We've always believed that the smooth-riding Chevrolet Cruze range would really start to shine if GM slotted its 1.4-litre turbopetrol engine under the bonnet and that's finally happened.
The new 1.4 replaces the previous normally aspirated 1.8-litre unit that struggled at Gauteng altitudes. Credited with 103kW, between 4900 and 6000rpm, the new 1.4T might make 1kW less than the old 1.8, but it'll lose a lot less of that at altitude. The smaller turbo unit also has a 24Nm torque advantage, pelting out 200Nm of twisting force between 1850 and 4900rpm.
While it lacks the sophisticated direct injection system found in many modern turbo motors, GM's 1.4T does have an idle-stop system as standard. This, along with the engine's small capacity and the six-speed manual gearbox, helps it achieve a claimed average fuel consumption figure of just 5.8 litres per 100km, which equates to a CO2 emissions figure of 135g/km.
According to GM, the 1.4T LS, which is available in sedan and hatchback variants, will run from 0-100km/h in 9.5 seconds and run out of steam at 195km/h. Not that many owners are likely to test that theory; the Cruze is about cruising and owners will appreciate the overtaking pace offered by the new engine.
Owners taking to the open road will appreciate the standard cruise control and the six-speaker CD/MP3/Aux/USB audio system. Tick the options list and you can have leather seats, automatic climate control, rear park assist, an electric sunroof and 17-inch rims (16-inch alloys are standard).
Along with introducing the 1.4T, GM has made some small changes to the rest of the range. Two new colours - Mars Stone Blue and Blue Sapphire - are now available and all models gain LED door mirror-mounted indicators. Furthermore, the hatch now has a chrome belt line and the entry-level 1.6 sedan now has ESC stability control as standard. Base spec, however, means just front and side airbags while LS models gain curtain bags.
1.6 LS - R227 000
1.4T LS - R242 100
1.6 - R219 100
1.6 LS - R229 200
1.4T LS - R 244 700
2.0D LS - R275 100
2.0D LT - R296 200