Chevrolet Cruze Review

It’s that special time in the motoring calendar for Paris motorshow once again.  Two years ago the focus was on Ford launching the KA, this time round Chevrolet get to show off their tail feathers since spreading their wings and flying free from the GM nest.

So what better way to test the new and improved Chevrolet brand than to drive the Cruze saloon from Cheltenham to Paris, then back again.

You may remember us doing the same trip earlier in June, and after doing it in an E-Class convertible, I wasn’t afraid of the mammoth mileage or length of time it took, but rather somewhat apprehensive as to how comfortable the trip would be in a car that costs just over £15k, compared to the £50k luxury convertible.  This, it turned out was the least of my worries; because the Cruze happens to be one of the most comfortable cars I’ve driven on a long journey, in a long time.

The 2.0litre diesel auto we tested was a top of the range Cruze with all the bells and whistles.  17” wheels and chrome highlights gives the Cruze a nice touch to the already sporting look it has for a saloon, which with minimal exterior options is a small added extra you can’t really ignore.  But where the Cruze really does impress is inside - steering wheel mounted controls, stereo with auxiliary and MP3 compatibility, electric everything and aluminium everywhere.  Finally our car had a £765 cost option Sat Nav.

Now remember me saying I was worried about how comfortable the drive might be, being the least of my worries?   Well, at the cost of £765 the Sat Nav caused me more distress than anything – the worst part being that it was my own stupid fault, so I can’t even blame the car…

When preparing a car for European travel – make sure you not only have the required fire extinguisher, high-visibility vests and light converters, but also be sure you’ve put the right disc in for the Sat Nav, so it knows where it’s going when it hits French soil.  This happens to be a little detail I obviously forgot, because although it was able to tell me the major freeways, when we drove into Paris itself (after dancing through the streets with the music pumping), we realised this is where we needed it the most.

Round the bustling streets of Paris, and driving along the River Seine is a pleasure in the Chevrolet Cruze and even after a long drive, you aren’t left feeling tired or worn out - perfect for admiring the beautiful surrounds.  But when you’re tasked with beeping, gesturing angrily at others and being told where to go by your other half, who’s amazed at how accurate the ‘Paris Map – Map of Paris streets 2010’ is to the real thing, the scenery is the last thing on your mind.  Needless to say the Cruze dealt with tight steering and bus battling well, and the gearbox is responsive when you need it to be, reaching 0-62mph in a sweet 8.7seconds.

Fast forward a couple of days, after spending most of our time on our feet attempting to be in 3 places at once, the Cruze was a welcome sight – representing comfort, effortless driving and an end to another great motorshow.  Jumping back in, we set off to take a couple of extra days out for ourselves and found ourselves once again on the freeway, relaxing and simply enjoying the ride.  The Cruze isn’t only a very comfortable ride, but also very capable recording around 45-50mpg on average, without us having to drive particularly ‘eco’ to achieve.  Coasting down the freeways is effortless and sweeping bends are an absolute joy.

Overall, for a compact saloon the Cruze is something of a little gem.  The benefit it has over competitors, like the Focus and Mazda3 saloons, is that it looks like it was designed to be a saloon, as opposed to sticking a boot onto the rear of the hatch with some Duct tape and a prayer.  But Chevrolet hasn’t been altogether silly with it, as the Cruze is going to get a hatchback derivative too – and it looks very promising.