THE badges have in many cases become at least as well known as the brands they represent.
There’s the blue oval of Ford, four rings of Audi, big cat of Jaguar and three pointed star of Mercedes-Benz.
Now a symbol less well known to the British public is in the throes of becoming branded like a tattoo on the UK car market – the distinctive golden cross of Chevrolet.
The American manufacturer is actually the world’s fourth largest car maker, to the point that a new Chevy rolls off a production line every six seconds.
And in 2011, the company’s centenary year, a massive 4.77 million Chevrolet models were sold worldwide.
Now the big numbers are heading to the UK, where the new Cruze Station Wagon is the 10th new model to be launched in the last 18 months.
The venue for this attractively priced estate car’s presentation was Old Trafford, where earlier this summer Chevrolet announced a nine-year sponsorship deal with Manchester United believed to be costing the brand in the region of £375 million.
And as official auto supplier to both United and Liverpool, there are going to plenty of soccer stars cruising round in Corvettes and Camaros, though Chevrolet insist that the Captiva SUV family crossover model has had plenty of takers too.
The value of a company’s name being splashed across TV screens can’t be underestimated. In fact 643 million households worldwide watched the Premier League last season.
Another indication of Chevrolet’s progress here is that in 2009 it had a model available in just 30 per cent of the UK market. That figure is now 65 per cent and growing.
So to the Cruze Station Wagon. If you’re a customer interested in buying an estate car then your priorities are going to include carrying capacity and price – this estate delivers on both.
Since the original Cruze was launched three years ago it has become Chevy’s most successful model with more than 1.3 million cars sold worldwide – the arrival of the new Station Wagon aims to further broaden the appeal.
Even though it falls into the compact car category, the SW feels large and its load space is terrific, with ample space for three adults to travel in the rear.
And while the boot measures 1,024mm in length and allows for 500 litres of storage up to the window line, that capacity leaps to 1,478 litres with the rear seat backs folded flat – in other words you can stash plenty of swag.
There are also tie-down points for larger items, a hidden compartment under the back section of boot floor and extra storage areas in the doors, on the front seat backs and the split-level glovebox.
Accessories include cargo nets, a cargo organiser box with flexible partition walls, a roof box, as well as bicycle, ski and surf board carrier systems, so most situations are covered.
Of the four engine options – 1.7 and 2.0-litre VCDi diesels plus 1.6 and 1.8-litre petrol – the new 1.7 oil-burner, equipped with an intercooled turbocharger and Start/Stop as standard, is a cracker.
It generates 130ps and can reach 60mph in 10.0 seconds, at the same time returning an average fuel consumption of 62.7mpg and CO2 figure of 119g/km, making it the most frugal unit ever offered in a Cruze.
On the 150-mile test route through the Peak District this was the unit that really impressed, in stark contrast to the 1.6-litre five-speed petrol model which laboured to cope with all but the gentlest of inclines and only returned an average 28.4mpg, way down on its official mark of 44.1.
Backed by a five-year warranty at retail, the SW range comprises three trim grades – LS, LT and LTZ – with prices starting at £15,375 for the 1.6 LS model.