Since its market introduction in 2009, the Chevrolet Cruze has won the heart of many motorists worldwide. Sporting distinctive, powerful body lines, it launched a revolutionary design language for the Chevrolet brand.
With the arrival of the Cruze Hatchback, Chevrolet will be present in full force in Europe's hard-fought compact segment. The Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback will offer customers the style and versatility of a five-door car, while featuring the same qualities associated with the award-winning Cruze Saloon.
"We believe that the Cruze hatch will provide us with a great opportunity to extend Chevrolet's presence in the compact segment," says Wayne Brannon, President and Managing Director of Chevrolet Europe. "If you look at what we achieved with the salon, Chevrolet's best-selling nameplate around the world in 2010, there's every reason to believe that the hatchback, will contribute significantly to Chevrolet's growth in Europe."
When setting out on the task of creating a five-door hatch based on the Cruze Saloon, Chevrolet's engineering and design team had to take into account that the customer base for the compact five-door market is very heterogeneous. The result is a car that need not shy comparison with the mainstream competition in Europe.
Featuring a bold, expressive Chevrolet design, the Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback combines a progressively styled passenger cabin and leading interior space with a line-up of efficient petrol and diesel options. In the domain of safety, too, the Cruze delivers a lot of value, with comprehensive safety equipment standard with all models.
2012 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback
"Chevrolet cars are real cars for real people. Our aim has always been to deliver products that appeal to people from all walks of life, irrespective of their social status. The Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback is a material expression of this philosophy and offers a lot of car for the money. It communicates a clear statement in terms of design and styling without compromising on safety, practicality or economy", Brannon continued.
All Chevrolet Cruze Hatchbacks will come with enhancements to the interior. Customers will be able to choose from three different trim levels, LS, LT and LTZ.
Sporty profile, lots of space and technical features
The exterior of the Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback evokes movement and kinetic energy. The main design cues which underscore this impression are the fast roofline, the slightly swept, concave shoulder line as well as the headlamps with their pointed, arrow-like housings. The hatchback's proportions, its short front and rear overhangs, and body sides which slope inward when viewed in profile, all reinforce the car's grounded, secure stance.
"It is the speedy, sporty profile and the wide, confident stance that distinguishes the Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback from many of its more static contemporaries. We were fortunate to have a great proportion from the Cruze saloon to work with", says Martin Love, Chevrolet Cruze design manager.
Like the Cruze Saloon, the hatch has an assertive front appearance created by the horizontally separated radiator grille and the headlamps' twin halogen bulbs. Moving to the rear, the roof-mounted spoiler and a subtle crease in the pillar which runs to the base of the rear screen reinforce the visual expression of speed. The tail light cluster shows attention to detail and contributes to the upmarket appearance of the Cruze.
Inside, the Cruze is characterised by a flowing cabin arrangement, and by copious amounts of space and great versatility. In reference to executions seen in the iconic Chevrolet Corvette sports car, the Cruze features a dual cockpit layout. It is separated by the integrated centre stack which flows into the centre console. In conjunction with the mid-instrument panel, made of fabric or technical grained protein vinyl, and the LED-backlit instrument cluster, these elements add to the feeling of relaxed comfort.
Luggage capacity is 413 litres with the seats up and rear passengers enjoy 974 mm of headroom. Folding the rear seats forward in a 60/40 split increases the cargo volume to 883 litres. Various storage spaces in the two-tier glove box, the centre console and door pockets, as well as the seatback pockets can be used to stow away a wide array of everyday items, such as books, CDs and small laptops.
Other technology and comfort features include:
Efficient powertrain options, excellent traction and handling
Under the bonnet, there is a choice of three engines - two petrol units and one diesel. In early 2012, moreover, a new 1.7-litre diesel engine will become available. All engines are four-cylinder units featuring double overhead camshafts, 16 valves and either multi-point fuel injection, or in the case of the diesels, common-rail technology.
Both the 1.6 and the 1.8-litre petrol engines operate using continuous variable cam phasing. The model year 2012 modifications include new intake manifolds on both units. Powertrain engineers furthermore raised the 1.6-litre engine's compression ratio and adjusted the 1.8-litre's engine control calibration.
At 6,200 rpm, the 1.6-litre petrol engine has an output of 124 hp when equipped with a manual transmission. The 1.8-litre engine delivers 141 hp at 6,200 rpm. Its maximum torque is 176 Nm at 3,800 rpm. Both engines return 42.8mpg, with the 1.6-litre unit emitting 153 g/km of CO2 and the 1.8-litre petrol engine producing 155 g/km of CO2.
Being one of the most powerful engines in the compact segment, the 2.0-litre turbo diesel available in the all-new Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback and model year 2011 Cruze Saloons, can count on increased peak firing pressure in the combustion chamber and a chain-driven timing system.
Excellent throttle response, impressive torque of 360 Nm at 1750 rpm and compliance with Euro 5 standards (147 g/km of CO2) are among the key characteristics of this engine. It produces 163 hp at 3,800 rpm, achieving a top speed of 127mph when combined with a manual transmission and requires 8.3 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60mph. All engines can be combined with either a manual or a six-speed automatic transmission.
Key to the Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback's excellent handling characteristics are its wide track width, the body structure and its advanced suspension system. The Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback has a body-frame-integral (BFI) that is made of high-strength steel and among the most rigid in the segment.
The BFI provides a superior foundation for achieving the nimble, responsive yet relaxed driving that can be experienced in the Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback. It also facilitates measures aimed at dampening noise and vibration.
The McPherson strut front suspension has side-load compensated front strut modules with specially shaped springs. The hydraulic ride bushings effectively absorb road input loads and provide a high degree of ride isolation. The design of the compound crank (torsion beam) rear suspension contributes to a lower centre of gravity and also enables weight savings and consistent wheel-camber control.
Steering is either hydraulically or electrically power-assisted and provides the driver with a solid on-centre feel.
Occupant safety a top priority
Both in terms of the materials used and build quality, the Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback represents a major improvement over Chevrolet's previous compact hatch. The structure of the Cruze Hatchback is close to identical to that of the Cruze Saloon, which achieved a 5-star NCAP safety rating.
A host of electronic systems has been incorporated in order to prevent accidents from happening. In an emergency, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS) and Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) will intervene to help the driver keep his vehicle on track and assist him during challenging braking or acceleration maneouvers.
At the core of the Hatchback's safety architecture lies its body frame integral which consists of a single welded unit made of full-length beams, pressings and box sections. Door-beams of ultra-high strength steels provide excellent protection against side impacts.
The six airbags as well as the five three-point seatbelts are controlled by the car's Sensing and Diagnostic Module (SDM), a device linked to sensors in the front bumper and the B-pillar. Child safety seats can be secured in compliance with ISOFIX standards.
In order to reduce the risk of injuries to the driver in the event of an accident, a collapsible pedal assembly folds away in moderate-to-severe impacts. Meanwhile, the design of the bonnet provides more space between the bonnet and the engine, which makes direct contact between a pedestrian and the engine block much less likely. The bumper system, too, has been configured to reduce the likelihood of pedestrians sustaining injuries from the vehicle's structural components.
Launch across European markets begins in summer 2011.
With global sales figures for the four-door variant of the Cruze exceeding even the most optimistic estimates in 2009 and 2010, Chevrolet's designers faced the challenging task of coming up with a design for the hatchback version that would match the Saloon's universal appeal.
"Our aim was to use the same design language seen in the four-door variant, but adapt it to a hatchback", says Chevrolet Cruze design manager Martin Love. "We were inspired to give the car a fast, almost coupe-like appearance without compromising its versatility and practicality in any way."
The result of these efforts is an exterior that is every bit as dynamic as the Saloon's and even sportier. While it shares the four-door's attractive character lines and key design cues, the five-door has a distinctive, fast-back silhouette.
In keeping with Chevrolet's global design language, the Cruze hatchback has a bold, purposeful stance which sets it apart from its competitors. From every angle, its harmonious proportions and aerodynamic refinement appeal to the eye and convey sportiness, stability and a feeling of speed.
A bold, confident look
Designers of the Chevrolet Cruze hatchback adopted the key styling cues that earned them acclaim when the Saloon was unveiled. In fact, from the front, the two cars look exactly the same. The grounded, athletic posture is highlighted by body sides that slope inward as they rise toward the roof. The signature dual-port grille, a trademark on all Chevrolet passenger cars, is separated horizontally by a body-colored crossbar with the bowtie placed in the center. In LS and LT trim, both grille openings are framed in matte chrome.
The grille is flanked by headlamp housings whose upper edges rise sharply to a point along the top of the bumpers. They accommodate twin halogen bulbs that are placed within bright finished pods and covered by clear polycarbonate outer lenses. In conjunction with the piano black background, this arrangement brings a sparkling look to the Cruze's face.
While the bonnet has been carefully sculpted to incorporate the pointed headlamp housings, the lower part of the vehicle's front section includes a trapezoidal air intake as well as outer recesses for optional fog lamps. A fine spoiler lip forms the bottom edge of the front fascia.
Dynamic lines flow into sleek rear section
In profile, an arching roofline and a distinctive concave shoulder line emphasise the car's dynamic posture. The shoulder line runs along the side of the car and is gently swept, implying movement and pent-up energy, ready to be released. Short overhangs both at the front and the rear reinforce the visual expression of stability and sporty performance. Overall vehicle length is 4510 mm while width is 1797 mm.
The design of the hatchback's rear section includes a spoiler with integrated stop lamp which has been fitted to the upper perimeter of the rear glass for enhanced aerodynamic efficiency. Clearly visible and centrally located: the Chevy bowtie. The liftgate, meanwhile, has been carefully shaped to be in tune with the car's nimble appearance.
The pronounced rear bumper features a large recess which incorporates the number plate, a rear fog lamp on the left and a back-up lamp on the right hand-side. The flush-mounted tail light clusters emulate the execution seen in the headlamps, with the upper corners extending into the side of the car body. Two circular shapes in each unit echo Chevrolet's traditional twin light styling motif. The LED diodes in the shelf-mounted rear stop light help to underscore the car's upscale visual credentials.
Uncluttered, clean exterior
All trim levels are characterised by their high build quality and close attention to detail. A major factor contributing to the car's appeal is its unadorned exterior which is devoid of ornaments and highlights the elegance inherent to the fundamental design.
The Chevrolet Cruze hatchback has very tight panel gaps and shut-lines. Door-to-door, door-to-fender, and lamp-to-fascia gaps have been designed to measure 3.0 mm or less.
While two wheel sizes - 16 and 17 inch - are available, the space between wheel arch and tyre will remain the same in either case, thanks to constant wheel/tyre diameters of 670 mm. Compensating wheel offsets ensure that the same wheel/body proportions are maintained when the car is viewed from the front or the rear.
Like its longer sibling, the Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback offers customers a progressively styled, high-quality interior, which can comfortably accommodate five adults. Its passenger cabin has been designed to be in harmony with the vehicle's taut outside appearance while providing leading total interior space and lots of flexibility.
Today's finance-conscious buyers in the compact car segment will prudently scrutinise a vehicle's interior when weighing the return on their investment. An attractive cockpit and passenger cabin layout, precisely arranged interrelated elements, the use of quality materials and the integration of Chevrolet's trademark design cues are the principal factors adding to the feeling of relaxed comfort inside the Cruze Hatchback.
Flowing lines for a modern yet iconic cockpit design
The interior of the Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback features the dual-cockpit layout with integrated centre stack design which proved so successful in the four-door. Encapsulating both driver and front-seat passenger, the twin cockpit is a nod to the arrangement seen in the Chevrolet Corvette, one of the world's most famous sports cars.
Separating the driver's space from the front-seat passenger is the integrated centre stack (ICS) that flows seamlessly into the center console. The relatively shallow angle and flowing lines of the centre stack layout distinguishes it from more conventional box-like arrangements often encountered in the segment.
The upper portion of the centre stack incorporates squarely shaped heating, ventilation and air-conditioning outlets to the left and the right, whereas the uppermost section, which intersects with the instrument panel, holds a slightly recessed two or four colour infotainment display.
In up-level specifications, a consistent 'U'-shaped accent trim, in matte silver or molded-in film, helps to visually balance the interior. This is applied across the upper portion of the centre stack, including the centre air vents, to the sides and lower portion around the gear shift, as well as to the lower part of the steering wheel spokes.
Reinforcing the impression of fluid, up-market design is the mid-instrument panel that is made of fabric or technical grained protein vinyl, coloured to match the seat inserts and door trims.
Easily accessible information
The efficiently packaged instrument cluster combines visual clarity with sophisticated styling. Consisting of three hooded speedometer and tachometer analogue dials, as well as fuel and temperature gauges, it provides the driver with the essential information required.
A new element on LS base level Cruzes is the same full-feature driver information centre, which previously was only available from mid-level cars upward. In addition to showing the travel distance and mileage, the centrally located digital readout highlights average speed, selected gear in automatic transmissions and fuel range while updating the driver on instantaneous as well as average fuel economy.
White and ice-blue, LED-powered illumination emanates from behind the gauges and displays, contrasting with the red instrument cluster needles for a classy ambience. All variants of the Cruze hatchback carry a three-spoke steering-wheel with thicker rim section for improved grip and feel. Mid and up-level models allow for tilt and telescoping adjustment of the steering wheel. Steering wheel buttons for remote operation of the audio system and cruise control are standard on mid and up-level trims. Leather-trimmed finishing is available on up-level models.
Technology that paves the way for more comfort
On top of the amenities already mentioned, the Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback comes with a wide array of tech equipment designed to make modern driving a more pleasurable experience. All Cruze Hatchback models will have a secure digital (SD) memory card updated navigation system.
The Radio/CD system offers single disc operation and includes MP3 playback functionality as well as radio digital signaling. Related information and a digital clock appear on the infotainment display. Two front-door installed speakers are standard, up to six can be fitted into the car, depending on the trim level.
Mid- and up-level cars have a USB jack offering iPod connectivity in the armrest close to the centre console. The center console provides an auxiliary power outlet for recharging various electronic devices.
A manually-controlled air-conditioning system is standard across the range. All cars with air conditioning incorporate a filter that reduces the inflow of particulates and pollutants which may cause asthma and other respiratory conditions. Mid to upper-level specifications have dual-zone automatic climate control, with LTZ variants featuring automatic air recirculation and an air moisture sensor.
Generous space, flexible seating and neat storage solutions
The Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback offers leading interior space and, thanks to its flexible rear seats, enables stowage of bulky cargo. Rear head-room is 974 mm, as compared to 963 mm in the salon. Luggage capacity is 413 litres with the seats up - a 150 percent increase over the 275 litres of cargo room available in the previous five-door Chevrolet in this segment, the Lacetti hatchback. The rear seats fold forward in a 60/40 split, enabling pass-through access to the load area and expanding cargo volume to 883 litres.
Seat upholstery consists of two fabrics or genuine leather and is always colour-coded with the mid-instrument panel. Whereas base level seats feature a woven fabric with dull sheen finish, mid-level models use a knit weave on a colour backing for a two-dimensional look.
French seam stitching that has been benchmarked against the best offerings in the world and firm durometer foam contributes to the seats' high-quality appearance and feel.
Practical opportunities to pack away items of various sorts continue to be appreciated by customers, and the Cruze Hatchback offers plenty of them. The large centre console accommodates CDs and has an adjustable dual cup-holder. Above the centre sits a 62 mm deep recess, which is covered in LS and LTZ variants and can hold different small items.
Further stowage spaces include door pockets with integrated bottle storage (1.5 litre front, 500 ml rear) a large, illuminated two-tier glove-box, a small driver's side storage compartment and seat-back pockets sufficiently large to carry slim laptops.
Engines and transmissions
Designing an engine for today's compact hatchback segment is no easy feat, as customers are expecting lively performance while equally looking to drive a vehicle that consumes as little fuel as possible.
The engine line-up for the Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback delivers on both counts and incorporates the latest improvements undertaken as part of the model year 2011 engine enhancements. These include new variable intake manifolds and transmission changes, higher power output, as well reduced CO2 emissions and lower fuel consumption.
Across Europe, three engines will be offered in the near future - two petrol engines and a diesel-powered unit. Beginning in early 2012, a new 1.7-litre diesel engine will be available on the Cruze. All engines are four-cylinder units, with common features including double overhead camshafts, 16 valves and either multi-point fuel injection, or in the case of the diesels, common-rail technology.
While the 1.6-litre petrol engine comes as standard with base (LS) and mid-level (LT) models, the 1.8-litre petrol engine is standard with LTZ variants.Only LT and LTZ variants of the Cruze hatchback will be equipped with the 2.0-litre turbo diesel.
1.6 and 1.8-litre petrol engines
The enhanced 1.6-litre units will be equipped with a new variable intake manifold. Its compression ratio has been raised from 10.8:1 to 11.0:1. Both the modernised 1.6-litre engine and the enhanced 1.8-litre unit will benefit from revised engine control calibration.
The two petrol engines feature double continuous variable cam phasing. Using lightweight hydraulic vane type phasers, the angle of the camshafts is continuously varied against the crankshaft. Continuous double camshaft adjustment results in an optimised charge cycle, which in turn enables a higher power output and torque characteristics over a wide range of engine speeds, reduced emissions and fuel consumption.
On the 1.8-litre engine, a two-step intake manifold using a rotary sleeve instead of a flap-switching device minimizes airflow resistance at higher speed. Thanks to constant length runners, tonal quality is improved in comparison to conventional manifolds with inlets of unequal length.
Further engine features include a crankshaft of increased strength, aluminum pistons with oil spray cooling, re-engineered water jackets in the cylinder head and block, and integration of an oil/water heat exchanger in the cylinder block.
The 1.6-litre petrol engine delivers 124 hp at 6,200 rpm, when combined with a manual transmission. Performance data for the 1.8-litre engine, mated with a manual transmission, includes a maximum power output of 141 hp at 6,200 rpm, with maximum torque 176 Nm at 3,800 rpm. Top speed is 124 mph. In terms of acceleration, the 1.8-litre Cruze can sprint from 0-60mph in just 9.8 seconds.
Fuel consumption figures are common to both engines, with 42.8mpg. Both engines meet Euro 5 emission requirements. The 1.6-litre unit emits 153 g/km of CO2 whereas the 1.8-litre petrol engine produces 155 g/km of CO2.
Potent turbo-diesel engine for the compact segment
The 2.0-litre turbo diesel available in the Cruze Saloon and hatchbacks are among the most powerful engines in the segment. As of model year 2011, this engine features several enhancements over 2.0-litre turbo diesels previously used in the Cruze. In particular, the engine is now in compliance with Euro 5 emission criteria.
A double overhead camshaft replaces the single overhead cam design seen on older engines while the belt drive timing system is substituted by a chain drive timing system. Other changes include a new 'variable swirl' intake manifold and a closed loop fuel control system instead of an open loop system.
The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel uses high-pressure common rail, multiple fuel injection. Peak firing pressure within the combustion chamber has been increased to 180 bar as part of the modifications.
Thanks to the continually varied pitch of the vanes within the variable geometry turbocharger (with intercooler), the 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine delivers excellent throttle response, particularly when accelerating from low speeds.
Just like the 1.6 and 1.8-litre petrol engines, the 2.0-litre turbo diesel is mounted onto a cast-iron block and has oil-jet cooled pistons and aluminum cylinder heads. Efficient cooling is provided by a water jacket with horizontal fins. Improved exhaust-gas recirculation contributes to increased power and reduced emissions.
When coupled to the six-speed manual transmission introduced on model year 2011 vehicles, the 2.0 litre turbo diesel delivers 163 hp of output at 3,800 rpm, propelling the Cruze to a top speed of 127mph. Engine torque is impressive, with 360 Nm at 1750 rpm while specific power is rated at 81.6 hp/litre. Per kilometre, the engine emits 147 g of CO2 using a manual transmission.
Enhanced transmissions line-up
All engines can be combined with either a manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. The five-speed manual transmission coupled to the Cruze's petrol engines has needle bearings for all gears which ensure low friction gear meshing. Triple cone synchronisers for first and second gears enable smooth and easy shifting operation.
The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine will be mated with a six-speed manual transmission instead of the five-speed application seen in model year 2009 and 2010 vehicles. The on-axis design of the Hydra-Matic six-speed automatic transmission allows for more compact packaging and enhanced crumple zone performance. Adaptive shifting control and widely spaced ratios with a short first gear enable efficient take-off from standstill and long top gear for maximum fuel economy on the open road.
Ride and handling
The Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback is bound to attract attention with its sporty looks. Engineers have taken care to ensure that the car's handling matches the five door's agile appearance, and is relaxing but equally responsive. In so doing, they were able to draw valuable inspiration from their colleagues in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) who have worked to design what has recently been one of the most successful touring car designs (for details on the Cruze's success at the WTCC see Racing chapter).
A car's chassis and suspension systems, as well as its fundamental proportions, are the primary elements that determine its ride and handling characteristics. They also influence the noise and vibration heard and felt inside the vehicle. The Cruze Saloon and Hatchback feature two of the most rigid body structures in the segment, made from advanced steels throughout, as well as sophisticated front and rear suspensions.
Large front and rear disc brakes as well as a number of advanced electronic systems play their part in providing the heightened sense of solidity, stability and confident road command that typify the driving experience in the Cruze.
High-strength steels key to rigid body structure
With a wheelbase of 2,685 mm, a front track of 1,544 mm and a rear track of 1,558 mm, the Cruze hatchback has a proportionally wider stance than its predecessor, the Chevrolet Lacetti. This directly translates into outstanding road-holding.
The more mass-efficient and stiffer a car's structure, the easier it is to fine-tune its ride and handling performance to the specific requirements of different markets. The Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback and Saloon have a unitary structure, with the upper body and the car's frame engineered as a single unit.
Crucially, 62 percent of the Cruze's body frame consists of high-strength steels, about 50 percent more than the percentage used in its predecessors. Torsional stiffness is rated at 40 hertz, which places the Cruze among the best in its class.
Suspension ensures optimal balance of ride
The McPherson strut front suspension has side-load compensated front strut modules with specially shaped springs. These reduce the sliding friction caused by the bending load on the strut. Meanwhile, side load compensation allowed engineers to move the front wheels further outboard for a geometrically more stable footprint.
Lightweight front control arms made of aluminum facilitate easy and agile handling while hydraulic ride bushings effectively absorb road input loads, providing a high degree of ride isolation. Engineers also sought to ensure maximum wheel travel.
The front strut system yields a very competitive 76 mm of jounce travel. Rebound travel is also a competitive 96 mm.
At the rear, a compound crank suspension (torsion beam) combines the advantages of a conventional torsion beam - such as minimum space requirements - with low weight and consistent wheel camber control. A major advantage of the rear axle design is its contribution to the vehicle's lower center of gravity. The 60-litre fuel tank is placed between the wheels, which in turn enables a lower positioning of the rear seats.
Thanks to the 'magnetic-arc' welding process used to attach the beam to the trailing links, the thickness of the torsion beam may be varied. Different attachment angles between the beam and the trailing links are possible. Depending on the engine type, vehicle weight and body style, this allows for optimal roll-rate and roll-steer adjustments.
Blotting out noise and vibration
The 68.5 mm bushings fitted to the rear suspension are just one of a number of measures taken by engineers to successfully reduce noise and vibration.
A key enabler to the Cruze's quiet running is the isolation of the sub-frame by means of four rubber mountings. The extension of the front motor compartment side rails into the main longitudinal members in the cabin floor effectively disperses noise and vibration emanating from the powertrain.
The entire car body has been comprehensively insulated using an array of sealants. At interfaces between small body sections, for instance, damping patches were melted into place. This resulted in a 10 to 40 percent better damping performance when compared to what was previously achieved with adhesively applied materials. Elsewhere, nylon baffle packages were molded to fit into specific locations to disrupt the transfer of noise through hollow sections.
As an effective abatement to noise transfer, moreover, the front bulkhead panel is sandwiched with two damping mats. A pre-formed fiberglass sheet is attached to the underside of the bonnet, while pliable rubber seals are placed along the bonnet and between the rear edge of the bonnet and air induction panel.
Other sound dampening features include a three-layer acoustic headliner with a two-layer polyurethane outer skin for an upscale, woven fabric appearance, 14-ounce interior carpeting and a fibreglass blanket in the doors as a barrier against noise, airflow and water.
Fast-acting steering, secure braking
Less than three turns of the steering wheel are required lock-to-lock, giving the Cruze a turning diameter of 10.9 metres curb-to-curb. Steering is hydraulically power-assisted and provides the driver with a solid on-centre feel. Mid- and up-level cars feature rear parking sensors and cruise control.
Disc brakes, with single piston calipers, are fitted all round, 276 mm, ventilated at the front and 268 mm, solid at the rear, for the base model. On up-level variants, front/rear disc sizes are increased to 300/292 mm. The corrosion protected front and rear brake knuckles are made of aluminium, which helps reducing vehicle mass and fuel consumption.
From the very outset, excellent occupant safety was an overriding objective in developing the Cruze. With the Saloon having won top safety awards - including a 5-star Euro NCAP rating - expectations are high for the five-door variant. Since the fundamental structure of the two vehicles is close to identical, a very similar safety performance can be anticipated.
At the heart of the Chevrolet Cruze hatchback's safety design lies its rigid body structure. Both in terms of the materials used and the way in which it was built, the Cruze Hatchback represents a considerable improvement over Chevrolet's previous compact hatch. A set of sophisticated electronics has been included in the design, in order to prevent an accident from happening in the first place.
Load paths distribute impact energy
A vehicle's crashworthiness depends on the integrity of its structure and how it responds to an impact. The body frame integral around which the Chevrolet Cruze hatchback is built consists of a single welded unit made of full-length beams, pressings and box sections. The torsional rigidity of the Cruze Hatchback exceeds that of its predecessor by about 140 percent. It also has about 30 percent more spot welds.
62 percent of the Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback's structure incorporates high-strength steels. The front and rear crush zones have been engineered to collapse in a controlled fashion, so as to maintain the integrity of the passenger cabin.
At low speeds up to 4 km/h, the lightweight aluminum front and rear bumpers are designed to absorb light impacts, thereby minimising damage to the car's bodywork. Meanwhile, the long engine cradle and the frame rails carry the brunt of a possible collision. Together, the two structural elements create a continuous dual load path that effectively distributes the impact energy.
The side structure is a single piece. Welded tubular section-members were used to reinforce the door openings and the roof. The door beams are of ultra-high strength steels and are crucial in providing excellent protection against side impacts.
At the rear, the strong suspension cross member helps transfer loads to the sill areas after deformation of the longitudinal rails. The fuel tank has been placed low down between these rails and is capable of recovering from compression without rupturing.
Adding flexibility where it is needed
While the vehicle's structure is very strong, engineers also had the safety of pedestrians in mind when conceiving the car. The design of the bonnet provides more space between the bonnet and the engine. This minimises the chances of a direct collision between a pedestrian and the engine block. The bumper system, too, has been configured to reduce the likelihood of pedestrians sustaining injuries from the vehicle's structural components.
Inside the car, a collapsible pedal assembly folds away in moderate-to-severe impacts, making injuries to the driver's feet and legs less likely. Child safety seats can be secured in compliance with ISOFIX standards. Two steel loops at each rear outboard seating position and a set of three top tethers on the rear surface of the back seat enable secure attachment.
Six airbags and electronic stability control are standard
All Cruze Hatchbacks are equipped with five three-point seatbelts and six airbags. Apart from the driver and front passenger airbags, two airbags in the outboard edges of the driver and front passenger seat-backs ensure thorax and pelvis protection. Additional head and neck protection is provided by head-curtain airbags fitted into the roof rails between the A and C-pillars.
Both the airbags and the seatbelt pre-tensioners on the front seats are wired to and controlled by the Sensing and Diagnostic Module (SDM). This device enables the airbags to deploy in a matter of milliseconds. It receives information from sensors installed in the front bumper and the B-pillar.
Another standard feature in the Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback is Electronic Stability Control (ESC). ESC helps the driver maintain control in challenging driving situations and keeps the vehicle heading in the intended direction. It also enables more precise, controlled anti-lock braking performance as well as exceptional traction and steering stability.
The Traction Control System (TCS) enhances traction during starting up and acceleration by preventing the wheels from spinning. Anti-lock braking (ABS) allows the driver to brake and steer at the same time, helping to prevent potential collisions. An integrated electronic brake distribution (EBD) system proportions brake pressure during braking manoeuvres.
Specification and pricing
The new Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback offers a premium specification and great styling at a surprisingly affordable price.
With the range kicking off at only £13,995, the new model brings extra levels of sleekness and practicality to the motorsport-proven Cruze line-up, the Saloon variant of which won both the 2010 British Touring Car Drivers championship and both drivers' and manufacturers' titles in the World Touring Car series.
It also moves the Cruze into the mainstream - since 1988, the compact hatchback market has been the UK's most prolific market segment, especially among fleet customers.
Backed by a five-year warranty at retail, the hatchback variant of the Cruze is offered in three trim levels, and with a choice of two petrol or one diesel engine. Further engine variants will follow, including a smaller capacity diesel. All have Electronic Stability Control as standard, along with a host of safety features comparable to the five-star Euro NCAP rated Cruze Saloon.
The entry-level LS model, equipped with a 1.6 litre engine developing 124PS, comes with an array of standard equipment that is more commonly found on other manufacturers' mid-trim variants. Air conditioning, remote locking, electric-front windows, follow-me-home headlights, electrically-adjustable heated door mirrors and a quality radio/CD player with auxiliary input are all included in the price.
Moving up the range, the LT model starts at an extremely attractive £14,895 on-the-road for the 1.6-litre 124PS petrol variant. A 1.6 auto and a 163PS 2.0 VCDi diesel manual are also available.
LT trim includes extra premium features, such as cruise control, electric windows all round, parking distance sensors, 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, steering wheel audio controls and a leather steering wheel and gearknob.
Cruze buyers who opt for the LTZ trim level can specify a 141PS 1.8-litre petrol engine with five-speed manual or auto transmission, or the 163PS 2.0 VCDi with a choice of either six-speed manual or six-speed auto gearboxes.
Starting at £16,095, the LTZ trim offers exceptional levels of standard kit, including Bluetooth, a USB port, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, an electro-chromatic rear view mirror, 17-inch alloys and aluminium-effect trim on the instrument panel.
Top of the range is the LTZ with Executive Pack, which gets leather trim as standard, along with satellite navigation and heated front seats. Available only as a diesel, prices start at £19,295.