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Motoring: New Cruze Diesel a highway car

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | December 2nd, 2013

The Cruze has been with us since 2009, and it has done extremely well for Chevrolet.

The reason the Cruze has been a sales success is because it was the first compact sedan from a North American manufacturer that wasn't rubbish.While the looks are not ground-breaking, the interior offers good space, comfort and decent amounts of gadgets, plus the chassis is excellent, which means the Cruze is nice to drive.

Over the years, in our local market anyway, the Cruze has been offered with two petrol engines. Both are quite good, but they do drink more gas compared to their rivals from Asia and Europe. To take another shot at improving its fuel economy, Chevrolet has started offering a diesel version for the 2014 model year Cruze.

The diesel motor in question is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit that features double overhead cams and a turbo charger. The net result is 151 hp and a colossal 264 lb-ft of torque. Power is fed to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox (thank you, GM, for not going the CVT route).

On the road, this Cruze Diesel is just as impressive as any other Cruze model, which means it has excellent road manners and is a quiet and comfortable cruiser — something that many compact offerings fail to deliver on.

Acceleration from a standstill is not its strong point (although on the highway, it improves a lot). First thing in the morning, this motor has the typical traits of a diesel motor — it's noisy.

However, the main reason anyone is likely to buy a diesel engined family car is because they are economical. That is an area where the Cruze Diesel did not perform as well as I was expecting it to. Rather than rely on manufacturer numbers, I like conducting my own fuel economy testing, which consists of 170 km of highway driving, and then 130 km in the city. All cars I drive go through the same test, and the Cruze Diesel managed 7.6 litres/100km during my week, a week when the weather was mild and I encountered no traffic jams on my highway run. That is not very good, especially when you consider the manufacturers numbers suggests 6.0 litres/100km. Plus, diesel is roughly 5 cents more expensive than regular gas, and when you compare the Cruze Diesel with something like a Honda Civic sedan, which is cheaper to buy and consumed just a bit more petrol (8.4 litres/100km for the week), the case for buying the Cruze Diesel becomes a little weaker.

The price, if you're wondering, is $24,945 for the base Cruze Diesel.

So if it's not all that efficient, then why buy a Cruze Diesel? It's nice to drive and great for covering long distances. If you travel a lot, this is the ideal compact car for you. If you spend all your time in the city, you'll want to keep looking for something that will better fit your lifestyle.
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