A funny thing has happened throughout the stampede from cars and to crossovers: some compact cars are growing their sales back. And curiously, they are largely those who included new hatchback versions for 2017: , and . Thus far, the recently hatched competition has not hurt the sales of the seminal hatch that has been around for nearly 40 years — sales are also up this year. But if Volkswagen be worried? We place a Cruze hatchback up against a Golf to findnbsp;outside.
Chevrolet Cruze LTnbsp;Hatch
- Cost: $20,595 foundation, $23,385 asnbsp;analyzed
- Engine: 1.4-litre turbochargednbsp;four-cylinder
- Transmission/drive: six-speed manual, front-wheelnbsp;driveway
- Fuel economy (city/hwy litres/100 km):nbsp;8.3/6.4.
- Alternatives: Ford Focus HB, Honda Civic HB, Hyundai Elantra GT, Kia Forte5, Mazda3 Sport, MINI Clubman, Subaru Impreza 5-door, Toyota Corolla iM, VWnbsp;Golf
The Cruze’s styling is clearly more expressive than the Golf’s (although we wonder whether it is going to age too) but the wedgy nose and semi-fastback back profile stretch the entire body a sizable 20 centimetres more than the Golf’s. The test car’s $695 RS bundle added a rear spoiler, fog lamps and a sport-body kit while the 16-inch wheels arenbsp;regular.
Official cubic-footage numbers credit the Cruze with virtually the exact same passenger volume as the Golf, but its rear seat feels much roomier, with expansive rear legroom over offsetting slightly tighter headroom. Optional eight-way power-seat modification is a bonus for the driver, although the seat padding is possibly too soft, and you still sit quite low in a cab-forward cockpit; visibility can be jeopardized by the A-posts and door mirror. The dash is quite heavily sculpted, but not at the cost of user-friendliness: The HVAC, basic audio controls and touch screen are conveniently clustered together on the centrenbsp;pile.
It might have a turbo, but the 1.4-litre Cruze still shows there ai not no substitute for cubic displacement. Paired with a six-speed manual tranny (which is not even as long-legged in sixth as the Golf is in fifth, even though it’s still a calm cruiser), the Cruze manual takes a tardy 8.3 minutes from 0-97 km/h, according to Car and Driver. AJAC quantified 0-100 km/h in 9.3 seconds on a Cruze automatic, which can be relatively closer to the Golf automatic and indicates that the autobox is a much better fit for your Cruze engine than is the manual. It is not that the DIY shifter is unpleasant — it is light and smooth — but the automobile might better conceal the weak low-end torque and sundry sags and surges in the engine’s power delivery. Too bad, since the Cruze handles fairly well, though its light-and-lively steering (which we loved) may even be overly responsive for somenbsp;tastes.
A definite win here for the Chev, using a conventional seven-inch screen (larger than the Golf’s optional one), Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, OnStar, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and SiriusXM — all standard. A bundle on the test car upsized the display to eight inches and added a long list of luxury and convenience features, but no alert-and-avert security options; a small number of those can be found in the genuine Northnbsp;package.
The Cruze’s grip lacks the Golf’s bi-level flexibility or its convenient open bins at the corners, but the most important area is a useful square-sided shape that could accommodate 24.7 cubic feet of material. The seat backs fold commendably level, with a minimum measure up from the main deck, to expand volume to 47.2 cubicnbsp;ft.
The Cruze provides more features for less money than the Golf, and a roomy back seat, all in a fashionable wrapping. It rides and handles well, too, but its driver appeal is hobbled by its own anemic engine functionality. Then again, it is also now available with a diesel, which is no more true of the Golf — the first diesel compact hatchback.
VW Golf TSi Trendline
- Cost: $21,595 foundation, $22,295 asnbsp;analyzed
- Engine: 1.8-litre turbochargednbsp;four-cylinder
- Transmission/drive: five-speed manual, front-wheelnbsp;driveway
- Fuel economy (city/hwy litres/100 km):nbsp;9.3/6.6.
- Alternatives: Chevrolet Cruze HB, Ford Focus HB, Honda Civic HB, Hyundai Elantra GT, Kia Forte5, Mazda3 Sport, MINI Clubman, Subaru Impreza 5-door, Toyota Corollanbsp;iM
The Golf could just be a Golf. Through seven generations it’s stayed true to the identical fundamental proportions. And it is a testament to the rightness of this shape that even though its rear quarters are much boxier than those of the Cruze, it still keeps a stylishness that won’t age with time. Wheels on the base trim tested are modestnbsp;15-inchers.
The Golf is one of the section’s tiniest hatchbacks but its “sensible shoes” shape makes great use of its measurements, so rear-seat room isn’t far off course norms. Massive drivers should not have any difficulties with space in the wheel, and all should love the clear sight lines and tidy, function-before-form dashboard design. Smaller drivers may get the wall-like dashboard design somewhat on your face, however, and the arc of this pump-action seat-height adjustment may induce a trade-off between seat height and thigh support. A five-inch display is standard but a 6.5-incher includes the Connectivitynbsp;Bundle.
Though just a five-speed, the Golf’s gearbox ratios provide it incredibly long legs at top, providing a sublimely quiet 120-km/h cruise at just 2,300 rpm. The tall gearing can render the motor flat-footed in case you let it lug too low with no downshift, but if you keep the mild-turbo 1.8 in its 1,500 to 4,500 rpm torque plateau, the Golf punches well above its weight: Car and Driver reported 0-97 km/h at a lively 6.6 seconds for the manual; an automatic analyzed by AJAC did 0-100 km/h in 8.4 minutes. The manual shifter is not Honda slick but it offers a feeling of driver engagement to decide on the tight steering and (despite skinny fuel-economy tires) connected, buttoned-downnbsp;tackling.
Backup camera aside, not much is standard (well, you do get a CD player!) . A $700 Connectivity Package adds (inter alia) a 6.5-inch touch-screen sound with smartphone integration (Android Vehicle, Apple CarPlay, MirrorLink), voice control and SiriusXM. On the driver-aids side, hill-start help is standard but you want to graduate to higher trim levels for things like adaptive cruise, autonomous emergency braking and lane-keep help — that are still extranbsp;price.
A useful bi-level back floor sits flush with the folded chair backs in its upper position — with concealed space under — and in its lower setting enables a deeper, roomier trunk. “Official” cargo volumes can be a challenge to compare, because of different measuring methods, but it appears the Golf has a little less volume (22.8 cubic feet) than the Cruze with the rear seats up, and much more (52.7 cubic feet) with themnbsp;folded.
According to its specs and features list, the Golf may look like less car for more money — on paper. On pavement, however, it provides an all round premium driving experience to match its premium fit and finish. But while the 1.8-litre TSI is a good engine, we do miss the TDI dieselnbsp;…
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