Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

Chevrolet is offering buyers a choice of either 1.6-litre or 1.8-litre petrol engines. The 1.6-litre produces 113bhp and sprints from 0-62mph in 12.5 seconds. It's lively enough, although feels like it's working hard on the motorway. The 141bhp 1.8-litre is a little more relaxed and will reach 62mph from rest in 10 seconds. It's more relaxed than the 1.6-litre at higher speed and offers better performance with similar fuel consumption to the less powerful version.

The petrol models also come with the option of a six-speed automatic gearbox. The 2.0 VCDi diesel version produces 150bhp and plenty of pulling power. It's relaxed high-speed performance (less than 2,000rpm showing at 70mph in fifth gear) means you sometimes have to shift through the gears more than expected when tackling hills, which is unusual for a strong diesel engine.

In late 2009 an automatic gearbox was added as an option for the diesel, although average fuel economy drops from 51mpg to 42mpg as a result.

The Cruze provides good levels of on-road comfort while being surprisingly responsive on twisty roads. The steering is too light and uninvolving, but the Cruze corners confidently, with excellent body control and plenty of grip. It's easily as comfortable on challenging roads as rivals of similar size, such as the Skoda Octavia or Volkswagen Jetta.