The all-new Cruze, the latest global offering from Chevrolet, opens up new opportunities for GMSA in the high volume compact ‘C’ segment of the market where the company has, up until now, not been represented. Value for money, together with exceptional build quality, are the hallmarks of this exciting new product from Chevrolet that brings design appeal and a new quality focus to this segment.
First shown at the Paris Motor Show late in 2008 and shortly thereafter at the Johannesburg International Motor Show in October, the Cruze builds on the new direction for the Chevrolet brand first evidenced in the Captiva – one of South Africa’s most popular SUVs – and more recently in the new Aveo sedan and Hatch.
Compact sedan that introduces new global Chevrolet design language
Ground hugging ‘four-door coupé’ styling
Focus on panel fit and overall quality
Engineered to meet most stringent safety ratings
Flowing interior design with ‘dual cockpit’ feel
Class leading rear passenger space
Choice of 1.6 or 1.8 new generation petrol engines with full variable valve timing on the 1,8 litre motor
Option of diesel power with 2.0 litre turbo-charged common rail injection engine offering fuel economy as low as 5,6 l/100 km over combined cycle
Superb stability, handling and ride characteristics
This new global model from Chevrolet raises the bar in terms of design appeal, build quality and overall refinement. Backed up by a range of new generation efficient and sporty engines, the Cruze is the leading example of a new design language for the Chevrolet brand.
“Excellent value for money and a focus on family motoring have always been a feature of Chevrolet products,” says Malcolm Gauld, GMSA’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “The Cruze delivers on these aspects like no other Chevrolet model before. This latest product redefines the promise of the Chevrolet experience with its fine styling – inside and out – engineering, choice of materials used and overall quality. We firmly believe that this latest product in our line-up will open up exciting opportunities for us in the volume market in South Africa.”
From the time that pen was first put to paper for the design of the Cruze the focus was on satisfying global needs but with a firm bias towards European tastes and standards with which South African motorists are closely aligned. The Cruze launch in South Africa follows just months after its release to wide acclaim in Europe in March of this year.
The Cruze design was developed by a multi-national design team, based in Korea, with significant inputs from General Motors colleagues in Germany, Australia, and the United States. This international team was tasked with delivering a clean-sheet, compact, notchback sedan that would re-energise the Chevrolet brand in global markets.
“Our goal was to be revolutionary rather than evolutionary,” says Taewan Kim, Vice President of the GM DAT Design Centre in Asia. Both inside and out, the international design team has developed a new global design language for the Chevrolet brand that introduces fresh visual elements while leveraging the potential to express the traditional Chevrolet design cues in new ways and reinforce traditional brand values.”
The exterior of the Cruze is defined by an arching roofline that extends from the steeply raked windshield to the slim rear pillars. This, combined with a relatively short rear deck, provides the unique four-door coupé-like appearance of the Cruze, first-of-a-kind styling for a vehicle in this class.
The Cruze has a ground hugging stance with all wheels located at the corner extremities of the tautly defined body. A distinctive concave shoulder line flows along the side of the vehicle into the rear deck lid – a feature that is set to become a new signature Chevrolet design element. The external appearance is reinforced by clean uncluttered bodywork that is free of mouldings or trim.
The signature dual-opening grille carries the traditional Chevrolet ‘bowtie’ with an air of confidence. Distinctive front headlight clusters have ‘jewel-effect’ detailing. The headlights sweep upwards, arrow-like, to a point on the front fenders. The rear end styling features neat flush mounted tail light clusters, each moulded with two circular shapes that echo the traditional Chevrolet ‘twin-light’ styling motif.
The appealing looks are complemented by a high level of aero efficiency with a class competitive 0,31 co-efficient of drag for the Cruze. Build quality and attention to detail with excellent fit and finish for panels, panel gaps and shut lines is typical of the expectations of vehicles in a far higher price category and give the Cruze a hewn-from-solid character.
The five-seater cabin conveys a sporty yet warm ambience. The interior is characterised by harmonious, flowing lines with quality soft-touch materials used throughout. This is a high quality interior that stands out amongst competitors.
Notable features include the flush fit of panels with tight tolerances on all gaps, and generous space for passengers. Rear passenger leg, head and shoulder room is excellent despite the signature coupé looks and sloping roofline.
The core interior design theme is a modern expression of perhaps the most famous of all Chevrolet interior design cues, the ‘twin cockpit’ layout featured in the Corvette designed to provide both driver and passenger of a feeling of being at one with the vehicle. Trim inserts on the dashboard are complemented by matching inserts in the seat trim and door panels.
The focal point of the ‘dual cockpit’ experience is the neatly integrated centre console that houses the infotainment and air conditioning controls and displays. The console is mounted at a shallow angle and has a flowing, free form that eliminates the traditional ‘picture frame’ defined layouts common in other vehicles.
The use of advanced three dimensional computer modelling was extended for the design of the main instrument cluster to provide the most user friendly layout. Analogue dials are used and are backlit by LEDs for clear, crisp definition in white and ice blue colours.
For the construction of the seats, the Cruze team chose a wire mesh construction that offers more even weight distribution than conventional wire frame type seats. Foam filling is on the firmer side and deep bolstering is provided for the front and rear seat cushions and seat backs.
The high quality upholstery employs a French seam stitching technique that provides excellent durability and eliminates the possibility of a ‘stretched seam’ developing over time. Travel for fore and aft adjustment of the front seats is the longest of all competitors in the compact car ‘C’ market segment.
Manually controlled air conditioning is standard on L and LS specification models. A dual-zone automatic climate control system is standard for the LT specification level. A particulate and odour filtration system is fitted to all models to pre-filter air before it enters the interior of the vehicle.
A radio/CD combination with RDS is standard equipment across the range. The infotainment system on all models is MP3 compatible and an auxiliary input for an iPod or MP3 player is provided. Instrumentation includes an on-board computer and ‘Triple Info Display’ on most models.
Vehicle Construction and Safety Systems
The body structure of the Cruze is amongst the stiffest in its class. This taut and strong structure is fundamental to the suppression of NVH (Noise Vibration and Harshness) as well as providing a high level of occupant safety in the event of a collision. It also plays a pivotal role in optimising ride, handling and stability.
As a vehicle co-operatively engineered at General Motors facilities in Australia, Germany, Asia and the United States the new Cruze draws on GM best practices around the world for key systems such as body structure, suspension, safety, and electrical systems.
The core element of the Cruze is a unitary construction fabricated from steel beam sections, pressings and box sections that provide an overall torsional rigidity of 17,66 KNm/degree of deflection, an impressive number for a vehicle in this class. Almost 65% of the structure is made from high-strength steels (HSS) and a high frequency of spot welds ensures optimised accuracy in manufacture and overall strength and integrity of the vehicle.
The core structure of the Cruze is designed around a set of efficient load paths that assist in absorbing impact energy and directing it away from the vehicle occupants in the event of a collision from virtually any direction. Full-length beams and enhancements to the side sills, B-pillars and A-pillars make use of high strength steel and tailored blank processing contribute towards the excellent crashworthiness of the Cruze.
Energy absorbing front and rear crumple zones are designed to deform in a stable and progressive manner in order to absorb collision energy as efficiently as possible so as to maintain the integrity of the passenger compartment.
The passenger compartment itself is protected by tubular-section members that effectively make up a safety cage by framing the door openings and providing support for the roof.
The combination of single-piece side members and ultra-high strength steel door beams provides effective protection in the event of a side impact. The front and rear bumper skins are designed to absorb light impact energy, typically impacts of 4km/h and below, to minimise damage to the bodywork.
Three point seat belts are provided for all five seats and provision is made for the attachment of Isofix child seats on the outer two rear seats.
On the Cruze 1.6 L driver and front passenger airbags are provided as are side curtain airbags. On the LS and LT specification grades seat side airbags for the front occupants and curtain side airbags are fitted as well for a total of six airbags. A collapsible pedal assembly helps prevent the driver’s feet from being trapped in the event of a severe impact.
Active safety measures include ABS anti-lock braking (all models) with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Traction control (TCS) fitted as standard on the 1.6 LS & 1.8 LS and 1.8 LT models.
Aside from the obvious safety benefits of a strong and rigid body structure, a torsionally stiff structure also makes it easier for engineers to isolate residual powertrain, road and wind noise for high levels of cabin comfort. The Cruze has achieved interior acoustic and wind noise ratings that rank with the best in class for this segment.
The Cruze features two new all-aluminium petrol engines with capacities of 1.6 and 1.8 litres. Both are twin-cam 16-valve units with variable valve timing for both inlet and exhaust systems on the 1.8 litre models. A 2.0 litre 16-valve turbo diesel engine will be offered in the Cruze from the second quarter of 2010.
The 1.6 litre engine produces 83 kW @ 6400 r/min with maximum torque of 153 Nm @ 3800 r/min. Corresponding figures for the 1.8 litre engine are 104 kW @ 6200 r/min and 176 Nm @ 3800 r/min. This engine delivers 85% of its torque from just 2000 r/min through to 6300 r/min.
The 1.6 litre Cruze will accelerate from rest to 100 km/h in 12,5 seconds while the 1.8 litre version achieves this in 10.0 seconds. Combined cycle fuel consumption, as measured by GM test engineers, is 6,7 l/100km and 6,8 l/100km respectively (all figures for manual transmission models). The 1.6 litre engine is available in the L and LS specification grades while the 1.8 litre engine is available in LS and LT trim. Drive is via a 5-speed manual transmission for the L and LS models while the 1.8 LT is fitted with a 6-speed automatic transmission – a segment first for Chevrolet.
The new 16-valve turbo diesel that will become available in the Cruze during the second quarter of 2010 features high pressure common rail fuel injection and a variable geometry turbocharger. While the full specification for this engine is still to be announced, torque is currently quoted as 320 Nm delivered from just 2000 r/min. Fuel economy could be as low as 5,6 l/100km which will give the Cruze diesel a cruising range of over 1000 kilometres.
All three engines and transmissions are mounted on a sub-frame that is mounted to the chassis via four rubber bushes. This mounting system assists in insulating the engine from the chassis and reduces the transmission of engine noise and vibration into the interior of the vehicle.
Suspension, Brakes and Steering
The suspension, braking and steering systems of the Cruze were developed on European roads and are designed to meet the demanding preferences of European drivers with which South African expectations are closely aligned. The Cruze offers the driver a feeling of being connected to the road with an excellent balance between ride comfort and agility.
The Cruze has a wide footprint that contributes to stable handling. The front track is 1544mm with rear track a further 14mm wider at 1558mm. The wheelbase is 2685mm. This wide stance offers inherently good road holding characteristics.
The front suspension is a McPherson strut system with side-load compensation to reduce sliding friction. The front sub-frame provides a firm location for the inboard mounting of the lower A-arms. Hydraulic bushings – a feature more commonly found on more expensive vehicles – are used to provide a higher degree of isolation from road noise and a more controlled absorption of ride input loads.
At the rear an advanced compound crank (torsion beam) layout is used. This enables consistent control of camber and offers significant savings in both weight and space.
The double-walled, U-shaped beam is attached to trailing links through a patented ‘magnetic-arc’ welding process. This production technology allows the beam’s thickness and attachment angles to be varied according to different engine specifications and vehicle weights to facilitate the fine tuning of roll-rate and roll-steer characteristics of individual models to ensure that each is optimised.
On the LS and LT models, brakes are vented discs at the front and solid discs at the rear. A 4-channel ABS anti-lock brake system with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) is standard. The L model has vented front disks and 4-channel ABS for excellent stopping performance.
A power assisted rack and pinion steering system with a quick ratio (less than three turns lock-to lock) is fitted across the range.