One extra door give the Cruze plenty of practical space and even adds some style
Concurrent with growth in the compact-utility-vehicle segment in Canada is a rise in compact-hatchback popularity, as new-car buyers seek greater usable space in smaller models.
That heightened interest means the new-for-2017 Cruze Hatchback is arriving at just the right time and for all the right reasons.
As a companion to the second-generation Cruze sedan, the hatchback joins the Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla iM, Hyundai Elantra GT, Honda Civic and the Volkswagen Golf (the granddaddy of all small hatches). In fact, of all mainstream automakers, only Nissan and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles lack a participant in this class.
The Cruze Hatchback uses the sedan’s platform as a starting point, which means the distance between the front and rear wheels is the same. In total length, however, the hatchback is about 15 centimetres shorter. The hatch’s suspension and steering systems are identical to the sedan, except for a rear independent setup used in the Premium Hatchback trim, which replaces the standard solid torsion beam.
Of course what really matters to hatch buyers is how much stuff they can stow and is this regard the Cruze appears pretty efficient. Behind the rear seat there’s more room than you’ll find in a similarly shaped Ford Focus, Mazda3, VW Golf and Toyota iM, but a bit less than the new Honda Civic Hatchback delivers. With the rear seat folded almost perfectly flat, the Cruze remains spaciously competitive, although the squared-off Golf is tops in class.
The hatchback’s styling is arguably more attractive than the Cruze sedan’s. The curvy lines, gently sloping roofline and distinctive rear end help make it a visual delight.
Also esthetically pleasing are the interior appointments that mirror those of the sedan. The touch-screen is easy to see and use, although the myriad of steering-wheel switches might seem too intimidating for the uninitiated.
The Cruze Hatchback legs it out using the same powerplant as the sedan. The turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder puts out 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, which is adequate for a car weighing in at about 1,400 kilograms. It does fall short of the sporty Civic Hatchback’s numbers, however.
Sometime in 2017, a 1.6-litre turbo-diesel engine will be available in the Cruze sedan and hatchbacks with an expected output of 136 horsepower and 236 pound-feet.
There are rumours that a more potent turbo engine might also become available, which would help the Chevy compete against the Focus ST, VW GTI and upcoming Civic Si hot hatches.
Transmission choices consist of a sixspeed manual and an optional six-speed automatic with manual-shift controls. The latter helps produce best-case fuel-consumption numbers of 8.3 l/100 km in the city and 6.4 on the highway.
The base Hatchback sells for $22,400, including destination charges. That’s up from the sedan’s $17,700 base price, but the hatch starts at a higher (LT) trim level that includes more of the basics than the sedan’s price-leader L and LS designations. Selecting the automatic transmission gets you a power sunroof, fuel saving engine start-stop system and a larger touchscreen display.
At the top end, the Premier maxes out with keyless start, leather seat coverings (heated in front), power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated steering wheel and 17-inch wheels (16-inchers are standard).
Available options include climate control, navigation system, nine-speaker Bose audio package plus active safety technology designed to prevent or at least warn the driver of impending collisions.
By any measure, the Cruze Hatchback should expect a warm reception with buyers bent on maxing out their compact-car purchase. Given its capacity, the hatch represents more than a fair compromise between outright utility and a shape that’s downright desirable.