre pick-up, to its conquering of the South African market...
When it comes to cars - and specifically new and unfamiliar brands, South Africans can be a hard bunch to please. Changing to an unknown brand from an established one can either rank as a brave step and willing to take chances, or complete insanity combined with poor service and numerous trips to the workshop.
According to the folklores of the Inuit, the inhabitants of the Arctic regions surrounding Greenland, Canada and Alaska - more commonly known as Eskimos - any hunter, foolish enough to be hunting at night, would fall victim to a massive wolf-like creature known as an amaroq.
As one of the most important segments in the South African market, the premium hatchback segment has traditionally been a German affair with the Audi A3, Mercedes A-class and the BMW 1-series dominating sales charts. In recent times however, competition has increased as more and more manufactures embark on the quest to topple the teutonic trio.
In the last edition of Business Link Magazine, I had the opportunity to sample the facelifted Chevrolet Cruze, fitted with parent company General Motors’ now-familiar 1.4-litre turbocharged Ecotec engine which produces 103 kW and 200 N.m of torque.
It’s not often that a bakkie, or should that be truck, causes such a stir as the Ford Ranger has done. Even though this mini Ford F150 has been on the market for two years now, it still remains the most talked about vehicle in the bakkie segment with models leaving showroom floors quicker than the factory in Pretoria can build them.
When it comes to offering the best of both worlds - work and play, there can be no doubt that a double cab bakkie strikes the perfect balance. On the one hand, you have a leisure orientated vehicle and on the other, a work vehicle with a decent sized rear load bay for your equipment.
I have always admired the Chevrolet Cruze with its unique stance and styling on the road. When General Motors recently launched a hatch version of this world-class vehicle, I wondered why they would want to fix a winning formula that definitely wasn’t broken.
When it comes to producing small city cars with a touch of style and something different from the norm, you can always count on the Italians to deliver. After all, city cars drive best in a country with crowded and congested cities. Fiat is then the ultimate symbol of these Italian city cars.
No doubt, South Africa is a ‘bakkie-mad’ country. We drive them to work and to everywhere else - they are part of our motoring culture. While the bakkie market, especially for double-cabs, is ever getting tougher, the competition still has a long way to go if they want to dethrone South Africa’s bestselling new vehicle, the all-conquering Toyota Hilux.
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