According to Alan Batey, Global Chevrolet Brand Chief and President, GM North America, the vehicle that consumers most readily connect with the Chevrolet brand in the global market is the Cruze. It is, in fact, Chevrolet’s most popular car worldwide, and for 2016 the Cruze receives a complete makeover with the objective of leading the segment in all the markets it occupies, said the contagiously enthusiastic Mr. Batey at the beginning of Chevrolet’s “Powered by Innovation” event in Detroit.

On the event schedule, the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze was unveiled “Live at the Fillmore,” with warm-up band Delilah DeWylde and the Lost Boys recalling Chevrolet’s golden years with ’50s songs and a smooth rock ‘n roll vibe.

“Wow, who would have thought…?” reflected a somewhat bemused Ms. DeWylde. “Here I am singing for a car.”

But soon enough GM CEO Mary Barra took over, extolling the virtues of the new Chevrolet and GM’s future in general.

Expected in dealer showrooms in the first quarter of 2016, the new Cruze completes the unified design makeover of Chevrolet’s sedans – Impala, Malibu, Volt, Cruze – which now feature more aerodynamic, flowing lines and a characteristic two-part grille representing the “new face” of Chevrolet.” Four trim levels will be available for the new Cruze: L, LS, LT and Premier. The sporty RS package continues with unique grilles, front and rear fascias, fog lamps, front splitter, rocker panels, rear spoiler and 18-inch wheels on the Premier model.

In addition to the new exterior design, Cruze will be available with two new engines. An all-aluminum 1.4-litre direct-injected inline-four making 153 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque will be the standard engine, and a 1.6L turbodiesel will be available for 2017 whose output is not yet released. We were told, however, that the new “Flüsterdiesel” already available in Europe will be “whisper quiet.”

Contributing to improved driving dynamics and fuel economy, the 2016 Cruze will be up to 113 kg lighter than the equivalent outgoing model (even though it gains 68 mm in length), and its chassis 27 percent stiffer. Cruze adds start/stop technology to further improve fuel economy. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h will require just over eight seconds and fuel consumption is estimated at 5.9 L/100 km when driving on the highway.

Inside, the aero-design theme continues with panels that flow from front to rear, more leg and kneeroom for rear passengers and a dual-cockpit arrangement up front. Leather interiors are available, as are heated rear seats, depending on the trim level. Soft-touch surfaces and finely etched trim elements are evident throughout. The overall look and feel of the Cruze interior is that materials are of a higher quality; everything seems to have gone “up market.”

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