On paper, this should be a no-contest – with a 2.0-litre, 164 bhp, 38.7 kgm diesel engine, the ‘new’ Chevrolet Cruze should be laughing and running rings around the Jetta; as far as output goes, it’s got the German’s number. However, as with most things in life, things are not as straightforward as they seem at first – allow me to explain over the next few pages.
Firstly, was the Cruze suffering from a mid-life crisis? The car’s been around for just over three years now, and has been responsible for keeping GM’s books in reasonably healthy shape – it’s the segment leader too, although Toyota will have a few things to say about that. It was never short of power, and its 148 bhp engine was quite the bomb in a straight line; features-wise, there was not much to complain about, either. Why the upgrade, then?
The answer lies in the new ‘Family Z’ diesel unit from GM, which has globally replaced the older diesel – with more power, an all-new powertrain and an extra cog in the gearbox, the Cruze receives these benefits too. The Jetta, on its part, has been impressing us with its overall high quality – and disappointing us too, by skimping on features that are found in cars even in segments below it. This should be an interesting battle, no?
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