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Old 18th March 2011, 23:15   #1
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Default Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)

Choosing to Cruze

I finally took delivery of my White Cruze LTZ AT on 11th March 2011 after a longish wait of almost 1.5 months planning, analysing alternatives and arranging finances.
My previous car was a Verna XXI ABS Petrol and I had no caused for regret except that considering my driving distances (Avg of 60KM per day), I should have taken a Diesel. The Verna was 3.5 years old and had done 72,000 kms and was starting to have a mid-life crisis starting with having to change the timing belt, clutch belt, power steering belt and then finally a mileage drop to 7.5kmpl.
I finally decided to bite the bullet and change my car.

My first plan was to go in for the Vento Highline Diesel since I was still looking in the range of 10-11 lakhs. The Vento unfortunately had at that time a waiting period of 6-8 months and I was pretty sure I couldnít wait that long so I started looking for alternatives. The only other car I believed could take on the Vento Diesel in terms of performance was the Chevy Optra Magnum. So off I went for a test drive of both the Vento and the Optra. The Vento was noisy and compared to the Optra sluggish.
The Optra drove and handled beautifully but failed miserably in the looks department. While I was there I saw the Cruze and decided to take it for a spin. I had always admired the Cruze but, didnít think about it because of the price range. So even after taking the test drive, falling head over heels for the car I was still evaluating the Vento vs the Optra.

Since I was at the dealers fairly often looking at the Optra, I noticed that the Cruze LT was 14.5 lakhs and started considering it. That was all it took. Once I had started considering the Cruze, The Vento and the Optra fell by the wayside and suddenly I was comparing the Cruze, The Jetta and the Laura.

Initial reactions when I test drove all 3 cars were as follows
Jetta Highline Ė Solid, will not move off the road however much you try but terribly noisy cabin, price range standing between 16-19 lakhs and no Automatic Version. The car looked dated in terms of looks
Laura Elegance ManualĖ Solid, Felt much more powerful than the Jetta but unexciting looks both exteriors and interiors
Cruze LTZ Ė Sporty, a hell of a wallop on power, slight turbo lag upto 1800 rpm, lag visibly reduced on the AT version, tons of features and racy interiors but build quality (Read as plastics and not stability) not as great as the Laura or Jetta
An interesting comparison between all 3 is available on youtube here

So a quick recap/ Highlights of the Cruze LTZ AT specifications (For full specs go to Chevrolet Cruze LT, Chevrolet Cruze LTZ Specifications)
  • 2.0 Ltr Tiptronic 6 speed Automatic with 149 BHP at 4000 rpm and a max torque of 32.7KGm @2200rpm. All 4 disc brakes on Alloy wheels with Tyre size of 205/60 R16. ARAI Mileage at 14kmpl but closer to 10KMPL according to the dealer on Bangalore roads
  • All Grey Leather upholstery, power windows, in dash 6 CD changer, electrically adjustable ORVMs, Rear Parking assist, Rain sensitive Wiper System, Automatic Climate Control, Passive Entry with Push Button Start, Tilt & telescopic Steering wheel, Electric Sunroof
  • ABS, Dual Airbags, Fog Lamps, 4kmph Impact Proof Front & Rear Bumpers
  • Note that my Cruze was one of the last of the 2011 models before the new model has taken over in March. The prime differences in the new 2011 model is added Bluetooth, Ipod functionality, All Black Interiors and other minor cosmetic changes.

Buying the Cruze

Having decided to buy the Cruze I had a choice of Sundaram Motors and Trident Motors. Sundaram Motors at the time had only the 2010 Dec Model available and offered a Rs.20,000 Discount on this.
Trident Motors offered me a smaller discount but on a Feb 2011 Model which I preferred only from a future buy back/ re-sales advantage point of view. Both offered the standard accoutrements of free 3M Film, Floor mats, mud flaps.
My advantage with Trident was that they offered a better buy back for my Verna since they also deal with Hyundai and also since both my previous cars (A Santro and the Verna) was bought from them. So with the advantage of the higher buyback and the discount, I was getting an overall better net cost for the Cruze at Trident.

After I got the initial Proforma Invoice indicating the price from trident (Approximately 17.5 lakhs) which included 54,000 for Insurance and going up by an additional 11,000 if you wanted bumper to bumper cover (Add ons including Depreciation Cover). I had to have that negotiated and reduced.
I spoke to a few insurance agents directly and reached a price of 44,000/- from Bharti AXA agents. I then went online to check the costs with a few others and found that if you bought directly online with a Private Insurer you could get a much better deal. I finally narrowed down on Royal Sundaram where I got the car insured at Invoice Value with depreciation cover, Add on covers for legal liability and medical coverage of paid drivers, baggage loss, electric accessories worth Rs. 50,000 and a per diem cash payment to the insured for the duration that the car is in repair for alternate transport (Read as auto fare while your car is in the Garage). The whole of this cost me Rs. 31,000 which is a straight 50% reduction from the dealerís insurance costs.

The same way after shopping around for the best finance I was clear that the PSU offer a much better deal than private banks. The lowest I could get from a Private Bank was 11% on 90% of the Ex-showroom price for 5 years.
Canara bank was offering 10.5% on 90% of the on road price for 6 years and SBI was offering a loan on 85% of the on road price including Rs. 25,000 worth of accessories for 7 years. SBI interest rate was 9% for the 1st year, 10% for 2nd and 3rd year and 10.75% for the remaining years. This worked out to an average of 10 % approximately over your tenure and made this the most attractive option. (This works out to approximately Rs.1666/ lakh over a tenure of 7 years or Rs.2125 per lakh for 5 years)
SBI was fairly easy to deal with and after submission of all papers etc, the loan was disbursed within 3 days. The Demand draft along with my Down payment went straight to the dealer on the same day and approximately 10 days later I was driving out of the showroom with the Cruze.


I normally donít like to change too much from the OEM of a vehicle but felt that there were certain things I definitely needed to have and they were as follows
  • Bluetooth connectivity for my phone (I spend at least 3 hours a day in the car and a good portion of that on the phone)
  • Ipod/ USB Connectivity (Iím a big Music buff)
  • Reverse Camera for parking (The Cruze has only sensors and no camera. Iíd gotten used to a camera on my previous car)
  • GPS Navigation (32 years in Bangalore and I still get lost)
  • Better tyres/ Alloys (Nice to have or need to have?... More on that below)
I first looked at a MapmyIndia GPS PND which had built in Bluetooth features and had support for a reverse camera (Sold separately) and that costed circa Rs.20,000. The dealer then suggested a change in the head unit to Caska. Caska is a chinese brand (Donít let that fool you. Its top notch and works great). They build customized units for almost every brand of car in the USA and Europe apart from India

The Caska unit is built and sold specifically based on the make and model of the car. The Caska for the Cruze includes a 7Ē touch screen display which does not replace the OEM head unit but rather adds on and integrates nicely with it. It also has additionally a DVD player with SDCard, USB, Ipod, Bluetooth integration and Navigation. With the navigation you have the choice of Satguide or MapmyIndia. The unit integrates completely with the steering controls and you will never know that there is an additional unit in the car, either by dint of physical fitment as it fits perfectly into the Cruze and by operation as the integration is seamless. A full colour reverse camera (sold separately as an optional item) was also integrated to the unit So this unit which set me back by Circa Rs.50,000 took care of my 1st 4 needs. The one thing that annoys me about the Caska is that there is no voice levelling between the music players and the bluetooth audio. What typically happens is that when you receive a call, you tend to crank up the volume so you can hear the cller and when the call ends and the system returns to the music player (DVD, CD, FM or whatever) the volume is loud enough to hurt. You tend to get used to it and unconsiously turn the volume knob in the few seconds it takes to change from bluetooth mode to player mode.

Coming to the tyres/ wheels, I toyed with the idea of upsizing from R16 to R17, checked possibly every Alloy shop in Bangalore including PitStop (Veloche), Hot Wheels, Kumar Automobiles (AVA) and Shivshakti in JC road (Lenso, Lx, Enkei)
I extensively researched upsizing both on Team BHP and the links below can help. The knowledge base in these links is extensive and hence I will not elaborate on the method of choosing the right tyre size.

TYRESAVE: Tyre Size Calculator

Tire size calculator

I finally decided that I didnít want to spring for a new alloy since the Cruze OEM looked pretty good and I didnít find anything in the market that excited me enough. The ones that came close to exciting me were the Lenso Samurai SC09 and the AVA HS169 in Hypersilver.
However the tyres that come with the Cruze are JK Vectra 205/60 R16. I certainly did not want JK Vectra and decided to change the tyres. I also decided to increase the width for better cornering and moved to an Apollo Accelere Maxx 225/55 R16 which has the same sidewall size of 123mm as that of the OEM Tyre so there is no difference in ride comfort. The 225mm width gives me superb support at corners. I got the tyre dealer to buy back my JK Vectra in exchange for the Apollo + difference in cost. The Apollos cost Circa Rs.8500/- per and the JK Vectra Buy back is at Circa Rs 3500/-. A Michelin costs circa Rs.10,500/-
A word of advice though for everyone who is planning to upsize their tyres before taking delivery or around the same time. Start your homework and youíre sourcing at least 1 month in advance because the models you want arenít always available ex-stock.


11th March 2011. I finally take delivery of the Cruze. Send it straight to General Tyres to change the JK Vectras. The Caska is done by Trident itself. 12th March 2011 the car is all mine. Iíve been advised to restrict my speed to below 100Kmph till the first servicing. While most cars of this class come pre-run in, it is still advisable to maintain a run in period of close to 3000kms. The reason is that the engines are run in on a block by the manufacturers but, would ideally require a run in with the body so it can settle in with the weight of the car, different revs etc.
An interesting article on breaking in an engine can be found here

Break In Secrets--How To Break In New Motorcycle and Car Engines For More Power

So how does it feel to drive? One word Ė Exhilarating. The 150 BHP, 32.7KGM of torque really excels at pulling away from the rest of the competition. As reported in multiple reviews there is a turbo lag below 1800rpm but on the automatic it is hardly visible or I should more accurately say it is less visible. Give it a few days and you will not notice it at all unless you are also driving a Laura Manual (The Laura Automatic is terrible). Past the initial turbo lag and the car rockets away with more power than any other vehicle in its class which includes the Laura, Jetta and very easily the Corolla Altis Diesel (which is anyway no comparison)

But, Iím getting ahead of myself. Let me start with the entry. With the keyless entry (PEPS- Passive entry Passive Start as named by Chevrolet) getting into the car is as simple as walking upto it and pulling the door handle without touching the keys in your pocket. Interestingly, if you are near the driverís door, someone else cannot open the passenger door. Similarly if you are near the passenger door someone cannot enter the driverís door. Thatís great for security)

Once inside put your foot on the brake pedal, press the start button and the engine thrums to life with a very muted sound for a diesel. Itís easily the most silent of the diesel engines out there. Again, the car will not start unless the key is actually inside the car. So if you are standing near the drivers door and someone opens the door and tries to start the engine, it will not start since the key is not within the confines of the car. (Another great security feature). The car will sound an alarm if you shut the door with the keys inside and not let you lock it passively.

Taking a look around the cabin, the cockpit is designed beautifully with a 3 circle sporty Chrome garnered Tachometer/ Odometer combination. Well positioned steering controls for the in built music system and cruise control steering controls. (Iím yet to try out the cruise control as Iíve not had a chance to take it out of the city as yet.) The Caska 7Ē display lights up and starts with the Chevy Bow-tie on the screen, The Climate control powerful but very silent with an Air quality filter for outside air.(I leave this on most of the time and have extremely minimal vehicular exhaust come in traffic jams and unnoticeable during regular driving. Garbage and sewer canal smells sometimes slightly trickle in but very minimal)
What is not so nice however is the quality of the plastics. This is not to say that the quality is bad. Itís just that it is not as great as other vehicles in its class namely the Jetta and the Laura. The plastics in the Laura seem more mature and rich compared to the Cruze which is a little more, well..plasticky.
Settling in to drive the car, adjust yourself in the leather upholstered seat which has height adjustment via a pump action lever as well as reclining and distance adjustment. The steering fits well to your posture with its tilt and telescopic steering.

The car system confiuration is pretty detailed and includes small details like whether you want the horn to sound or lights to flash when the car is locked/ unlocked, handles the system settings for everything from the climate control, to power locks and courtesy lights and is controlled via the menu button on the in stereo dash. The trip computer is pretty nifty and is controlled by the right stalk and includes distance to empty, average Mileage, Distance travelled and Average speed. A notable missing item is the ability to track 2 trips seperately (at least I haven't found it yet). Thankfully they have got the indicator stalks on the right and wipers on the left. The automatic rain sensing wipers are pretty sensitive and the sensitivity can also be adjusted. No I haven't tested it in rain yet but, i tried by throwing some water on the windshield.

Now to the actual drive itself. The car is very stable at low speeds and at speeds upto 80kmps within the city, ground clearance is not brilliant nor is it very low. It stands at 165mm. I have so far not had an issue of scraping the undercarriage on large speedbreakers. There was a lot of fear of scraping the front skirts when coming off a steep ramp but again have not had that problem.
I have noticed a slight air whooshing sound when I pump the brakes when the engine is off and then the brake depresses only a few mm and not completely till you start the engine again. Not sure if this is by design or something else. Will need to have that checked with the service engineer tomorrow
At low speeds, the steering can be a little tight but not enough to annoy you. This could also be because I have increased the width of the tyres from 205/60 to 225/55. Again this coud be negated considerably by increasing the tyre pressure to 35 rather than 32. Chevrolet recommends tyre pressures of 32 to 39 for ride comfort vs fuel efficiency respectively in the Cruze. Nitro at 34-35 is a good in between.
Everything seems great but there are a few niggles like in every car

Things I don't like
  • Power windows have one touch down but need to press and hold to raise them
  • Rear View mirror coud have been automatic dimming for the night
  • Lack of Dead pedal for the left foot. Makes the left leg pretty uncomfortable. This in my opinion is the most irritating niggle. Have to figure out how to customize and make a dead pedal for my car
  • Lack of storage space. The dash is extremely small and doesn't even fit the Chevrolet Usermanual's Leather case. Its is quite deep and the height is large but, the width which is what matters when you want to toss in a book or two is not sufficient. There could have been a few more cubbies. The rear door storages do not fit a regular water bottle comfortably and will be a hassle for those who susually travel in the rear seat
  • The hand rest cum storage bin could have been extendable a little more. It's a tad bit uncomfortable
  • The rear hand rest could have been larger
  • Rear Seat space while not niggardly is not great either and could be better for a car of its class
  • The current mileage after approximately 500 kms is 7.5kmpl on the trip computer. The service people maintain that mileage will start to rise only after the fist service (1000kms reassurance checkup)
  • Takes a while to get used to the placement of the start -stop switch because its kind of hidden behind the steering wheel and not easily visible. Also it takes some adjusting to get used to the start stop button on the left since we are conventionally used to having the ignition on the right
  • The horn is terrible and I'm going to get it changed the first chance I have

Things I love are
  • The most silent and powerful Diesel in its class.
  • The grey interiors (Now black) is really nice and is a change from the usual beige interiors whose look is now old
  • Sporty Cockpit with plenty of Chrome garnish, Blue backlighting (The brightness of which can be adjusted to your liking)
  • Powerful and silent Climate Control with Air Quality Sensors
  • All of the feature sets like the sunroof, rain sensing wipers, Push start etc which make you feel you've got more than you've paid for and more than compensates for the missing few features listed above
  • Ride comfort is excellent and stability of the vehicle feels solid. Still yet to try extreme cornering and will update after the running period
  • Steering control feels very responsive.
  • Excellent braking
  • Cross 1700rpm and this vehice is a rocket

Next post will contain the photographs
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Old 18th March 2011, 23:53   #2
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Default Re: Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)

Originally Posted by a.sundaram View Post
Choosing to Cruze
Congrats on your car and wish a happy mile crunching on your cruze missile. It is a terrific car for its price.

post some pics for rest of us to drool over! Looking forward to see the pics of Caska unit in your car's console.

Last edited by Ace F355 : 19th March 2011 at 00:22.
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Old 19th March 2011, 13:26   #3
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Default Re: Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)

Congratulations on your new buy.... Cruze has also been sitting on the top of the list of alternatives that i am looking for.

Caska unit seems to be a nice option if everything can be integrated nicely without any changes to the console.

Do upload pics ASAP.

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Old 19th March 2011, 13:36   #4
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Default Re: Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)

Congratulations on the new buy. Thank you for providing the video too comparing the three cars. After reading a beautiful review i would say i am a tad dissapointed to find no images. Hope you would post them soon. Cheers
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Old 20th March 2011, 14:13   #5
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Default Re: Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)

Pictures Pictures Pictures!
Finally managed to get time to shoot the Cruze LTZ AT and upload.
Hope you enjoy them
Attached Thumbnails
Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)-cruze-ltz-1-6.jpg  

Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)-cruze-ltz-2-6.jpg  

Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)-cruze-ltz-3-6.jpg  

Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)-cruze-ltz-4-6.jpg  

Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)-cruze-ltz-5-6.jpg  

Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)-cruze-ltz-6-6.jpg  

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Old 20th March 2011, 14:49   #6
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Default Re: Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)

Sundaram, congrats! You got best car in India 15 lakhs can buy. A looker (stunning) and a goer (stonking), too. How many cars come with this combination and cost under 15 lakh? In fact in looks and even in performance, it eclipses many pricier cars.
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Old 20th March 2011, 14:50   #7
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Default Re: Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)

Congratulations. Nice detailed review and some real funky pictures. Since you have mentioned, is bottom scraping an issue with Cruze?
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Old 20th March 2011, 14:52   #8
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Default Re: Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)

Congrats on your new beast. Wishing you many miles with the car

And oh, please post individual pics instead of merging them.
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Old 20th March 2011, 14:58   #9
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Default Re: Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)

Congrats on your beast. I strongly believe that its an excellent VFM.

And you review is very nice, with detailed pics. Thanks.

Now, sit back, relax and CRUZE!!!!
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Old 20th March 2011, 15:23   #10
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Default Re: Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)

Congratulations sundaram on your new Chevrolet Cruze. Chevy Cruze is the best diesel car at this price point along with good looks, I guess its also biggest in its class. Very good pictures showing almost complete view of car. Do post pictures of engine bay. Congrats again on your purchase and drive safe. Wishing you many miles with the car.
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Old 20th March 2011, 16:41   #11
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Default Re: Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)

The cruze is truly loaded. Fab feature set for the price. Can we opt for the service package from gm like they have for the spark? Will definately consider this car when my parents decide to change. The caska unit looks fab. And is fully loaded with all functions at hand. Please keep updating onthe caska unit.
Wishing you many miles of joyful motoring with your cruze missile!
Drive safe!
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Old 20th March 2011, 16:45   #12
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Default Re: Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)

Congrats on the car !! Cruze seems to have picked up quite well. The side profile profile looks real nice. Caska unit has really added up good features.
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Old 20th March 2011, 21:11   #13
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Default Re: Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)

Great review. Fantastic observations. Cruze AT is definitely a great vehicle.

After some researches we have decided to buy one for our family. Booked White Diamond Cruze AT & Expecting delivery soon, probably this week.
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Old 20th March 2011, 21:15   #14
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Default Re: Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)

Congrats on the beast. With 150 bhp under the bonnet, there is a lot you can dream about. Do post a long drive experience soon..
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Old 20th March 2011, 23:20   #15
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Default Re: Choosing to Cruze - Chevrolet Cruze LTZ AT. (First 500 kms)

Great review. Cruze is definitely a good choice. My dad was interested and in search of good midsize car. Going through your detailed review, I can now convince him.
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