Cruze Series II: Not bad but still feels a bit bargain basement rather than value for money.

 

2011 - Series II Cruze CDX2011 - Series II Cruze SRi-V interior2011 - Series II Cruze rangeSeries II Cruze launch - Prime Minister Julia Gillard2011 - Series II Cruze CDX

Cruze Series II

Quickie review

Outside:

Not much different from previous offering. Different badges on the new upper Sri and SRiV and the 1.4l gets the trendy green badge.

Head and tail lights still not my bag.

Overall design neat and tidy if a little uninspiring.

Big wheels improve the looks no end.

Inside

Still no standard Bluetooth.

Some of the plastics look a bit cheap.

Decent build quality for an entry level car.

Adequate audio system including USB/AUX input.

Comfy seats if a trifle too firm.

Roomy interior.

Driving

Decent steering: Nicely weighted, reasonably sharp.

Both 1.4 petrol and 2.0 diesel ok power and fuel consumption.

Great ride especially on the Highway.

Overtaking needs planning in the diesel.

The test:

We went all out with Cruze. We had the bottom of the range with a 1.4L turbo petrol and a midrange CDXd in a 2.0L turbo diesel. It was the turbo diesel that got the nod for our trip to Floriade in Canberra. We’ve cast our eye over the first iteration and quite liked it. We thought it a little cheap in places and noted the head and tail lights looked a little too “Korean” to be dinky di. There was no Bluetooth and little touches such as auto washers and keyless start were missing on what was then the top model.

So let’s have a gander at the latest one. The outside remains almost the same. The only noticeable thing was a badge with green highlights that signify the new engines and a slightly different grill. The lights remain the same and for my liking don’t look quite right. Other than that the outside has a reasonable feel of quality. The appearance is vastly enhanced with big fat wheels. I saw a top-of-the-line Cruze a few weeks ago with big wheels that because of the dark colour looked even bigger. The large wheels had a stunning effect and took away some of the chunkiness inherent in small car design. It’s something to consider if the standard wheels don’t float your boat. I haven’t driven the SRIv yet but wait with baited anticipation.

The inside hasn’t changed much so there is still that slight air of cheapness of which I wasn’t fond in the Korean made models. The models sold here are made here but the design remains unchanged. The dash is backlit in a soft blue which I like but takes a little while to get used to. It’s nice to see a colour other than basic auto orange staring back through the night at you. Surprisingly the ubiquitous Bluetooth still isn’t present; something which is hard to believe these days isn’t it. They say it is going to be standard next year, but that doesn’t help us much as our test drive was this year.

By far, the most impressive thing about the Cruze diesel is the drive. The fuel figures are impressive and the performance, particularly off the mark, is spritely. Of course low first gear helps no end but the 120KW engine has 360 Nm of torque which is what matters at the traffic lights if you don’t want sand kicked in your face. The Canberra run showed up a few things, notably that the Cruze is very quiet and smooth on the highway. The only time you notice anything is even the gentlest poke on the accelerator. The more you shove your foot to the floor the more the diesel intrudes into the cabin. It’s not unpleasant and I think you would get used to the diesel sound after a while. On the subject of the diesel, the impressive 6.7 L/100K (combined) is quite decent for a car this size. On the highway you get about 5.5L/100K which means you might score 1200k’s on a long trip. Keeping in mind you will pay $1.50 per litre, that’s $90 to fill your 60L tank, you’ll get from Sydney to either Brisbane or Melbourne and have fuel to spare. That should appeal to the thriftiness in us all. Throw a couple of chums in back and you have a road trip for a little money.

The boot is a good size too. My overnight bag seemed a bit lost in it. As with most cars, I usually have my bags inside because there is nothing worse than a bag sliding from side to side in the back.

Handling is similar to the previous model and although I wouldn’t exactly call it sporty, it is very good. The steering is nicely weighted with enough feel to let you know what the car is doing and the suspension feels properly dampened. It made for a very comfy ride which is essential if you’re going to be doing country k’s. You know what some of the alleged highways are like don’t you? There are potholes and ruts and surfacing you’d expect from 3rd world countries which can make a long trip torture. Funnily enough the road from Sydney to Canberra isn’t too bad. This is to be expected when the people who decide what roads get fixed all work in Canberra.

The ESC consists of EBD, ABS, Brake assist and traction control. The stability control can be partially turned off but most of us aren’t ever going to do that, because along with airbags, car safety has improved so much that deaths from accidents have decreased despite the number of drives having increased drastically over the last few decades. The truth is that the small car segment has improved out of sight. technology makes small cars as safe as large car because you’re not relying on the physical metal to protect you.There are now other active and passive

The only fault I could pick with the drive was there is not a lot of puff left for overtaking. The electronically governed engine dies as you get to redline and the power dies along with it. It’s great for your engine but not so great in emergencies. The diesel is still a little rough compared to euro-engines.

We arrived in Canberra having had a quick, quiet well-mannered drive. The return trip used less than half a tank of juice. Had we used Bio Diesel which is made from vegetable oil, the trip would also have been completely CO2 neutral.

The 1.4 Turbo petrol get Watts Link suspension in the rear and electric power steering as the major differences.

We’ll be driving the Peugeot 1.6 eHDI Micro-Hybrid in a few weeks which is a few thou more than the top Cruze so we’ll see how that compares.

Engine

Power

Torque

Co2

Fuel

0-100

Price min

Price max

2.0l

120 kw

360nm

175gms

diesel

?

21,999

32,990

The good:The ride, fuel usage, long service intervals

The bad: interior feels a bit cheap, diesel dies near rev limit

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