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Chevrolet's Cruze missile

By Roger St. Pierre

Head on, there’s a very strong familial resemblance between the Vauxhall Insignia and the new Chevrolet Cruze.

That’s not surprising, considering both brands are part of the General Motors portfolio.

What might make potential buyers of the ostensibly American Chevy sit up and take notice is that the styling has strong European cues and so does the handling and road-holding. Think of this as a serious competitor for the Ford Mondeo and its ilk rather than a stars and stripes style wallowing barge.

I tested the sleek looking five-door hatchback version and found you get a lot of car for your £17,770. The entry level model can be driven out of the showroom for a very modest £14,050.

Standard kit includes such goodies as follow you home headlights, cruise control, electronic stability control, rear parking sensors, anti-lock brakes, very efficient air-con, electronic boot opener and steering wheel mounted audio controls.

It’s a full-on five-seater, with lots of passenger space and a cavernous boot.

Power for my test car came from a quiet and smooth but gutsy 1.7-litre diesel mated to a slick six-speed gearbox with a stubby sports-style gearlever, whisking the car smoothly to a top-speed of 124-mph, passing the 6-mph (100-kph) mark on the way in 9.8-seconds.

Fuel economy is exemplary with a claimed 62.7-mpg for the combined cycle while 52-mpg around town and 72-mpg out on the open road are achievable.

Forget those ghastly US spec Chevys you might have driven on holiday in Florida, the new Cruze is a vehicle that’s fully at home on our roads.

I have two minor quibbles: there’s plenty of space to the left of your clutch but they haven’t provided a rest for your foot, and the leather gaiter on the gear lever gets in the way when you need to lift the gear-knob to engage reverse.

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