From a brand best known for the Rs. 3 lakh Spark, the Cruze took the fight straight to the segment leader, the Toyota Corolla. For 2 quarters in 2011, the Cruze outsold its Japanese rival to claim the no. 1 spot in the D1 sedan category. The Laura, Civic and Jetta aren’t even close on the sales chart. The Cruze’s trick lies in a combination of funky styling, great pricing, fast & efficient engine and loaded equipment levels. The 2012 car now offers even more power & equipment. On the downside, the cramped back seat – a perennial owner complaint – hasn’t been improved.
The 2012 Cruze’s kerb weight has gone up by 17 kilos to 1,537. This is primarily down to the new engine and 6-speed gearbox. The LT variant is now far better equipped and gets a full MID, pure keyless entry & engine start / stop button, tilt & telescopic steering, 6-way adjustable electric driver’s seat and front foglamps. In fact, when it comes to features, the new LT variant is nearly on par with the older LTZ variant. For about Rs. 90,000 more (ex-showroom), the LTZ adds a sunroof, leather upholstery, electric folding & heated ORVMs, rear parking assist, automatic wipers, cruise control, bluetooth-streaming ICE and an auto dimming inside mirror. The Automatic gearbox option is only available on the LTZ trim. The LT variant is well-equipped by itself, yet I do feel that the LTZ is worth the extra money.
Contrary to popular opinion, we saw no perceptible difference in the rear headroom; it’s still limited. Notice the clearance from Ghostrider‘s head in the old Cruze…and the new. Overall rear seat comfort is more C2 segment than D1. The Altis, Fluence & Jetta are better suited to being chauffeur-driven.The needles give you a salute…a full sweep of the dial, each time you start the Cruze. This feature was present in the 2011 Cruze too…The ol’ Cruze had an AQS (air quality sensor) button which makes the climate control automatically switch to recirculation mode when it sensed foul air (e.g. exhaust fumes). Not in the new Cruze.A useful feature – 60:40 folding rear seat – has been removed from the 2012 Cruze (it was there in the ’09 Cruze).
You’ve got to hand it to Chevy for frequently updating their cars. In the 3 years since launch, the Chevrolet Cruze received black interiors (last year), had the turbo-lag of the older engine reduced (last year) and now, more power & equipment. In the same time period, the Beat was the recipient of an upgraded petrol engine and a new diesel engine. The Tavera also got a new powerplant under its hood, while the Captiva was recently revamped.
• 16 additional BHP of peak power (@ 200 rpm earlier) and 53 Nm more peak torque (@ 600 rpm earlier).
• Engine displacement has increased from 1,991cc to 1998cc.
• Chain-driven double overhead camshafts (DOHC) over the belt-driven single overhead camshaft.
• Fuel injection at up to 1,800 bar (max pressure earlier was 1,600 bar).
• Dual mass flywheel.
• Perfectly square bore / stroke spec of 86 x 86 mm (older engine was 83 x 92 mm).
• Turbo-charger has been positioned differently. It’s been moved to the front for a more efficient output.
• Engine mounts & overall NVH have been worked upon.
• New cylinder head port design for increased air flow and variable swirl control by incorporating Cobra-shaped intake ports.
The new motor is a lot more practical to live with. As Tsk1979’s original review had indicated, the earlier Cruze was dreadful in traffic due to its aggressive clutch and an engine that was practically dead below 2,000 rpm. One of the reasons you buy a diesel is the low-end torque & lugging ability; this was completely missing in the earlier Cruze.
The spread of torque is far superior in the updated engine. The accelerator just feels so much more responsive within the city, in the exact same conditions that the older car felt dull. You can play in traffic right from 1,500 rpm and up with the FAM Z engine. At this stage, the turbo obviously hasn’t completely woken up, but there is enough torque to navigate through urban areas. At 1,800 rpm, you can feel the turbo start tugging. It is important to mention that the new engine makes peak torque a full 600 rpm earlier. In a typical city situation at 30 kph, BHPian Ghostrider’s 2011 Cruze took nearly 2 seconds to respond. On the other hand, the 2012 Cruze responded in about half a second. You simply don’t need to drop a gear as often with the new engine, and neither is the 2012 Cruze frustrating in traffic. Driveability is now acceptable and Cruze owners won’t be complaining anymore. Still, even though turbo-lag has greatly reduced, in-city behaviour isn’t as competent as the Jetta. The Chevy diesel isn’t as forgiving as the VW engine.
Owners of the older Cruze will complain that the 2,000 rpm whoosh is gone, but don’t listen to them. Yes, when the turbo kicks in, the new Cruze is nowhere as volatile as the older car was. Ghostrider offered a great analogy; think of it as the difference between the turbo’s behaviour of the old Swift & the new. Floor the accelerator and the Cruze uses all of its 164 horses to push you back into the seat, albeit not with the same ferocity as before. For such a powerful engine driving the front wheels, the torque steer is remarkably well controlled. The engine is extremely free-revving, all the way to its max rpm of 4,800. Acceleration is strong well beyond the 1.5 ton mark. In terms of fun, and how the engine feels, this is as good as it gets in the D1 segment. The mid-range packs a punch and, as a result, overtaking is as easy as point & shoot. The Cruze can effortlessly maintain high speed all day on the expressway, and easily keep up with the more expensive C-Class and 3 Series as well. The new engine is as much a highway mile muncher as before. 100 km/h in 6th gear sees the rpm needle at slightly below 1,700 rpm (just like the older engine), while 120 kph is at 1,950 rpm.
What’s equally impressive is the NVH insulation. The 2012 Cruze is supremely refined in all driving conditions. Whether at high rpm or low, the engine remains one of the smoothest diesels in the segment. Vibrations & engine noise are well controlled. Due to the refinement and power on tap, the car’s long distance touring ability is fabulous. The gear-throw isn’t suited to the well-rounded engine though. I wish the shifts were closer, like the VW group’s short throw boxes. Shift action is fairly light in the first 4 gears. BHPian N.S.X. says that the clutch is easier to use than that of his VW Jetta. No, it’s not a light, effortless clutch at all, but neither is it a deal breaker anymore.
Due to the lesser lag, expect the fuel efficiency to be higher. In areas other than the engine though, the Cruze didn’t impress the enthusiast in me. The steering is vague, the dynamics strictly average and the interior quality far from the segment benchmark. Then, there is the compromised back seat. The engine really brings the Cruze the fan following that it enjoys, reminding me in some ways of the fan club of the 1st generation Honda City Vtec.
|Exterior Color||Solid White|