Few cars have changed as dramatically as Chevrolet’s compact Cruze. The second-generation model was introduced just last year, amid a market with plenty of excellent small cars including the also-new Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra. The range is already set to expand with the addition of an all-new body style: a hatchback.
Directly targeting the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, the Cruze Hatch offers the sedan’s striking and sporty front-end mated to a raked roof line and a distinctive rear end with wraparound lights. Chevy has done a fine job with the details, which include a standard hatch-topping rear spoiler, and when equipped with the optional RS package, 18-inch wheels, and a subtle aero kit.
Although style plays a big part of the Cruze’s appeal, it’s a practical and well-rounded model. There’s significantly more interior space than the outgoing model, particularly for rear-seat passengers, not to mention more rear legroom than the Ford Focus or Hyundai Elantra. Trunk space is a very reasonable 419 L, with the Hatch offering up 524 L which can be further expanded to 1,336 L with the rear seats folded.
With a cabin that shares many design cues with the Volt and the snazzy new Malibu, the Cruze impresses with a unique style that’s modern yet intuitive. The prominent 7.0- or 8.0-inch MyLink infotainment system offers class-exclusive Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, plus a standard reverse camera even on the base level vehicle. Those willing to spend a little extra can have a Cruze decked out with French-stitched interior upholstery, leather, heated front and rear seats, and even a heated steering wheel.
Another area the Cruze impresses is in the area of gadgetry and active safety. Everything from 4G-LTE, to a connectivity app for your smartphone, wireless charging, to blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, and collision warning can be fitted to the compact.
All Cruzes feature a 1.4-litre turbocharged and direct-injected four cylinder which produces 153 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque, which drives through either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic, the latter of which can be had with an engine idle-stop system. Though 2017 fuel economy ratings have yet to be released, the 2016 was rated at 7.8 L/100 km city, 5.6 L/100 km highway – which undercuts all of its key non-hybrid rivals.
Those looking to go further on fewer litres of fuel might wish to consider the Cruze Diesel, which makes a return for 2017. The only turbodiesel compact car still available, it will be available in the fall of 2016. More details will come closer to its launch.
Competitively equipped and priced, the Cruze is available in four trims: L, LS, LT, and Premier. The Hatch targets buyers with higher aspirations and deeper pockets; it’s only available in LT and Premier trims.