DRIVING IMPRESSION: Chevrolet Cruze 1.4T LS AT
Having spent a week flinging its hatchback sibling around town and venturing onto the open road, it was likely to be only a matter of time when the sedan version of Chevrolet’s facelifted Cruze would arrive for testing.
What took me off-guard however, was the fact that I would swooping my range topping LS hatch, for the same spec sedan fitted with the now familiar 1.4-litre turbocharged Ecotec engine, but with the 103 kW and 200 N.m of torque being channelled through a six-speed automatic box instead of the similar ratio manual.
In truth, the prospect of simply switching from one model to a fundamentally similar one left me feeling somewhat nervous as the only difference was the choice of drivetrain. Only on you closer inspection did the differences start to emerge.
As with the hatch, the sedan benefitted from a second, and somewhat unexpected, nip/tuck earlier this year which saw changes to the styling, the addition of Chevrolet’s MyLink touchscreen infotainment system and the discontinuation of the 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine in favour of the model you are reading about.
Unlike its sibling though, the sedan’s external changes are not only limited to the revised front clip and addition of bumper mounted LED daytime running lights. At the rear, the dual taillight clusters have been replaced by a more angular setup seemingly inspired by the US-market Chevrolet Malibu, while a revised bumper with wraparound chrome strip and new bootlid complete the look.
What has remained unchanged from the hatch is the layout and finish of the interior. Getting into the sedan felt like familiar territory as now famed dual-cockpit cabin once highlighted why the Cruze has become a local favourite.
Not only does the silver and black finish on the centre console appear smart and afford the cab with a sense of sophistication, but the quality of the plastics used again surprised especially those on the area in question and the dashboard.
The same could also be said for the quality of the switchgear while the leather wrapped steering wheel with its perfectly placed buttons for the audio system, Bluetooth and toggle switches for the cruise control, felt grippy and offered decent feedback without being completely devoid of any feeling.
Where the Cruze continues to excel is its level of comfort. The cloth trimmed seats are about as supportive and comfortable as it gets while the aforementioned wheel, like with the hatch, can be adjusted for rake and reach as well as height. In the back, and with the seat once again locked into my driving position, I was able to get my 1.84 m frame in with more than enough leg and headroom to spare.
Cargo space frankly is no worry as pressing the button on the keyfob reveals a most capacious boot that can swallow up to 469-litres.
Standard spec is generous and includes a six-speaker audio system with USB, Aux and Bluetooth audio streaming, auto lock/unlock doors, electric windows, traction control, electric mirrors, six airbags as well as ABS with EBD and BAS.
As mentioned during my tenure with the hatch, the biggest highlight was stirring away at the six-speed box which somehow managed to steal some of the engine’s shine in the drivetrain department.
When mated with the auto, the opposite effect is evident as the Ecotec mill feels more liver and eager to perform while the box, in essence the same 6T40 unit used in the Opel Mokka, is geared for comfort rather than performance and doesn’t like being rushed. That said it proved to be an absolute boon in stop/start traffic without the usual jerkiness or sudden cog swamp often expected from a self-shifter.
Like with the hatch, the sedan’s soft suspension setup allows for a smooth ride with the usual array of imperfections well covered. Trying to upset this proved futile as the Cruze simply glided over a piece of broken tarmac or manhole cover with little to no shudder or sudden steering movement.
Famously descried by General Motors’ North American President Mark Ruess as a “make or break” vehicle after the global meltdown, the Chevrolet Cruze’s combined worldwide sales of three million units in seven years has confirmed its parent company’s promise of producing a vehicle people would like to buy and not because of its price.
With its recently unveiled successor set for local introduction next year, its global and local impact is no longer ignorable.
|ENGINE LAYOUT||DOHC 16v Inline 4 Turbo|
|MAX POWER||103 kW @4900-6000 rpm|
|MAX TORQUE||200 N.m @1850-4900 rpm|
|DRIVE LAYOUT||Front engine; Front-wheel drive|
|ACCELERATION [0-100 KM/H]||10.4 secs|
|TOP SPEED||204 km/h|
|FUEL CONSUMPTION||6.8 L/100 km|
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