The Art Of Cruze Control

Your toast is full of butter, but will another scoop make your breakfast even yummier? Well, General Motors certainly believed so when it recently decided to give its Chevrolet Cruze a healthy extra dose of power about three years after its launch. What it effectively did is turn the diesel rocket, which is already the leader among diesel midsize sedans, into a missile instead.

The new Cruze is not like the plethora of cosmetic face-lifts all manufacturers do today. At first glance, you would not notice changes at all as there is nothing on the exterior—in fact, complete design changes are only expected to début by next year. Instead, the 2012 Cruze features a revised engine, and some tweaks to the interior to make the best drive an even better buy.

In common parlance, this can be understood as an open heart surgery—the displacement of the engine has gone up marginally to 1,998cc, from 1,991cc, while it now also features a twin-camshaft set-up, versus a single one in the old engine. While these engine tweaks (and more) may seem small and mostly technical, what it means is that horsepower has gone up significantly to 166ps@3,800rpm from 150ps@4,000rpm. For a driver, this means 16ps more power at lower engine speeds, translating into slightly better overtaking and more of the diesel power rush that the Cruze was already well-known for. In fact, torque has also gone up to a class-topping 380Nm@2,000rpm, up from 327Nm@2,600rpm.

Gear ratios have also been changed with a sixth gear added for both automatic and manual transmissions. What this has done is that while both power and torque are up, mileage for both transmission variants has remained the same as before. Here I must add that the new engine and transmission set-up have also made the Cruze quieter than before.

On the inside, proportions remain the same, but the best thing I would say that GM did (likely based on customer suggestions) is increase the headspace in the back seats by modifying the cushions. I am fairly tall, as far as the Indian average height is concerned, and this is something that I chose to check first. So, good job GM! Another small thing that has been added is powered seats for the driver—a useful feature that gives it a slight edge over its competitors. The new Cruze is priced upwards of R12,85,243 (ex-showroom, Delhi).

Why is GM upping its game and is Cruze still the best diesel car in the segment? Maybe for now, but there is worry just around the corner. Hyundai’s Elantra, available in both diesel and petrol, has been gaining ground in the segment, while the C segment overall has been shrinking. Plus, the Europeans have woken from their slumber—rumour mills say that Skoda’s Laura will see an all-new model replacement next year, when the ‘Octavia’ nameplate will be brought back to India. The new Octavia will be longer, yet lighter than the outgoing Laura.