Weathering the storm with a smooth Cruze

2009-10-17 11:43

GENERAL Motors have had their share of the limelight over the past

few months, often relating mostly to gloomy financial news, but the latest

Chevrolet Cruze might just be their saving grace – especially here on home


The company’s reputation might have taken a knock, leaving

customers feeling a bit uneasy about the brand. Given the economic climate, the

Cruze sailed in at just at the right time. It is good-looking, economical and

affordable for an average family looking for the complete package.

We at City Drive have opened our arms wide to the latest member of

the family, with the delivery of a Cruze 1.6 LS model.

As expected, any additional member of a family needs a name; and

this new baby has been named “Penelope” for now – as in the actress Penelope

Cruz – and she will be our longterm test car for the next six months.

She is grey in colour and her interior is covered in good-quality

materials, with some of that even on the trim. I am a bit sceptical about the

cloth seats, because I just cannot wear white clothing: I would most probably

get it dirty within an hour. We will see how it goes as we bring you monthly


The LS model is powered by a ­16-valve, 1.6-litre engine with a

twincamshaft and variable valve-timing on both inlet and exhaust sides. Mated

with a five-speed manual transmission, it delivers 83kW of power and 153Nm of


The 1.6 model is also available in a lower specification model

known simply as “L”.

Although the L model is the entry- level model in the Cruze range,

it is packed with high-specification features such as 16-inch tyres and rims,

anti-lock braking system, a tilt­adjustable steering column, power- steering and

sports-type front seats, to name just a few.

The LS model, as well as the L, has colour-coded door handles and

bumpers, power windows and side mirrors and air-conditioner.

Features added to the LS model, as in our Lady Penelope, include

six airbags, front fog lamps and a triple-info graphic display.

The Cruze will battle it out with ­established models in this

segment such as the VW Jetta, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus and Hyundai


The new Cruze has characteristic features found on other cars in

the Chev stable. In fact it has similar traits to the little Aveo hatch and

­sedan, as well as the Lumina SS. I like to think of the Cruze as an Aveo that

is all grown-up and aspiring to be like the big-daddy Lumina SS sedan.

Distinctive features such as the characteristic Chevrolet front

light clusters emphasise the bold lines and curves and remind me of the strong

Detroit muscle-car heritage.

The 16-inch standard alloy wheels have a simple design and fit

neatly into the broad wheel arches.

The entry-level 1.6 L model is priced at R174?192, while the 1.6 LS

costs ­R186?126. The car comes with a five-year/120?000km warranty with

unlimited anti-corrosion cover during that period.

Service intervals are 15?000km or once a year. A

three-year/60?000km service plan is part of the price.


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