As part of its new small-car strategy, GM plans three significant launches under the Chevrolet brand over the next three years, the first of which is the Chevrolet Cruze, replacing the current Cobalt. Launched in Europe a year ago, GM reports initial success with the Cruze, despite the fact that it is a sedan in a hatchback-happy continent.
We got the opportunity to drive a European spec Cruze after the Geneva auto show, as a preview of the model that will be coming to the U.S. later this year. Body style, suspension, and interior appointments were basically the same as the U.S. car, but our car's turbocharged 2-liter diesel engine won't be available here in the States.
Instead, expect a turbocharged 1.4-liter gasoline engine, which should get about 40 mpg and produce 138 horsepower, on the LT model, and a 1.8-liter naturally aspirated gasoline engine in the Cruze LS. Chevrolet will offer six-speed manual and automatic transmissions in the Cruze, as opposed to the five-speed manual we saw in our European spec Cruze.
We met our test drive car in the Swiss town of Gruyere, where they make the cheese, after having driven up there from Geneva in the Chevy Spark, one of the other small cars on Chevy's agenda. Unlike the Spark, which had overt style, the Cruze depends on a more homogeneous appearance, a look that will blend in with all the Toyotas, Nissans, Mazdas, and Fords in the commuter lanes.
The Cruze does well representing the modern, small sedan, and the grille treatment, the single bar wearing the Chevy bow tie across the front, makes it look like a down-sized Malibu. Probably the greatest success of the design is in making a small car look big. … Read more