Chevrolet Cruze RS Hatchback: Desperately in Need of an SS Badge
Let’s dig a bit deeper
So, that’s the powertrain, and interior covered, let’s talk about what’s going on with the Cruze beneath the skin. The Cruze rides on General Motors Delta II (2XXX) platform, which was designed by GM subsidiary Opel, in Germany. Those European design allusions weren’t just empty commentary.
As such, the Cruze RS hatchback uses a McPherson strut-type independent front suspension, and a Watts Link semi-independent rear suspension. What does mean for the average buyer? In short, not much. For perspective, Focus and Civic utilize struts up front (like the Chevy) and a fully-indepedent multi-link rear suspension. The standard Elantra also uses struts up front, but solders on with a torsion beam rear axle, unless you spring for the excellent Elantra Sport, which gains a multi-link rear end, as well.
The suspension nerds out there, of which I myself as one of, will bemoan the lack of a truly-independent rear suspension. But in day-to-day driving, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the Cruze’s suspension design and some of its competitors. The Chevy offers a superior ride quality to the Focus, and comparable ride quality to the Elantra. The Civic seems to ride a hair better through the world of broken pavement that is Los Angeles. Yours truly thinks the main difference is in the shock tuning.
Let’s wrap it up
The Chevrolet Cruze RS hatchback offers a sampling of what a premium European hatchback is like, however, the price reflects it. As tested, this Cruze came with an asking price of $28,590, plus the $875 destination charge. So, for $29,465 the Cruze RS hatchback offers a lot of content, but then again, for a nearly 30 grand compact car, so you would expect it to.
Chevy has directed the Cruze hatchback in a decidly upmarket direction, at the expense of fun. The car is competent, almost to a fault, it’s simply too buttoned up for how zany and wild the engine always wants to be. It’s a very, very good car, but after driving it, I can’t help but feel that an SS variant is the Cruze hatchback we are really missing.
I say this, because the Hyundai Elantra Sport, Honda Civic Si, and the Focus/Fiesta ST exist. The Hyundai offers similar levels of features, options and interior goodies, with more performance. The Honda Civic Si offers the same MPG stats, with a good blend of sporty features and practicality, oh, and more performance, for less. And the fast Fords exist simply to be rowdy fun in the segment. When viewed against these cars, the Chevy goes from handsome to subtle, and it showcases a less dynamic personality.
The Cruze hatchback is the best compact car Chevrolet has ever made, they just need to push it further. We finally have the cool styling, and superb build quality, it just needs more firepower. They did it with the amazing Cobalt SS turbo, and they can do it here, too.