The first impressions in the car park were actually quite good. The Chevrolet Cruze looked sharp. It looks distinctive and, in a land of hatchbacks, it stands out by being a saloon.
I only wish I could say that the experience lived up to the first impression. Sadly I found myself fighting with the various seat and steering wheel adjustments, trying to find a comfortable driving position. Even after a lot of adjustment, I still found my clutch foot hanging in midair, because the pedals are so far off the floor. If ever a car needed a clutch foot rest, this was it.
The interior is reasonably attractive, if not particularly cohesive in its design. There seem to be a mixture of finishes, including the unusual cloth on the dashboard face. But one other thing that I hated was the interior door handles. They resembled ashtrays, and it was far too easy for your fingers to slip out the slot and to tear a fingernail (or two, in my wife’s case).
Once I had found an acceptable seating position and managed to close the door, I started to manoeuvre out of the car park. This flagged up another shortcoming. The turning circle is poor.
Out on the open road, the Chevrolet Cruze proved notably quiet, with good insulation from road and engine noise. Unfortunately the steerng also felt rather insulated from the road.
Although the Chevrolet Cruze LT has the 1.8-litre engine, it often felt quite sluggish during initial acceleration. You really have to work quite hard to get the Cruze to perform.
Overall I managed an average of 28.7 mpg which is reasonable, if not outstanding. The official combined figure is 41.5 mpg. The 1.8-litre engine puts out 141 bhp and propels the Chevrolet Cruze from 0 to 62 mph in 10 seconds. CO2 emissions are 184 g/km.
Where the Chevrolet Cruze does score is by offering a family saloon, with reasonable space, and a keen price. For Chevrolet Cruze LT that price is £14,395. This puts it almost £4000 below the price of the equivalent Ford Focus five-door hatchback. Oh, and if you are seduced by the very American sounding name, just note that the Chevrolet Cruze is produced in Korea, badged Chevrolet following GM’s takeover of Daewoo.
However, I cannot see anyone who enjoys driving really finding that the Chevrolet Cruze complements the driving style. I found it difficult to drive either enthusiastically, or slowly and relaxed. It just seems that the final refinement and sophistication of the driving experience was one of the economies in the development of this car.
So it comes down to how desperate you are to buy a new car at a keen price.