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GM Korea’s Cruze Diesel offers a powerful and noisy drive

Nov 06,2017
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The new Cruze Diesel during a test drive on Thursday from Mapo District, Seoul, to Yangju, Gyeonggi, a 45-kilometer course. The Cruze comes with a 1.6 CDTi diesel engine. [GM KOREA]
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The new Cruze Diesel by GM Korea officially lands in Korea today, optimized for the unique driving conditions in the country.

The new Cruze is topped with a 1.6-L CDTi diesel engine, the same engine that’s under the hood of GM’s multi-purpose vehicle Orlando, and third-generation six-speed automatic transmission capable of generating 134 horsepower and 32.6 kilogram-meters (235.8 pound-feet) of torque.

“We decided to adopt a six-speed automatic transmission for the new model instead of an eight- or nine-speed transmission given the road conditions in Korea where the average speed stands at around 40 kilometers per hour,” explained Hwang Joon-ha, the managing director of powertrain engineering at GM Korea, during a test drive session for the local press on Nov. 2. “A six-speed transmission will be able to respond quickly to road conditions where the vehicle has to stop and go constantly.”

The launch of the new Cruze comes amid rising speculation that the local branch of the American automaker may be pulling out of the Korean market soon.

“Don’t look at the rumors, but I would look at what we are investing in,” said Dale Sullivan, vice president of vehicle sales, service and marketing at GM Korea, when asked about the speculation. “Cruze diesel, we are investing, the [sales] promotion we are doing, we are investing. We are making investment to be better in our sales.”

“Saying that, we need to be a profitable company to sustain our business [in Korea],” Sullivan added.

The Korea JoongAng Daily had the opportunity to take the new Cruze out for a spin, driving it on a 45-kilometer (28-mile) course from Mapo District, western Seoul to Yangju, Gyeonggi.

As the highways were clear there was a plenty of scope to test the power of the engine.

While the engine responded well to pressure on the gas pedal, the strength of the vehicle’s powertrain was especially highlighted during the latter part of the test drive when passing through hilly and winding mountain roads.

Although the engine made a growling noise, it had no problem climbing a 45-degree hill. The smaller body, which is also 110 kilograms (242 pounds) lighter than its predecessor, according to the carmaker, made it easy to steer the car even around near-180-degree corners. The vehicle was still stable even during sharp corners.

Off the highway, the fuel efficiency shown on the dashboard was 17.5 kilometers per liter (41.2 miles per gallon). By the end of the drive, the combined fuel efficiency was 16.5 kilometers per liter, slightly better than the official figure - 16 kilometers per liter. The new Cruze was less than impressive when it came to noise cancellation, especially on the highway. The noise from the road surface was audible throughout the drive.

Some driver assistance systems - particularly the blind spot detection - were useful. The lane departure warning system, however, was less handy. The system was not initiated automatically and the driver had to push a button on the steering wheel in the middle of the drive. More importantly, it showed that the driver was deviating out of the lane by a blinking signal on the dashboard rather than an alarming sound. The vehicle was not equipped with a lane-keeping assistance system.

The seats were also stiff, making the near three-hour-long round-trip uncomfortable.

How competitive the car will be in the local market will come down to the price of the vehicle, which many experts expect to be much higher than its main market competitor -Hyundai Motor’s Avante. GM Korea explained that it will offer various discounts and promotions before the year’s end in order to provide a competitive “transaction price.”

GM Korea will reveal the price of the new Cruze today when sales of the vehicle officially start.


BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]