By FOCUS REPORTER
THE family-sized hatchback segment is one that has been dominated for many years by products like the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.
Chevrolet has come to the party, seeking its slice of the sales pie. The American automaker recently launched the Cruze Hatchback on our shores. It takes all the good points we enjoyed so much in the sedan version and adopted them to a slightly more versatile body format – and it still gets our thumbs up.
From a looks perspective, the Cruze Hatchback remains essentially the same as its Sedan counterpart, albeit with the obvious hatched rear. Up front we see Chevrolet’s familiar dual-port grille, with the golden bowtie emblem proudly sitting in the middle and an angular pair of headlights.
Inside it’s a comfortable, roomy area with ample space for the family. The driver benefits from a cockpit-like layout, where controls fall easily to hand and everything is well-placed. Now a hatchback offers a greater deal of practicality, making the loading of wider items easier in the rear. And it is no different with this Cruze: it offers a very healthy 413 litres of rear cargo space. The interior of the Cruze Hatchback also boasts a host of neat storage spaces and cupholders for the sake of convenience.
Even the entry-level 1.6 LS model comes with a generous array of standard features. The exterior gets colour coded bumpers and door handles as well as 16-inch alloy wheels. Inside, you get a leather wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, air-conditioner, electric front and rear windows, a six-speaker sound system with Bluetooth and a USB port for your music player and controls for the audio system on the steering wheel. But you can have leather upholstery and a sunroof as optional extras too.
Starting off the range is the 1.6 LS, which is powered by a 1598cc engine, serving up 91-Kilowatts and 155 Newton metres of torque. It will return fuel consumption figures in the region of 6 to 8 litres per 100 kilometres. Then there is the 1.8 LS MT, which has a 1796cc engine capacity. This produces 104 Kilowatts and 176 Newton metres of torque. Expect consumption figures in the region of 9 litres per 100 kilometres from this particular powerplant. On both models, power is driven to the front wheels, via a five-speed manual transmission.
Being a family vehicle, you would want all the safety features to come as standard. And they certainly do. Six airbags throughout the range, anti-lock brakes, brake assist and electronic brake force distribution are quite assuring.
Pricing starts off at R212 400 for the Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback 1.6 LS. And the 1.8 LS costs R224 800. Pricing includes a 3-year/60 000 kilometre service plan, a 5-year anti-corrosion warranty, road side assist for 5 years or 120 000 kilometres and service intervals are every 15 000 kilometres.
The Cruze Hatchback delivers on the promise we’ve come to expect from Chevrolet, of quality, value-for-money offerings. It looks poised to build on the success of its sedan sibling.