ESTATE CAR sales seem relatively unaffected by motoring trends – there is always a need for a capacious, practical, versatile vehicle for family and business use, so despite the advent of MPVs and crossovers, most manufacturers keep an estate car in their line-up.
One of the lesser-known models in this sector is the Chevrolet Cruze Station Wagon,
sometimes overlooked despite being cheaper than more mainstream rivals, and with an outstanding five-year warranty which also includes servicing and roadside assistance.
Prices start at £15,680 , with top-spec models at £20,890. Petrol versions have 1.6 or 1.8 litre engines and there are also a 1.7-litre and a 2.0 litre diesel engines.
The Cruze SW is sleekly styled and quite eye-catching, and exudes a premium look. Standard kit levels are good too – the entry level LS has air-conditioning, stability control, six airbags, remote locking and electric front windows among its features. LT trim adds electric rear windows, parking sensors, cruise control and alloy wheels, while the flagship LTZ Nav includes sat-nav, Bluetooth, climate control and a rear view camera.
My recent test model was an LT, one up from entry level and priced at £16,870. Powered by a 1.6 litre petrol engine, it has a modest 0-60mph time of 12.6 seconds, top speed is 118 mph and the fuel economy figure is 44.1 mpg combined, decent for a large estate car especially in petrol form.
Underway, the Cruze displays assured road-holding though I found the steering feedback rather limited. Ride quality is fine though on rough surfaces it can be jumpy.
The Cruze is quiet, with minimal noise intrusion, despite having to work the engine a bit harder as the petrol model has only a 5-speed gearbox. The diesel version has a 6-speed unit.
Occupant space is good for four adults, and though a fifth will fit in, the central tunnel is awkward and uncomfortable for anyone on a longer trip. On the plus side, the boot is large ( 500 litres, boosted to 1,478 litres with the rear seats folded) making it a very practical load mover.
Overall, the Cruze impresses, particularly the medium-spec models, which offer best value. Attractively styled and quite distinctive, the only obvious downside is that Chevrolet residual values are not as strong as those of some of its better-known rivals.
FOR: Visual charisma, excellent load-space, well-equipped.
AGAINST: Choppy ride quality on rougher surfaces.