Having effectively disappeared from the Irish market in 2008, Chevrolet is preparing an all-out assault and added another weapon to its arsenal recently in the guise of the Cruze Station Wagon (SW). Joining the Cruze hatchback and saloon models the SW has been tasked with tempting the notoriously estate-shy Irish buyers away from crossovers and SUVs. To do so Chevrolet has followed the lead of manufacturers like Kia and Ford by styling the Cruze SW as more of an extended hatchback than a straight out estate.
To give the SW the best chance ChevroletIrelandwill only offer the load-lugger with its new 1.7-litre VDCi diesel engine. Thanks to standard Start/Stop it produces just 119g/km of CO2, meaning it qualifies for Tax Band A; a crucial factor in the market at the moment. Mated to a six-speed manual transmission the engine lacks some of the refinement offered by rivals like the Ford Focus but it is a whizzy unit that offers 130hp and 300Nm of torque. Capable of sprinting from 0-100km/h sprint in 9.4 seconds, the low down grunt is more than enough power for overtaking but it can run out of puff when driving uphill necessitating a drop in gears. Handling wise the SW is a bit of a mixed bag with vague steering that offers little in the way of feedback but with a chassis that offers decent grip, body roll control and ride quality. It will not challenge the Focus in the driving involvement stakes but is more than a match for some of it’s over main rivals like the Kia cee’d SW. Inside, well bolstered seats provide the support required for long journeys while the rear seat can hold two adults with ease or a third at a squeeze over a shorter distance. With the seats in place there is an ample 500-litre of boot space on offer, growing to 1,478-litres with the rear seats collapsed.
Anyone who has driven an Opel recently will recognise some of the Cruze’s switchgear but despite the shared parts-bin Chevrolet has managed to give the Cruze a style all of its own. The flagship Corvette sports car apparently provided the inspiration for the cowls around the instrument cluster and while fabric trim on the dashboard should not work in theory, the reality is it breaks up the dashboard nicely. ChevroletIrelandhas yet to finalise prices and final specifications for the Cruze but it is likely we will be offered the mid-range LT model that includes air conditioning, cruise control, rear parking sensors, roof rails and electronic boot release all as standard. ESC and traction control are standard across the whole of the Cruze SW range. An infotainment system, known as MyLink, will be offered as an option. The system, manufactured by LG Electronics, is said to bring smartphone capabilities to the car and includes a seven-inch touchscreen display with Bluetooth and USB connectivity for smartphones and MP3 players. The unit will allow owners to download special apps and will include a rear-view camera that supplements standard parking sensors.
With a fuel efficient engine, decent specification and generous levels of space the Chevrolet Cruze SW makes a compelling case for itself but until Irish prices are announced we are not sure if this will be enough to tempt buyers out of their Qashqais and Yetis.
By Paul Healy