CHEVROLET launched the Cruze as a saloon in the early part of last year and a hatchback arrived at the end of 2011 to strengthen the model range.
Now purchasers can select from a choice of 14 variants in three trim levels with a choice of two petrol and one turbo-diesel power plants with prices ranging from just under £14,000 to £19,995.
I have just been driving one of the most popular models in the range the VCDi hatchback in mid trim costing £17,195.
The hatchback offers more versatility than its sibling saloon and there is bags of space for five adults to travel in comfort.
The hatch retains the brash styling of the saloon with its large two-part grille which features a large bow-tie Chevrolet badge.
The addition of the hatch seems to have made the Cruze look more sporty and it does not disappoint on the road.
The 160bhp, two-litre diesel offers plenty grunt and the torque is delivered exactly where you would want it. The sprint to 62mph takes just 8.5 seconds and if you can find anywhere legal to do it, the Cruze will reach 127mph.
You have to make full use of the six-speed gearbox to extract maximum enjoyment from the Cruze but you will be rewarded if you utilise it properly.
The car handles well on the open road and cruises quietly at motorway speeds. The brakes perform well and without fuss and the steering is light and precise and well suited to urban use.
It is possible to get almost 37mpg in town work and just over 50mpg on the combined cycle.
The cabin is spacious and the instruments are clear and easy to read with blue lighting on the dials. I was not so fond of the fabric covering on part of the dash and some of the plastics are still a little too harsh.
It was easy to find a good driving position and the seats are very comfortable and provide plenty support.
Luggage space is excellent with 413 litres available rising to 883 litres if the 60/40 folding rear seats are collapsed. There are also numerous cubbies to stash smaller items and cup holders front and rear.
The Cruze boasts the top five-star NCAP safety rating thanks to its front, side and curtain aibags, traction contrrol, ESP and advanced braking systems.
Equipment levels throughout the range are also very generous and you can add an automatic transmisssion for an extra £1,000 and an electric roof for £510.
A smaller diesel engine is to be offered later this year and an estate version is also on the way.
Attractive pricing and rugged masculine looks make the Cruze a good proposition and when you add on the 100,000 mile five-year warranty it becomes a good alternative to more mainstream competitors.
Victories in both the World and British Touring Car championships have helped raise the Cruze’s profile and the range is well worth a look.
Chevrolet Cruze VCDi Hatchback
Mechanical: 160bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 127mph
0-62mph: 8.5 seconds
Combined mpg: 50.4
Insurance group: 22
CO2 emissions: 147g/km
BIK rating: 23%
Warranty: 5yrs/ 100,000 miles