Chevrolet hatches a new Cruze model
Facing stiff competition, the Hatchback nonetheless offers utility without the need for buying more expensive CUVs for no real reason, other than to say they own a crossover
THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: Good looks, peppy response and sharp steering
- What’s Worst: An Eco model would make the Hatchback an even more appealing proposition
- What’s Interesting: In an era that sees even temporary spare tires being replaced by inflator kits, the Cruze Hatchback comes with a 16-inch steel wheel spare
DETROIT, MI: The arrival of the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback comes during a kind of mini hatch explosion.
Cruze is by far Chevrolet’s most popular model worldwide, with more than four million sold.
In Canada, hatchback retail registrations exceed 60,000 with 40 per cent alone in Quebec. And 38 per cent of hatchbacks are sold in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
VW has known this for a long time, as 100 per cent of its Golf/GTI vehicles are hatchbacks. If you want an econo VW sedan, buy a Passat.
Similarly, 39 per cent of Mazda3s, 58 per cent of Ford Focuses and 47 per cent of Subaru Imprezas are hatchbacks.
Also Read: Ford Focus RS a wicked hot hatch
This has not been lost on Chevrolet, which sees the new Cruze hatch as filling in a major gap in its Canadian model lineup.
Like the sedan, the hatchback is a front-driver powered by a 1.4-litre turbo gasoline direct injection inline four-cylinder engine with 153 hp and 177 lb/ft of torque with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
At the media launch in Detroit, it was announced there will be a diesel model coming later but no word about an Eco version.
Of course the reason for buying a hatch is versatility in terms of seating and cargo and Cruze offers 47.2 cu ft with the back seat flat and 24.7 cu ft behind. Towing is not recommended.
To test the size of the cargo area, part of the press introduction in Detroit involved auto journalists stuffing two huge Teddy Bears into the back and dropping them off at the vast Detroit Medical Center to be distributed to sick children.
The medical staff was sincerely glad for the donations of about 60 bears, and it did make me feel good to have done a little something.
Suspension is MacPherson struts at the front with a compound crank-style torsion beam at the rear. The coil springs at the front are tuned for the Cruze along with a direct acting stabilizer bar and hydraulic ride bushings.
There is a choice of three alloy wheel sizes depending on trim level and four-disc brakes are standard with GM Duralife rotors, which are designed to last longer.
Standard are 10 airbags, backup camera and StabiliTrak electronic stability control with traction control, rollover mitigation and anti-lock brakes.
There are a host of available driver/safety aids starting with the Driver Confidence Package that includes Park Assist, Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.
Step up to the Driver Confidence II Package and it adds IntelliBeam Automatic High- Beam Control, Forward Collision Alert, Following Distance Indicator and Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist.
Perhaps the most interesting safety feature is Teen Driver. It allows parents/owners to set controls such as speed and audio loudness that can be reviewed and discussed.
Connectivity is extensive, starting with standard Android Auto and Apple Car Play allowing smart phone integration of apps, maps, music and OnStar 4G LTE with built-in hotspot that includes a three-month and 3Gig trial.
In Canada we will have three models, the LT Manual, LT Auto and Premier Auto with starting prices of $20,595, $22,045 and $24,645 respectively. The Hatchback adds $750 to the price of the corresponding sedan.
Having been born in Windsor and spending a lot of my formative years in Detroit (which might explain a lot) the drive route up through Grosse Point skirting Lake St. Clair all the way was quite nostalgic, during a day of brilliant sunshine and fast changing tree colours.
Also Read: Scion goes mainstream with 2016 iM hatchback
The Chevrolet MyLink centre console connectivity screen is now familiar to me and one of the most intuitive you’ll find in the industry.
At one point, we did get lost, but my co-driver simply plugged in his Android smart phone and, presto, we had Google Maps on the screen.
Most of the route was in a Premier with automatic, but we did snag a manual for a short loop on the streets surrounding the hotel in Detroit and it offered no surprises.
The auto model shifted unperceptively including when floored entering the freeway.
The new Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback fills a hole that has needed to be filled for some time.
Facing stiff competition, the Hatchback nonetheless offers utility without the need for buying more expensive CUVs for no real reason other than to say they own a crossover.
Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback 2017
BODY STYLE: Compact five-passenger hatchback
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive
ENGINE: 1.4-litre turbo direct injection inline four-cylinder (153 hp, 177 lb/ft)
FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular) LT Manual, 8.3/6/4/7.4L/100 km city/highway/combined; LT Auto, 8.1/6.4/7.3L/100 KM; Premier Auto, 8.4/6.4/7.5L/100 km
CARGO: 24.7 cu ft behind rear seat; 47.2 cu ft seat folded
TOW RATING: Not recommended
PRICE: (Starting) LT Manual, $20,595; LT Auto, $22,045; Premier Auto, $24,645 not including $1,600 shipping fee