Review: Chevrolet Cruise 2.0 VCDi LTBy Simon Donohue
September 02, 2009
Anyone who’s visited a high street recently will have witnessed the proliferation of pound shops where what the Americans call ‘mom and pop’ stores used to stand.
My local shopping bunker – a charmless concrete temple to convenience without charm if ever there was one – boasts B & M bargain stores stuffed cheek by jowl with a Poundland outfit and a gargantuan Quality Save where you’d only recently have found the Woolworth’s closing down sale.
It’s not all terrible. In fact, it can be heaven for the browser with time to kill and at least a quid in their pocket.
There are copious things you hadn’t previously realised that you couldn’t live without and some of them are quite useful.
Gazebos for a penny less than a tenner, cut-price cat food, sweets, trinkets, all manner of exciting things extruded from plastic and rendered un-pass-by-able by those nice people in China.
If there is a rub then it’s the fact that value comes at the expense of choice. Poundland is a place where the shelves are filled not necessarily with what people really, really want, but what the stores’ buyer can get his hands on really cheaply.
Consequently, homes throughout the country will be providing shelf space to decent quality stuff that people don’t necessarily need or want, but are still perfectly happy with in any case.
If cars were cheap enough to be sold in Poundland, then you’d most likely find a Chevrolet Cruze blocking the gardening aisle.
Come to think of it, maybe there is a market for an On-The-Road for £11,995 outlet.
It’s not necessarily a car that you’d go out shopping for (the list would say things like VW Jetta and Ford Focus) but if you stumbled upon it, closed your eyes and tried it, you’d discover that it’s actually good enough for your requirements.
To put that another way, the new Chevrolet Cruze is a little like the can of Shmeinz beans and sausage you buy only to discover that they’re only slightly less beans and sausagey than the ones made by Heinz… and much cheaper too!
It’s a saloon which marks something of a turning point in motoring – the moment at which something sold for small bucks does a job so reasonable that you really don’t need to spend any more.
The Cruze replaces the Lacetti – the Top Gear track’s reasonably-priced car – and is a clear step up in quality.
Even the highest priced car, the 2-litre VCDi in LT trim, comes in at a little more than £15,000.
It’s eye-catching from the outside, a car constructed with steep angles and with a look which does more than nod towards Chevrolet’s heritage as a brand based firmly in the US of A.
It must be proud of that fact too – the yellow bow-tie front badge is hardly subtle.
The interior of the Cruze is every bit as acceptable at this price as the exterior is eye catching.
Plastics are on the cheap side and there’s a weird use of seat-style material on the dashboard, but it’s not too terrible a place to be.
The only thing that feels slightly discount is the way it drives and handles which, while not awful, has that vaguely loose feel about it.
There are three engines to choose from right now – 1.6 and 1.8 litre petrol, 2 litre diesel – and it’s the latter which I drove.
I liked the engine: smooth, quiet and far from a chore to drive, but make sure you weigh up those fuel consumption figures before justifying the additional outlay to buy the oil burner.
The petrol engines – which offer similar frugality and running costs – are probably the better choice.
There are three choices of trim, with the range-topping LT providing pretty much all the gadgets you’ll need.
A five-door hatchback will be along by the end of the year, but for now it’s the four door saloon model that you’ll be offered.
Boot space is OK-ish, but access through the lid is a little bit limited.
A first for a Chevrolet is a large screen infotainment system, but be aware that it carries an additional outlay of £750.
Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a vehicle worthy of top brand status. It doesn’t feel as well built as a Ford. But if you’re looking for something cheap, practical and stylish to spend your money on, then its well worth cruising past your local Chevrolet dealer to take a look.
One thing I’ll guarantee: you’ll get far more use out of it than a gazebo and you’ll still have change to fill the boot with all manner of cheap stuff you never knew you needed.
Model: Chevrolet Cruise 2.0 VCDi LT
0 to 62mph: 10.3 seconds
Top speed: 124 mph
Insurance Group: 7
Emissions: 149 g/km