First drive review: Chevrolet Cruze SW
Chevrolet has sold more than 1.3m Cruzes worldwide. Now they've added an estate model to the range.
What is it?
This is the Cruze that buyers have been asking for. It's the estate version of the Cruze with 1,478 litres of boot space when the seats are folded down, and joins the five-door hatchback in the range. However, the estate's arrival has affected the Cruze four-door saloon's sales – it's now order only.
Well, apart from the additional bodywork at the rear, the Cruze SW also brings in a facelift to the Cruze range. The front now receives a slightly tweaked look with a new grille and fog-lamp surrounds, and there's a new multimedia system in the cabin as well called MyLink.
What's under the bonnet?
Quite simply, two petrols and a diesel. The petrols come in the flavour of a 128bhp 1.6 and a 139bhp 1.8. The pick of the range is the 128bhp 1.7-litre diesel. At launch we also tried a 1.4-litre petrol and a 2.0-litre diesel, but there are no current plans to introduce these to the UK yet.
What's the kit like?
Just like the five-door hatchback, in fact; Chevy is generous with its list of standard equipment. The range kicks off at £15,375 for the 1.6-litre LS which comes with air con, MP3 connectivity and electric mirrors. Prices top out at £19,785 for the 1.7-litre LTZ Nav model which comes with alloy wheels, climate control, sat nav, cruise control and parking sensors.
The Cruze is based on the Vauxhall Astra platform so the Astra Sports Tourer is an obvious rival, but it's more expensive. There's also the Ford Focus estate, the Kia Cee'd SW and the Hyundai i30 SW. But the Cruze is, on the whole, the best value for money in its class.
Is it any good?
It is yes, but we'd recommend trying different versions. Petrol-engined Cruze SWs are soft, wallowy and aren't involving to drive. However, the diesel version – thanks to more weight over the front wheels – is far more pleasurable to drive. The six-speed automatic gearbox in the 1.8-litre LT model is not very good, either.
The Autoblog verdict
We've never been huge fans of the Cruze range, deeming it to be the Vauxhall Astra's poorer cousin. But the SW changes that – a Ford Focus may be more fun to drive, but few rivals match the SW's package of attractive styling and great value for money. The Cruze is no longer a left-field choice.