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Old 17th August 2012, 13:51   #1
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2012 Chevrolet Cruze : Official Review

The 2012 Chevrolet Cruze has been launched in India at a price of between Rs. 13.85 - 15.67 Lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you’ll like:

• Funky exterior & interior styling
• Well-rounded 164 BHP engine is fast, refined & efficient. Turbo-lag is greatly reduced
• Loaded with equipment (sunroof, keyless entry & go, electric driver's seat, cruise control, rain sensing wipers etc.)
• Good reliability, as proven by the many Team-BHP ownership reviews
• Competitively priced. Variant to variant, the Cruze is priced at the low end of the D1 segment

What you won’t:

• The 2,000 rpm turbo kick of the older car is gone. Power delivery is tamer now
• Rear seat comfort is inferior to all direct competitors
• Mediocre interior quality. Just doesn't feel premium enough
• Not as dynamically accomplished as the Europeans
• Lousy JK Vectra OEM tyres & weak headlamps. An upgrade for both is mandatory

NOTE: Click any picture to open a larger higher-resolution version in a new window
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Old 17th August 2012, 13:51   #2
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Re: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze : Official Review

This report will ONLY focus on the 2012 updates, since the Chevrolet Cruze has already been reviewed by Team-BHP. For easy reference, here are direct links to the complete Chevrolet Cruze Review:

Exterior Design & Build Quality

Interior design, space, practicality & features

Suspension & Brakes

Other Pertinent Points

The Smaller yet Significant Things
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Old 17th August 2012, 13:51   #3
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Re: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze : Official Review

Absolutely no exterior changes at all. Why not? Chevrolet could easily have given visual enhancements to the 2012 Cruze to differentiate it from the earlier model:

Pundits have always insisted that you need to have a premium angle to your brand for success in the million+ rupee car segment. They were proven right too; Maruti & Hyundai have a long list of failures in the Rs. 15 - 20 lakh price band. The Vitara, Kizashi, previous-gen Elantra, Sonata, Tucson etc. ended up as market duds. More recently, Tata's ambitious Aria also fell flat on its face. The pundits rejoiced at their theory being validated. Then, the Chevrolet Cruze came and shut them up.

From a brand best known for the Rs. 3 lakh Spark, the Cruze took the fight straight to the segment leader, the Toyota Corolla. For 2 quarters in 2011, the Cruze outsold its Japanese rival to claim the no. 1 spot in the D1 sedan category. The Laura, Civic and Jetta aren't even close on the sales chart. The Cruze's trick lies in a combination of funky styling, great pricing, fast & efficient engine and loaded equipment levels. The 2012 car now offers even more power & equipment. On the downside, the cramped back seat - a perennial owner complaint - hasn't been improved.

The 2012 Cruze's kerb weight has gone up by 17 kilos to 1,537. This is primarily down to the new engine and 6-speed gearbox. The LT variant is now far better equipped and gets a full MID, pure keyless entry & engine start / stop button, tilt & telescopic steering, 6-way adjustable electric driver's seat and front foglamps. In fact, when it comes to features, the new LT variant is nearly on par with the older LTZ variant. For about Rs. 90,000 more (ex-showroom), the LTZ adds a sunroof, leather upholstery, electric folding & heated ORVMs, rear parking assist, automatic wipers, cruise control, bluetooth-streaming ICE and an auto dimming inside mirror. The Automatic gearbox option is only available on the LTZ trim. The LT variant is well-equipped by itself, yet I do feel that the LTZ is worth the extra money.

With these updates, prices have gone up by Rs. 1 lakh for the LT trim level and Rs. 30,000 for the LTZ. Only the Hyundai Elantra mid-variant is cheaper than the 2012 Cruze. For the LTZ & AT, Chevy holds the price trump card:
2012 Chevrolet Cruze : Official Review-chevrolet-cruze-price-comparo.png

Specifications Comparo:
2012 Chevrolet Cruze : Official Review-chevrolet-cruze-specs-comparo.png

Last edited by GTO : 17th August 2012 at 15:15.
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Old 17th August 2012, 13:51   #4
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Re: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze : Official Review

So, what's new on the inside?

The Chevrolet Cruze left the awful grey interiors behind in 2011. Black + silver accents look far better:

New 6-Speed Gearbox:

6-way electric seat adjustment, but the backrest is adjusted manually. Seat height adjust is excellent; you can move only the front of the seat up, or the entire seat:

The '09 Cruze had a 6-CD changer. In the 2011 upgrade, the Cruze's ICE got bluetooth compatibility, but lost the changer (single cd only). You can stream music via bluetooth now. The info screen looks terribly outdated:

The LT variant is now equipped with tilt & reach adjustable steering (previously an LTZ feature):

New speakers are of a remarkably superior variety. Sound quality is much improved over the older Cruze. I doubt too many owners would seek an after-market upgrade:

Driver's window gets one-touch up & pinch-guard functionality:

Useful dead pedal is standard on the 2012 Cruze:

Contrary to popular opinion, we saw no perceptible difference in the rear headroom; it's still limited. Notice the clearance from Ghostrider's head in the old Cruze...

...and the new. Overall rear seat comfort is more C2 segment than D1. The Altis, Fluence & Jetta are better suited to being chauffeur-driven:

The needles give you a salute...a full sweep of the dial, each time you start the Cruze. This feature was present in the 2011 Cruze too:

The ol' Cruze had an AQS (air quality sensor) button which makes the climate control automatically switch to recirculation mode when it sensed foul air (e.g. exhaust fumes). Not in the new Cruze:

A useful feature - 60:40 folding rear seat - has been removed from the 2012 Cruze (it was there in the '09 Cruze):

Last edited by GTO : 17th August 2012 at 15:19.
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Old 17th August 2012, 13:52   #5
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Re: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze : Official Review

You've got to hand it to Chevy for frequently updating their cars. In the 3 years since launch, the Chevrolet Cruze received black interiors (last year), had the turbo-lag of the older engine reduced (last year) and now, more power & equipment. In the same time period, the Beat was the recipient of an upgraded petrol engine and a new diesel engine. The Tavera also got a new powerplant under its hood, while the Captiva was recently revamped.

This is GM's FAM Z 2.0L diesel. So, what's new?

• 16 additional BHP of peak power (@ 200 rpm earlier) and 53 Nm more peak torque (@ 600 rpm earlier).
• Engine displacement has increased from 1,991cc to 1998cc.
• Chain-driven double overhead camshafts (DOHC) over the belt-driven single overhead camshaft.
• Fuel injection at up to 1,800 bar (max pressure earlier was 1,600 bar).
• Dual mass flywheel.
• Perfectly square bore / stroke spec of 86 x 86 mm (older engine was 83 x 92 mm).
• Turbo-charger has been positioned differently. It's been moved to the front for a more efficient output.
• Engine mounts & overall NVH have been worked upon.
• New cylinder head port design for increased air flow and variable swirl control by incorporating Cobra-shaped intake ports.

The new motor is a lot more practical to live with. As Tsk1979’s original review had indicated, the earlier Cruze was dreadful in traffic due to its aggressive clutch and an engine that was practically dead below 2,000 rpm. One of the reasons you buy a diesel is the low-end torque & lugging ability; this was completely missing in the earlier Cruze.

The spread of torque is far superior in the updated engine. The accelerator just feels so much more responsive within the city, in the exact same conditions that the older car felt dull. You can play in traffic right from 1,500 rpm and up with the FAM Z engine. At this stage, the turbo obviously hasn’t completely woken up, but there is enough torque to navigate through urban areas. At 1,800 rpm, you can feel the turbo start tugging. It is important to mention that the new engine makes peak torque a full 600 rpm earlier. In a typical city situation at 30 kph, BHPian Ghostrider’s 2011 Cruze took nearly 2 seconds to respond. On the other hand, the 2012 Cruze responded in about half a second. You simply don’t need to drop a gear as often with the new engine, and neither is the 2012 Cruze frustrating in traffic. Driveability is now acceptable and Cruze owners won't be complaining anymore. Still, even though turbo-lag has greatly reduced, in-city behaviour isn’t as competent as the Jetta. The Chevy diesel isn't as forgiving as the VW engine.

Owners of the older Cruze will complain that the 2,000 rpm whoosh is gone, but don’t listen to them. Yes, when the turbo kicks in, the new Cruze is nowhere as volatile as the older car was. Ghostrider offered a great analogy; think of it as the difference between the turbo's behaviour of the old Swift & the new. Floor the accelerator and the Cruze uses all of its 164 horses to push you back into the seat, albeit not with the same ferocity as before. For such a powerful engine driving the front wheels, the torque steer is remarkably well controlled. The engine is extremely free-revving, all the way to its max rpm of 4,800. Acceleration is strong well beyond the 1.5 ton mark. In terms of fun, and how the engine feels, this is as good as it gets in the D1 segment. The mid-range packs a punch and, as a result, overtaking is as easy as point & shoot. The Cruze can effortlessly maintain high speed all day on the expressway, and easily keep up with the more expensive C-Class and 3 Series as well. The new engine is as much a highway mile muncher as before. 100 km/h in 6th gear sees the rpm needle at slightly below 1,700 rpm (just like the older engine), while 120 kph is at 1,950 rpm.

What’s equally impressive is the NVH insulation. The 2012 Cruze is supremely refined in all driving conditions. Whether at high rpm or low, the engine remains one of the smoothest diesels in the segment. Vibrations & engine noise are well controlled. Due to the refinement and power on tap, the car's long distance touring ability is fabulous. The gear-throw isn’t suited to the well-rounded engine though. I wish the shifts were closer, like the VW group’s short throw boxes. Shift action is fairly light in the first 4 gears. BHPian N.S.X. says that the clutch is easier to use than that of his VW Jetta. No, it’s not a light, effortless clutch at all, but neither is it a deal breaker anymore.

Due to the lesser lag, expect the fuel efficiency to be higher. In areas other than the engine though, the Cruze didn’t impress the enthusiast in me. The steering is vague, the dynamics strictly average and the interior quality far from the segment benchmark. Then, there is the compromised back seat. The engine really brings the Cruze the fan following that it enjoys, reminding me in some ways of the fan club of the 1st generation Honda City Vtec.


• Big shout out to Ghostrider for his immensely valuable comments as an owner of the older Cruze.
• Thanks to Rehaan & Parrys for additional points & pictures.

Last edited by GTO : 17th August 2012 at 15:18.
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Old 17th August 2012, 15:27   #6
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An owner's perspective.

It's been said (mostly by my wife) that 'car people' are some of the most dreary and boring people on the planet. I have to agree with her. Put a few of us in a room and we'll bore the rest of the people to tears.
So, with an aim to be less dreary, my post is split up into (a) the usual detailed narrative and (b) a short summary for those of you with attention deficit disorder.

Here's the short version:
  • GTO called.
  • Comparative review for new Cruze.
  • Hell yes!!
  • Friday morning. Worli seaface. Very rainy.
  • What you'll like:
    • New FAM-Z engine is MUCH easier to drive in traffic
    • Slicker 6-speed shifter
    • Turbo lag reduced
    • Dead pedal! Yay!
    • More patella-friendly clutch
    • New 'premium' speakers have better midrange and midbass
    • Electric driver's seat adjustment
  • What you won't:
    • No more whooooosh once the turbo kicks in
    • GM lied, rear seat's the same.
SUMMARY: Your left leg will thank GM, your heart won't.

And now here's the long, boring version.

Take a look at the exterior, and it's the same story. There's absolutely nothing distinguishing the old Cruze from the new one on the outside. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Check out some of the pics (the black one's mine) and if you find a single difference between the two, treat's on me. If you ask me, GM missed a massive trick by not bringing in the facelifted body. What would it have cost them to throw in some low-cost after-market LED DRLs? At the very least, they should have introduced some new colour choices so that newer model owners can distinguish visually themselves from the older lot.
Marketing fail.

CHAPTER ONE: The Interiors
Get in the driver's seat, and everything is instantly familiar if you've driven the LTZ (LT owners will notice a few changes in the newer model). The leather seats, trim levels and equipment list, right down to the sunglasses holder above the driver's head are all out of the existing LTZ. Everything's the same.

Or is it?

I reach for the seat adjustment lever and I'm fumbling to find it under the squab. GTO sees my perplexed expression and yells from outside the car - "It's electric now." Ah. Nice touch. The controls are the typical controls you find in most electrically adjustable seats now, with the usual range of adjustment.
And then your eye goes to the shifter. It's the same, but it now sports a 6 on the face. Nice! Reverse is now on the extreme left, alongside first.
Other than this, there's no changes on the inside at all. I'm not complaining, I'm a fan of the existing Cruze interiors. So far, so good.

CHAPTER TWO: Engine and gearbox

GTO gets into my Cruze, and I take the new one. Engage clutch, hit the starter button and the engine churns over with the typical diesel thrum, except that the thrum's now a little softer and more refined.
I also instantly realize that the aggressive clutch return action that a lot of people didn't like is now gone. Well, not gone. Greatly reduced, actually. So far, so good. I grin.
And then the grin's gone, because when I engage first and give it some throttle, I realize that the surge of acceleration I'm used to from 1500 rpm's gone too. GTO mentioned that GM's given first gear a much shorter ratio in this car. Ok, no problem. Let's give it some gas and get into second.
What the...??!! It's the same story in second gear - the sheer grunt of the old VM Motori engine's missing in the new car. Lets try third.

The surge is relentless and the gearing's pretty tall, which means you can potter around in slow traffic at 30kph and then when the urge takes you, you can floor it all the way to it's 5,000 rpm redline and you'll be doing about 150. What's impressive is the way it gets you there - it's just a continuous surge you'll feel all the way till 150 or 160. Nice.
Engage fourth, move upto fifth, and then slot it into 6th (which feels like a true overdrive gear).
The gearshift's also slicker in the new Cruze - it's better damped and the throws are smoother, but what you may not like is the horizontal throw between the gears - it's continues to be a little too long. The vertical throw's nice and short, but overall it's not as slick as the 'box in the Jetta.

In the real world, though, is where you'll see the biggest difference. In mid-2011 (around the time GM came out with the black interiors and added a USB port) they also fiddled with the ECU and turbo settings to try and make it more tractable. So instead of 1800-1900rpm like in earlier cars, Cruzes that were made after mid-2011 started providing boost after 1450-1500 rpm. It was better, but still far from perfect.
With this new FAM-Z engine, the turbo lag's better still. It's still not the zero-lag experience you see in cars like the Micra or the Vento or the Jetta, but it's much better indeed. What this means is a more responsive throttle, which in turn means fewer gear changes.
Another benefit of the new FAM-Z engine and the improved clutch is the off-throttle behavior. In bumper-to-bumper traffic in my car if I engage first and start coming off the clutch without any throttle input, the car still lurches forward, which means I have to sometimes immediately re-engage the clutch and tap the brake to avoid hitting the car in front of me. As you can imagine, this can be annoying at times.
The new model setup goes a long way in addressing this. If you come off the clutch with no throttle, it doesn't lurch forward anymore like an unruly bull... instead, its a more subdued momentum that's easy to control. So you'll be less stressed out in bumper to bumper traffic and your blood pressure will be lower and consequently you'll live a longer, happier and healthier life.

CHAPTER THREE: Ride and Handling.
The suspension's the same. It's still riding on the same suspension setup as the older car, so there's no difference whatsoever. Don't let anyone tell you differently.

CHAPTER FOUR : Boys and their toys
There's no changes to the insides in terms of the trim level on the LTZ, other than a (very welcome) dead pedal and the fact that the driver's window is now one-touch up as well as down. The biggest change though was the sound quality from the built-in entertainment system - the new 'premium' speakers offer a lot more midbass and midrange.

I guess I'd say that the most popular choice in the D1 segment is now a little bit better.

But it's also a little bit worse.

The reason I bought my Cruze over a, say, Laura TDi (which is also a very fine car) is because of the sheer joy I get from driving it. When you get past 1500 rpm and you put your foot down in the previous model, you feel like you've been hit in the back by a wrecking-ball - the older model goes (to quote GTO) like a scalded cat.
It's this surge of acceleration that's been greatly reduced in the newer model - replaced by a more civilized, mature character that still retains it's strong points, but is now a slightly tamer beast.
Don't get me wrong... it's still extremely quick. In-gear acceleration will definitely be quicker in the new car thanks to the improved turbo-lag, and now with a 6th cog the Cruze may reach a higher top speed too, but you won't have as much fun getting there. That wrecking-ball feeling I talked about earlier? It's been massively tamed, replaced with a more spread out, linear surge.

It's sort of like Andre Agassi, if you ask me. In it's younger days, a riot of excessive and obnoxious behavior that made you laugh put a smile on your face. As it's aged it's become more mature, more civilized and a more complete performer, but the beast's been tamed a little bit. Whether you feel that this makes the car better or worse will boil down to your driving preferences and your driving circumstances, I guess.

Me? I prefer Andre in his younger days.

Last edited by GTO : 17th August 2012 at 15:40.
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Old 17th August 2012, 16:03   #7
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Re: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze : Official Review

I think reduced turbo lag is more important and rewarding in the longer run than the kick in the back at 2000 RPM. I felt the same when I drove the Laura TSi and the Octavia TPi back to back...The new Cruze will not catch the driver off guard in the ghats when you try to take off on the incline after getting stuck behind a crawling truck, etc.

BTW, how about the AT?

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Old 17th August 2012, 16:08   #8
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Re: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze : Official Review

Originally Posted by anandpadhye View Post
I think reduced turbo lag is more important and rewarding in the longer run than the kick in the back at 2000 RPM. I felt the same when I drove the Laura TSi and the Octavia TPi back to back...The new Cruze will not catch the driver off guard in the ghats when you try to take off on the incline after getting stuck behind a crawling truck, etc.

BTW, how about the AT?

The kick in the back actually happens at about 1500 rpm as well in the older Cruze, but what's been reduced is the lag before 1500rpm. Overall, the newer engine's more responsive.

Changes are felt less in the AT than in the MT because:

a) The AT was already a 6-speed.
b) With kick-down mode turbo lag doesn't manifest as often.

But the other attributes GTO mentioned (improved NVH, some new toys) etc hold true.

Last edited by ghostrider : 17th August 2012 at 16:10.
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Old 17th August 2012, 16:12   #9
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Re: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze : Official Review

Refreshing review as always. Would have loved to see some differentiating changes in the exterior. There would be no way to identify the new Cruze even when spotted on the roads.

How would you rate the AT box in this 2012 Cruze? Does the new engine make the AT box a pleasure to drive? The old AT was quite a bummer if I recall some of the reviews.

Good to see changes made to the clutch and the turbo behaviour at lower speeds. The analogy with the Swift seems to be correct as far as turbo whoosh is concerned. The torque increase propels the Cruze to the top of the torque ladder in the D segment. Can imagine what tuning box would do to the numbers!

At the price point, I see the Elantra competing with the Cruze; the Cruze with the superior engine while Elantra with all bells and whistles. The Altis D now sounds like a joke at the price and engine on offer.
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Old 17th August 2012, 16:22   #10
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Re: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze : Official Review

BSM have compared the 2012 Cruze with the Jetta & have found the former to be as competent, though losing out eventually to the Jetta overall score, but surely a VFM over the latter for nearly 3 lacs difference in the price. Here is the comparo article:

IMO there should be a good petrol unit as well, maybe the 1.4L Turbopetrol that they have launched elsewhere, but not in India.
Or a good old naturally aspirated big block engine... more like the smaller 4-cylinder engines that they have in US on small cars, to meet demand of petrol-heads, who prefer the pricey fuel driven mean monsters.

Last edited by CARDEEP : 17th August 2012 at 16:34.
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Old 17th August 2012, 16:23   #11
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Re: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze : Official Review

Great review & comparision. My dad has a Cruze LTZ 2011 and is mostly driven by his driver in a town with not so wider roads. The new car would have been better for him.
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Old 17th August 2012, 16:26   #12
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Re: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze : Official Review

As an old Optra owner, I was invited to the launch of Cruze a couple of years back. Three things disappointed me then -

1) Lack of dead pedal
2) Hard plastics everywhere (Optra LT has soft touch plastics on dash & door pads)
3) Rear head room

Looks like they managed to sort out issue number (1) so far in all these years!

Last edited by SmartCat : 17th August 2012 at 16:27.
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Old 17th August 2012, 16:26   #13
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Re: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze : Official Review

Thanks for the review GTO and ghostrider.

Is the Hyundai Elantra bothering GM now? A mid-life change to the Cruze, to address some "issues". Issues that are issues for some, and really a boon for others (like ghostrider pointed out). The clutch feel was a problem to most. The turbo lag was too.
But the nice kick from the turbo wasn't a problem to many.

A move meant to probably make the Cruze attractive to a wider variety of people, no doubt.

The turbo-kick fans are going to probably walk away though.

And I agree. Chevy should have done something to make the exteriors different. That beautiful E-class type LED tail lamp assembly would've really worked wonders naa?

Cheers and drive safe.
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Old 17th August 2012, 16:53   #14
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Re: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze : Official Review

Thanks for the great review GTO and ghostrider. Its good to see the electrically adjustable driver seat on the LT variant. The display screen indeed looks and feels old as compared to the competition. Its true that Chevrolet have been updating their cars quite often but it would have been great if the new Cruze had some cosmetic changes too so that it could be distinguished from the older version.
The only thing which I didnt like in this update is that the Chevrolet guys didnt pay attention to the continuous complains about the rear seat discomfort and the issue still exists in the 2012 Cruze
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Old 17th August 2012, 16:56   #15
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Re: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze : Official Review

Thanks GTO and Ghostrider for the wonderful side-by-side comparison of the Old vs. New Cruze.

Those couple of posts was like a quick summary for anyone looking to understand if old or new is good. Overall, wonderful changes to the new Cruze especially on the gizmo front where they moved majority of it to the base version. What left me disappointed is the zilch attention to its exterior.

In my opinion, they could have given a thought on following cosmetic changes :-

a) Better headlight design
b) Bit more devilish fog lamps design with some changes to fog lamp exteriors too

c) Biggest design change they could have done was to the rear lamps. That's what i dont like the most in this almost perfect looking sedan

d) Introduce a few funky colors. Especially the WCC blue which is there in my avataar picture and is similar to the Fiesta S. I absolutely love this color

In the process of improving the clutch action and addition of gizmos, they should have tried to retain that feeling when turbo kicks in as that's when you generally have a grin on your face. As that feeling is non-existent now, using same analogy of Ghostrider, its like Andre Agassi losing all his glorious mane and taking to the road with his bald pate. Will you recognize him? I won't

Me? Well, after reading this review, I am so glad that I bought the older version as it never fails to make me grin each and every single day and i paid way too less too than what it costs now. I am not at all complaining !!!

P.S: I reckon its time to head to the Racing Dynamics dealer to ward off the onslaught of the increased BHP of the new Cruze
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