Chevy Cruze: America’s First Diesel Compact Has Landed

Hitting showrooms now is Chevrolet’s (NYSE:GM) latest compact varient, the Cruze diesel. While the company has been busy juggling the spotlight on its recently price electric Spark, the new Cruze has slipped somewhat under the radar and landed in showrooms.

Not only will the diesel varient of GM’s best-selling small sedan be the most fuelefficient of the line, but it will also reportedly be the quickest. Zero to 60 is taken care of in about 8.6 seconds, while the top spec gasoline version — the Cruze Eco — takes 10 seconds.

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More significantly, the Cruze diesel is the first American challenger in the diesel small car segment to take on Volkswagen, which has long enjoyed a monopoly on the American diesel market. However, as VW’s diesel models such as the Golf, Jetta, and Passat TDI lines have gained popularity, domestic companies have realized the potential market for the vehicles, which offer superior mileage, without a significant tradeoff in performance.

At $25,695, the Cruze diesel will come in about $630 less than the $26,325 that the VW Jetta goes for, with an automatic transmission, the Cruze’s only transmission option. The Jetta, when equipped with the manual, will be cheaper than the Chevy.

The car has been awarded a 46 mile per gallon average by the EPA, topping the 42 from the VW models (although in USA Today’s test run, that figure came to 41 — “eroded by a heavy right foot.”).

Pictured: Cruze Eco

“From a packaging standpoint what we offer in our vehicles, we think is a much more superior product,” Chevrolet Vice President of Marketing Chris Perry said. “As mentioned earlier, people getting into this marketplace are mostly concerned about performance and fuel economy. If you look at our numbers there, the Chevrolet clean turbo diesel offers better horsepower, better torque, more miles on tank of fuel, over 700 miles on tank of fuel. And the best news is we have achieved 46 miles per gallon highway.”

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The car will return about 151 horsepower, with peak torque of 264 foot-pounds from the 2.0 litre unit under the hood. Finding fuel shouldn’t be an issue either, as about 52 percent of gas stations in the U.S. carry diesel. While diesels account for about 3 percent of U.S. vehicle sales today, analysts like firm LMC Automotive have predicted diesels will rise to 7.5 percent of U.S. sales in five years. This can be attributed to rising costs of gas and people searching for more fuel efficient cars, as well as manufacturers desperately racing to raise the average MPG figures for their fleets to meet the stringent new standards kicking in in 2020.

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