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Chevrolet Cruze Station Wagon 1.7 VCDi LT

Click to view picture gallery“Two things will attract buyers to
  Chevrolet
s latest Cruze family
  member like blood in the water will
  draw in a Great White. These are
  that the ‘Station Wagon
is an estate;
  and its headline 62.7mpg combined
  fuel consumption figure...


FIRST, LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT its estate credentials. The Cruze Station Wagon measures a not-too-big and not-too-small 4.6 metres from the iconic Chevy golden bow tie on its double grille to its tidy tail a good size for today's congested roads. Behind the rear seats is a metre-long 500-litre (to the window line) boot.

Drop the 60:40 split/fold rear seatbacks — they fold virtually flat — and you'll have 1,478 litres at your disposal. In fact this is boosted by some out-of-sight extra storage (four trays) under the boot floor as well as floor bins behind the rear wheel arches. A deep, full-width storage tray behind the rear seatbacks and the luggage compartment blind comes in very handy.

Talking of which, the luggage cover can retract upwards in guides set in the rear three-quarter side panels if you only want to access the rearmost end of the boot, thus saving you a stretch into the boot when you need to close it again.

“However you plan on
using the space, the
Cruze Station Wagon can
convincingly carry out
a wide range of duties,
whether it’s pandering to
a growing family or
providing maximum
versatility for proactive
outdoorsy types.
..”
A retractable dog guard takes care of man's best friend while loading and unloading is made easier by a low (knee-height) sill. And if you still need more there are slim roof rails running the full length of the roof.

Space isn't just for cargo: as it says in the blurb, the Station Wagon has been designed for families and individuals with an active lifestyle. Get up close and personal with this estate you'll quickly find that that's absolutely true. Front and rear there's a fist of headroom for average-sized adults plus plenty of leg, knee, and foot room in the back where three adults can travel side-by-side although a wide centre armrest tends to encourage two to share.

However you plan on using the space, the Cruze Station Wagon can convincingly carry out a wide range of duties, whether it's pandering to a growing family or providing maximum versatility for proactive outdoorsy types.

The Cruze's other major 'pull' is the fuel economy. Certainly the new 1.7-litre Vcdi intercooled turbodiesel under the SW's bonnet is the most efficient Cruze engine ever. Officially it returns 62.6mpg on the combined cycle ('average' to us laymen); (52.3 urban (around town) and 70.6 extra-urban (touring). It's also surprisingly 'green' with Stop-Start and CO2 emissions of just 119g/km. That's frugal.

So how did it fare in MotorBar's hands? We should mention that there is an Eco mode (the Stop-Start function) and although we kept it switched off (in the interests of getting the 'worst' real-life consumption) we still recorded a satisfying and plastic-friendly 58.2mpg over 700+ miles crammed into a week's hard testing. Much of that time saw our test Cruze in maxed-out, load-lugger mode. Kinder drivers than us could quite feasibly reach the 'Promised Land' and see 60+mpg.

Power-wise it pumps out 128bhp and strong torque of 221lb ft — while it's useful to know that it will accelerate from standstill to the benchmark 62mph in 10.4 seconds, what's far more important in the real world is that this 1.7-litre turbodiesel until serves up punchy in-gear flexibility. Both fifth and sixth deliver perky pick-up on the motorway. For the record, the Station Wagon runs to 124mph.

“With 128bhp and strong
torque of 221lb ft,
this 1.7-litre turbodiesel
until serves up punchy
in-gear flexibility.
..”
Also for the record, the other three engine choices are 1.6 and 1.8 petrol units and a 2.0-litre Vcdi turbodiesel with 160bhp and 265lb ft that should, officially, do 45.5mpg.

Space and economy aside, the Cruze Station Wagon is something of a dark horse — push it on country roads and you'll find that it's sporty lines and muscular stance aren't just window dressing signed off by the marketing boys; the SW is actually dynamically good enough to make it satisfying to drive.

Actually, the Cruze goes beyond just being just a workhorse — it handles predictably, holds the road well and keeps its line through the twisty bits. It also steers fine, stops and goes smoothly (the brakes are discs at each corner). It also rides well (even better when it's fully laden) and the eager to please turbodiesel is keen to press on whenever you are.

The cabin is pleasant, airy and smartly trimmed with a 'dual cockpit'-style fascia that runs neatly into the doors. A driver's information screen between the individually hooded speedo and rev-counter displays easily readable white-on-blue information such as range, trips, digital speed, average mpg, etc — all accessed via the button on the left-hand stalk. All four dials are illuminated by an attractive pale blue light that's easy on the eyes and good for clarity.

The gearlever is close, in a raised console housing the AirCon controls that blends into the centre stack. The large rotary knurled knobs for the blower and temperature are easy to use on the move without looking down. Not only that, but the six-speeder's gearlever has a slick change action. From the driver's seat visibility is good all round.

“Finished in a fetching
light blue metallic
paint that set-off its
chrome and
colour-coded external
detailing, the Cruze
SW looked every bit as
smart and desirable
as the Jaguar Sportbrake
estate it was parked next
to on our drive.
..”
Dial up cold air and you get lots of it and very quickly — exactly as you'd want it in on a hot day. All switchgear is where you'd logically expect it to be so no stress or surprises when driving even for the very first time.

The leather-rimmed three-spoke wheel has plenty of height and reach adjustment and buttons/switches for the cruise control and audio. Very comfy, well-shaped and nicely bolstered front seats are upholstered in a fabric. Both are height adjustable and there are height-adjustable seatbelts.

There's a traditional handbrake. No left foot rest but the footwell is long and you can extend your leg fully if you need to stretch. And there are plenty of bins and cubbies along with a large lit 'n' lined lockable glovebox, glasses holder, and handy lidded storage box in the top of the dash to keep your Cruze de-cluttered.

The mid-level LT trim provides all the essentials: AirCon, cruise control, rear parking sensors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated and power-adjustable door mirrors, electric windows, roof rails, and a set of good-looking 16-inch alloys. Safety kit is also well-specced with six airbags (front, side and roof curtain), and Electronic Stability Control. And it's safety is endorsed by a five-star EuroNCAP rating.

Finished in a fetching light blue metallic paint (Mystic Moonlight Blue) that set-off its chrome and colour-coded external detailing, the Cruze SW looked every bit as smart and desirable as the Jaguar Sportbrake estate it was parked next to on our drive. This Chevrolet Station Wagon certainly lives up to its name — drive it hard or go easy and it just cruises along. A very together car that's very easy to live with.—
MotorBar

Chevrolet Cruze Station Wagon 1.7 VCDi LT | 19,225
Top speed: 124mph | 0-62mph: 10.4 seconds | Average Test MPG: 58.2mpg
Power: 128bhp | Torque: 221lb ft | CO2 119g/km