At the Fillmore Theater in Detroit this evening, Chevrolet finally took the wraps off the North American version of the second-generation Cruze compact and it looks like a big step forward from the current model. When the Cruze debuted here five years ago, it was something of a watershed for General Motors, the first compact car from the Detroit automaker that was truly competitive with the import brands. It wasn’t perfect, being a bit tight inside and somewhat porky at the scales. Nonetheless, it was so much better than anything GM had built to date that it sold like gangbusters with more than 3 million sales globally since 2008. This time around, Chevrolet has sought to address all the complaints we had about the original and raise the bar in the segment.
Like all of the other new cars that GM is launching this year, the Cruze has gone on a substantial diet, losing about 250-pounds. Like the Malibu, Camaro, Volt and Cadillac CT6, GM has accomplished this through a combination of shaving weight throughout the vehicle including the structure, powertrain and other components. Multi-disciplinary optimization has been used with extensive simulation to trade off different factors and determine the right balance. The new body has more high-strength steel and aluminum is used in the suspension while even the new engines have gone on a diet. Based on the weights of the current model, the new Cruze should tip the scales at around 3,000-pounds or so.
The wheelbase has been stretched by 0.6-inch and combined with new seats, second row legroom and knee room are more competitive than before although it’s still a bit tight. Compared to the more upright looking first generation, the Cruze has been given a similar wind tunnel treatment to the Volt for a sleeker profile and reduced drag with a coefficient that is now down to 0.29. From bumper to bumper, Cruze now casts a shadow that is 2.7-inches longer but the roof is a bit low and the front and rear glass have more rake. The stacked “dual-port” grille is a Chevrolet signature element shared with the Malibu and Volt.
Inside, the Chevy design team has put effort into sculpting the door panels, dash and center console to improve the perception of roominess even beyond the actual dimensional changes. Premium features like wireless phone charging that supports both Qi and Powermat standards as well as heated rear seats are available on upper trim levels.
For North America, Cruze will have two all-new powertrain options, a 1.4-liter turbocharged and direct-injected gasoline four-cylinder and a 1.6-liter turbodiesel. The 1.4 turbo is the latest member of GM’s global small gas engine family that includes direct-injected powerplants ranging from 1.0-liter three-cylinders to 1.5-liter four cylinders like the one in the new 2016 Malibu. While the 1.4 has the same displacement as the outgoing Cruze engine, this a completely new design with an aluminum block replacing the iron block of the old engine. The engine contributes 44-pounds of the weight savings in the new Cruze.
Output is now rated at 153-horsepower and a very impressive 177 lb.-ft. of torque from 2,000-4,000 rpm. That should give excellent driveability under all conditions, especially with the reduced mass and GM vice-president of global powertrain development Dan Nicholson promised a 13% reduction in acceleration time from 0-60 mph at 8-seconds with the gas engine thanks to the combination of lower mass and higher output. The 1.4 will be offered with either the new 6T35 six-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual gearbox.
As in the base Malibu and Impala, North American cars with the gas engine and automatic transmisson will get auto stop-start as standard equipment. Manual transmission cars in China and Brazil will also get auto stop-start although it won’t be available here yet. Even with the improved performance, the standard Cruze is expected to get 40 mpg highway compared to 36 mpg for the current 1.8-liter and 38 mpg for the current 1.4 turbo.
In addition to performance and efficiency improvements, Nicholson said that GM put a lot of effort into improving the refinement of the new engine family. He claims the 1.4 turbo is 50-percent quieter than Volkswagen’s similar 1.4-liter turbo four. Only time will tell how true this claim is.
Aiming for diesel leadership
When you think diesel cars in North America today, the first brands that come to mind are typically Volkswagen and Audi. Nicholson is aiming to change that and wants GM to be considered the leader in North American passenger car diesels. VW sold 37,000 diesel Jettas in the US market in 2014 while only 6,000 customers bought the current Cruze diesel. While VW has heavily promoted its diesels, Chevrolet has been virtually silent on the Cruze but that’s about to change.
In late 2013, Opel launched an all-new 1.6-liter diesel in Europe that was developed entirely in-house. Dubbed the “Flüstern” diesel or whisper diesel in English, GM’s powertrain center Turin, Italy did the base design work with help from facilities in Russelsheim, Germany and Pontiac, Michigan. GM isn’t giving a lot of details on the U.S. market version until closer to production but promise that this will be the most fuel efficient non-hybrid car in America. The European market version is available in 110-hp and 134-hp variants with the latter also generating 236 lb.-ft. of torque. Like GM’s diesel-powered heavy duty pickups and vans, the Cruze diesel will also be compatible with B20 biodiesel from the get-go.
If this new engine is truly as quiet as claimed and offers fuel economy better than then 40 mpg combined I recently got with the old car, even a modicum of promotion from GM should see it do extremely well. Like the current diesel, it will only be available with an automatic transmission. Given Nicholson’s aim to make GM the American leader in passenger diesels, we may well see this engine in other future applications as well.
Cruze buyers in some overseas markets will also have the option of a normally aspirated 1.5-liter gas engine from the same small engine family, but that powerplant won’t be available in North America.
The old Cruze was one of the launch vehicles for the original Chevy MyLink infotainment system in 2011 and the new model will be equipped with the latest generation system. Like the Malibu and Volt, the Cruze gets a large tablet-like touch screen display in the center of the dash to display everything. The base system gets a seven-inch display while premium systems bump screen size to eight-inches. Android and iPhone users will be able to pair there smartphones and take advantage of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay to run their favorite navigation, messaging and media apps. The embedded OnStar telematics system includes 4G LTE connectivity and a built-in WiFi hotspot so passengers can surf the net while you drive.
Along with the stronger structure, the Cruze now has 10 airbags standard and offers a number of advanced driver assist features. Radar-based blind zone and cross-traffic alerts monitor the rear corners while a forward looking camera provides collision alerts and lane keeping assist.
Chevrolet will keep building the current Cruze at the Lordstown, Ohio factory until later this fall when it switches over to the new model which goes on sale in early 2016.
2016 CHEVROLET CRUZE PRELIMINARY SPECIFICATIONS (NORTH AMERICA)
|Models:||2016 Chevrolet Cruze L, LS, LT and Premier|
|Body style / driveline:||four-door, 5-passenger front-engine transaxle; front-wheel-drive compact car|
|Construction:||steel body frame integral (unibody) with front and rear crumple zones; galvanized steel front fenders, hood, roof, door panels, one-piece bodyside outer panel, thermal plastic olefin (TPO) bumper fascias|
|EPA vehicle class:||compact car|
|Manufacturing location:||Lordstown, Ohio (U.S. market)|
|Key competitors:||Toyota Corolla; Honda Civic; Ford Focus; Hyundai Elantra; Nissan Sentra; Volkswagen Jetta|
|Type:||1.4L turbo DOHC I-4|
|Displacement (cu in / cc):||85 / 1399|
|Bore & stroke (in / mm):||2.91 x 3.20 / 74 x 81.3|
|Block material:||cast aluminum|
|Cylinder head material:||cast aluminum|
|Valvetrain:||overhead camshafts, four-valves per cylinder, continuously variable valve timing|
|Ignition system:||individual coil on plug|
|Fuel delivery:||direct injection with electronic throttle control|
|Horsepower(hp / kW @ rpm):||153 / 113 @ 5600 – SAE certified|
|Torque(lb.-ft. / Nm @ rpm):||177 / 240 @ 2000-4000 – SAE certified|
|Recommended fuel:||regular unleaded|
|Emissions controls:||close-coupled and underfloor catalytic converters; Quick-Sync 58x ignition system; returnless fuel rail; fast light-off O2 sensor|
|GM-estimated fuel economy:||40 mpg highway|
|Type:||M326-speed manual||Hydra-Matic 6T356-speed automatic|
|Gear ratios: (:1):|
|Final drive ratio:||3.83||3.53|
Chassis / Suspension
|Suspension (front):||independent, MacPherson strut-type with side-loaded strut modules, specifically tuned coil springs, direct-acting stabilizer bar (hollow); hydraulic ride bushings|
|Suspension (rear):||L, LS and LT: compound crank (torsion beam) with double-walled, U-shaped profile at the rearPremier: Z-link|
|Steering type:||rack-mounted electric power steering|
|Steering ratio:||L, LS and LT: 17.2:1Premier: 16:1|
|Steering wheel turns, lock-to-lock:||TBD|
|Turning circle (ft / m):||34.4 / 10.5|
|Type:||power 4-wheel anti-lock disc w/ESC and Duralife rotors|
|Rotor diameter (in / mm) and caliper type:||front: 10.8 / 276 vented; single-piston w/cast iron caliperrear: 10.4 / 264 solid; single-piston w/aluminum caliper|
|Total swept area (mm2):||front: 35,409rear: 27,646|
Wheels / Tires
|Wheel size and type:||15-inch steel (std. L)16-inch steel (std. LS)
16-inch alloy (std. on LT)
17-inch alloy (avail. on LT; std. on Premier)18-inch alloy (avail. on Premier)
|Tires:||15-inch: 195/65R15 ALS16-inch: 215/60R16 ALS17-inch: 225/45R17 ALS
18-inch: 225/40R18 ALS
|Wheelbase (in / mm):||106.3 / 2700|
|Overall length (in / mm):||183.7 / 4666|
|Overall width (in / mm):||70.6 / 1795|
|Overall height (in / mm):||57.4 / 1458|
|Track (in / mm):||front: 60.8 / 1544rear: 61.3 / 1557|
|Curb weight (lb / kg):||TBD|
|Seating capacity:||2 / 3|
|Headroom (in / mm):||38.9 / 988 (front)
37.3 / 948 (rear)
|Legroom (in / mm):||42 / 1068 (front)
36.1 / 917 (rear)
|Shoulder room (in / mm):||54.8 / 1394 (front)
53.7 / 1366 (rear)
|Hip room (in / mm):||53.1 / 1351 (front)51.9 / 1319 (rear)|
|Knee room (in / mm):||TBD|
|Passenger volume(cu ft / L):||TBD|
|Cargo volume (cu ft / L):||TBD|
|Fuel capacity (gal / L):||12.75 / 48.2 (LS with auto. trans.)13.74 / 52 (all other models)|
|Engine oil (qt / L):||TBD|
|Cooling system (qt / L):||TBD|
Note: Information shown is current at time of publication. Visit http://media.gm.com for updates.