Chevrolet Cruze driven

* Future face of Chevy * Range starts at £11,545 * Smart and cheap...

Chevrolet Cruze driven

Say hello to the most important new car Chevrolet has ever released in the UK. Not because millions will be sold the British love affair with the humble hatchback means saloons of the same size aren't exactly money-spinners.

No, the Cruze is important because it's the first of a new generation of Chevys, so it'll show us the shape of things to come for the brand.

That means you'll be seeing more of features such as the two-tier grille, which gives the Cruze its undeniable presence.

The interior looks good, too, with swish design, smart plastics and solid assembly. Okay, it wont worry a Volkswagen for overall quality, but it's a massive step forward for Chevrolet.

Like a Chevy should be, it's cheap, too. The range starts at just 11,545, and model for model it undercuts most rivals by thousands rather than hundreds. On all but the entry-level car, you get bundles of kit, too.

Granted, it's not the most polished thing in the world to drive. The ride has a firm, uncultured edge that'll give you a jolt over potholes, and the front end runs wide too easily in bends. The steering also feels remote and twitchy.

Most Cruze buyers won't care too much about these shortcomings, but they might object to the gutless petrol engines.

The 111bhp 1.6 is desperately short of go unless the throttle pedal is slammed into the bulkhead, and the 139bhp 1.8 isn't much better.

The 148bhp 2.0 turbodiesel is far gutsier, but it makes the Cruze pricier than it should be. Therell be a cheaper 123bhp diesel available, but we haven't driven it yet.

Pity, because if it's any good, it could make the Cruze a whole lot more appealing.

Chevrolet CruzePrice: £11,545 to £15,195
On sale: July
You'll like Smart cabin; price; generous equipment
You won't Lacklustre driving manners; gutless petrol engines