Cruze not always shipshape
Good or bad, owners are divided, but prospective buyers should be alert to some serious issues, GRAHAM SMITH says.
THE speed with which the market dumped big cars for smaller ones caught Holden napping.
In an attempt to catch up, the company rushed to Korea and signed up for a bunch of Daewoo models that were ill-equipped for the Australian market.
Those first cars, the Barina, Viva and Cruze, had build issues. They were unrefined and weren’t tuned to Australian conditions.
In the case of the Cruze, many of those issues were addressed in the Australian-built car, which came in two body styles, sedan and hatch, four models, and the choice of two petrol engines and a turbo-diesel.
The CD was the entry model, the CDX had a longer features list, and then there were the sports models, the SRi and SRi-V.
There was decent cabin room for front and back-seat passengers. The sedan also had a good-sized boot, but not the hatch, whose smaller boot was further reduced if you chose the full-sized spare.
The 1.8-litre petrol base engine wasn’t the most exciting. It was competent enough, but there wasn’t much in reserve for overtaking or climbing hills.
In contrast, the 1.4-litre turbo, with similar power to the larger non-turbo engine but 200Nm of torque, was a relaxed driver in town or on the open road.
It performed well and returned fuel economy numbers similar to the turbo-diesel engine.
The diesel was the best blend of performance and fuel efficiency, but it did bother some owners with its annoying turbo lag.
On the road, the Cruze was poised, its ride comfortable and its handling was agile and balanced.
Opinion is divided on whether the Cruze is a great car or a dud and there’s little middle ground if you believe owners.
Most we talked to were happy with their cars and reported few troubles, although a couple had serious issues that soured their experience.
A regular complaint is a lack of performance from the 1.8-litre engine. If you want more zip go for the 1.4-litre turbo or diesel.
There are also reports of engines surging, so watch for that on your test drive. It could be caused by a faulty fuel-injector.
Look around the engine for oil leaks, they’re quite common.
Turbo-diesels that mostly do short trips can have trouble with the diesel particulate filter. The filter needs regular runs of longer distance at higher than crawling speeds to burn off the carbon buildup. If it doesn’t get the chance to clean itself you’ll have to take it to a dealer to do it, and that costs.
Complaints about automatic transmissions crop up regularly. When test driving, look for erratic shifting or searching for gears that doesn’t seem normal.
The fix is a new transmission, not an inexpensive exercise.
There are plenty of reports of things that would appear to be due to variable build quality, like electrical problems, airconditioning leaks, squeaks and rattles.
Reports of high brake wear seem common, with owners reporting complete brake replacements being needed from as low as 30,000km.