The cars we loved.
A lot of attention has been given to the upcoming Volt, but the real bread and butter company saver for GM is the Cruze. Although new to Americans, the Cruze has been around since 2001 in some form or another in Asia and Europe. GM’s partial ownership of Daewoo has led to a collaboration that has produced rebadged Daewoo cars for Chevrolet in Europe and Holden in Australia.
It’s probally a good thing that Chevrolet wants us to forget about the small Suzuki built SUV sold from 2001 to 08 as a Cruze. It was quite the ugly little truck. As a car, the Cruze name is all new to North Americans, although Daewoo sold a four door sedan called the Forenza and a sporty hatchback version called the Reno that were the basis for previous Cruze cars in Europe.
The second generation car will replace the unloved Chevrolet Cobalt and Daewoo will get a version to replace it’s Forenza in the US. A hatchback version will be sold by Holden in Australia, but at this writing no word on if it will be sold in America. In keeping with its ongoing trend of building cars on world platforms, the Cruze is based on the GM Delta II platform, also the basis for various Opels and Saturns. The engineering collaboration of the Cruize ‘s development is impressive, with design and engineering teams stretched out from the US, UK, China, South Korea and Sweden. The production is just a s disperse being produced in factories from locations a humble as Lordstown OH to Saint Petersburg Russia.
The Cruze is a considerable leap forward compared to the frumpy looking Colbolt. The design look more expensive than it is and is slightly larger than the Colbalt. The Cruz was released to positive reviews in Europe where it’s been on sale for almost a year. Over there, a 1.6, 1.8 gasoline and a 2.0 L diesel engine is offered. There are other engine sizes in Asia, including a 1.4 L direct injection 4 cylinder. Although not consider a high performance car, the 150 hp diesel engine was said to offer lots of torque and is relatively smooth. Unfortunately, the smaller engines were called weak and unresponsive by Motor Trend in a recent review.
In America where everything is bigger, it stands to reason that the engine line up will differ slightly from Europe. Both 1.4 and 1.8 L direct injection engines will be offered, but the smaller one will be turbocharged and coupled with a six speed manual or automatic transmission. At 150 hp, it won’t be a rocket, but GM claims highway mileage in the lower 30’s which should be impressive for a car of this size. The larger engine will make 138 hp. So far Chevrolet has not mentioned a SS model to replace the surprisingly good Colbalt SS. The Turbocharged 2.0 Echotech engine in that car is closely related to the 1.4 in the Cruze. My guess is that Chevy wants to get the basics right and produce a high volume car that will compete and compare favorably to the Civics, Corollas and Elantras of the world.
It’s only a matter of time before we know if the Cruze will actually deliver on GM’s promise of a true import fighter. If Chevorlet’s success with the new Malibu is any indication, than the future for the Cruze should be bright indeed.