2008 Paris Auto Show: 2011 Chevrolet Cruze
Chevrolet may be a big name in America, but except for the Chevy Corvette, Europeans have barely noticed the marque...until now. The Chevy Cruze, GM's world car replacement for the unloved Cobalt, is set for sale in over 100 countries around the world. At the Paris auto show, the Cruze drew plenty of attention because of its aggressive looks and wide stance. When it goes on sale in Europe next March, the Cruze will be powered by 1.6-liter and 1.8-liter gas engines and a 2.0-liter turbodiesel. We think it's got the look of success.
Why it Matters
Corvair, Vega, Monza, Chevette, Cavalier, Cobalt; what do these six cars have in common? With the exception of maybe the Cobalt, these are all Chevrolet compacts you drive because that's what life calls for, not because you want to. With the Cruze, Chevrolet might finally have a compact car you'd actually put towards the top of your consideration list because you like the way it looks, not because someone ruined your credit. With the Cruze, it's not about downsizing your car, it's about rightsizing.
What it Looks Like
The Chevrolet Cruze looks slightly angry, like someone drove it in the cold without warming up the engine first (cars get really annoyed when you do that). We like the aggression though, and it’s a massive improvement over the Cobalt, which looks like a sleepy sock puppet. The rear has a premium look to it with flush, sculpted tail lights. The Chevrolet Cruze interior is really what will blow people away. It's equal to or much better than pretty much everything out there in the compact market right now, and a massive leap forward compared to Chevrolet compacts of past. With a prominent LCD screen, colored fabric on the doors, dash, and seats, and attractive gauges, the Cruze looks like it has the potential to be a high value automobile.
2011 Chevrolet Cruze" src="http://img.autobytel.com/car-reviews/autobytel/digital-assets/AutoShows/2008ParisAutoShow/2011_Chevrolet_Cruze400.jpg" alt="2011 Chevrolet Cruze" />
What's Under the Skin
GM has officially announced that the Chevrolet Cruze will be powered by a 1.4-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 140-horseower and 148 lb-ft of torque, with mileage estimates around 40 miles per gallon. This is related to the engine that will be found in the Chevrolet Volt.
What We Think
There used to be a time when you could compete in North America with second-rate compact cars and get away with it. The average Chevrolet buyer was driving off dealer lots with two Tahoes, one for odd days and one for evens. Now that dealers are having more trouble selling SUVs to shoppers than sand to a nomadic tribe, having a stellar compact in their portfolio is more crucial than ever. We think the Cruze will fill that role way better than the current Cobalt, which is already selling well regardless, and we just wish the Cruze was coming to the States sooner than 2010. Honda Civic, you have been warned.
By Elliot Darvick and Greg Brown
Photo credit: Greg Brown