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.