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Chevrolet Cruze Station Wagon review (2012 onwards)
What: Chevrolet Cruze Station Wagon
Where: Cologne, Germany
Available: September 2012
We like: practicality, styling, simple model choice
We don't like: dull steering, price rises significantly for the diesel
Chevrolet adds an estate to the Cruze line-up, offering lots of space in a stylish package.
Chevrolet has launched the Cruze Station Wagon, an estate that promises masses of space-per-pound when it goes on sale in September. It completes the Cruze line-up, following on from the saloon and hatchback models.
Priced to undercut rivals from Ford, Skoda and Vauxhall, it starts at £15,375 and is offered with a range of three engines (two petrols and a diesel), three trim levels and a choice of five and six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes. Simples...
To impress us - and you - however the Station Wagon will need to offer more than just value for money.
The 1.6-litre petrol is the cheapest way into a Cruze SW, with prices starting from £15,375. This undercuts rivals from Skoda, Vauxhall and Ford, but with a five-speed manual gearbox and an engine that has to be worked hard to give its best (peak power of 124hp is available at 6,200rpm), we found it too noisy on the motorway. At 70mph, for instance, the engine is spinning at 3,000rpm. If your passenger is softly spoken, you'll struggle to hear them.
We didn't test the other petrol, a 1.8, but we did try the 1.7 VCDi turbodiesel and, if you're prepared to spend £18,925 on a supposedly bargain estate, this dramatically improves things for the Cruze estate's cause. With 221 lb/ft of torque from 2,000rpm and 130hp at 4,000rpm, this engine endows the Cruze with a flexibility that is welcome if you're carrying a heavy load. A six-speed manual gearbox as standard means the engine is sufficiently hushed on the motorway.
Ride & handling
The Cruze is hardly the last word in performance motoring, but its Vauxhall Astra underpinnings are clear to see. It steers, rides and handles with such ease that it a pleasant car to cover long distances and is surprising nimble when you add a bend or two into the equation.
The ride, while slightly firm, does a great job of shielding most lumps and bumps from the cabin but we'd like a bit more feel from the steering.
Let's start at the rear, where the Cruze Station Wagon boasts 1,478 litres of space with the rear seats stowed flat (slightly less than a Skoda Octavia estate) and 500 litres with the seats in place (more than a Ford Focus estate).
The seats fold down easily at the pull of a lever and boast the usual 60/40 split for ultimate versatility, with the length of the boot with the seats up a generous 1,024mm. A storage tray under the boot floor and two more storage bins behind the wheel arches provides plenty of places to store bits and pieces.
More headroom than in the hatch or saloon
Moving through the cabin, the raised roofline of the estate means passengers have more headroom than in the hatch or saloon. Kneeroom is generous and six-footers should have no trouble sitting behind similarly tall people up front.
Up front, our main gripe is that it is difficult to find the perfect seating position, as the backrest adjustment is a lever that is hard to modulate. A dial would be preferred.
That aside, this is a neat looking interior with dark plastics and faux aluminium that belies its budget status. Only a few sharp-edged plastics in hard-to-reach areas of the cabin give the game away.
The three trims levels are LS, LT and LTZ Nav, with all cars benefitting from air-con, follow-me-home headlights, heated door mirrors and rear roof rails. LT (1.6 only) adds a leather steering wheel and gear knob, front fog lamps, rear parking sensors, cruise control, 16-inch alloys and rear electric windows. The top-spec version gains sat-nav and a seven-inch display, Bluetooth, rain-sensing wipers, rear-view parking camera, climate control and 17-inch wheels.
Economy & safety
The 1.6 should average 44.1mpg, the 1.8 42.2mpg and the 1.7 start-stop diesel 62.8mpg. But consider if the price hike of the diesel is worth the outlay - your mileage might not be high enough to recoup the additional costs.
Emissions of 151g/km (1.6) and 119g/km (1.7) are comparable with rivals and will mean low tax bills whether you're a company or private motorist.
The MSN Cars verdict
The Chevrolet Cruze makes most sense as a load-lugging estate car and it offers plenty of practicality for not much money.
The problem is if you want the recommended diesel model and a few goodies such as sat-nav and larger alloy wheels, the price spirals to nearer £20k. That's still cheaper than rivals from Ford and Vauxhall but they are better to drive and feel classier.
|Need to know|
|Engines, petrol||1.6, 1.8|
|Power, hp||124 - 141|
|Torque, lb ft||114 - 221|
|0-62 mph, secs||10.4 - 12.6|
|Top speed, mph||119 - 124|
|Mpg combined||44.1 - 62.8|
|CO2, tax||119 - 156|
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