Face Off: Chevrolet Cruze Vs Toyota Corolla Altis

Toyota is a world leader in the global automobile industry but it hasn’t quite been able to reproduce similar levels of dominance in the Indian market of late. Domestic manufacturers have upped their game, thanks to international brands showing greater levels of immersion in the country’s potential for consuming motoring machines. Additionally, erstwhile outside players such as Hyundai and Honda have taken the game by the scruff of its neck and pulled off amazing sales figures. The result is that Toyota has been forced to pull up its socks and come up with a product that would hold prospective buyers’ fleeting attention.

Toyota Corolla Altis compare review

GM’s Chevrolet has been having a rather uneventful run in the Indian market in the recent past. Fading consumer interest and intense competition has meant plummeting sales and last-ditch revival efforts. Earlier this year it was the Beat that the company attempted to resuscitate, and the facelift helped its cause to a certain extent. With the hatchback segment out of the way, Chevrolet turned its focus to the sedans. The Cruze has always been considered a good performer but popular design tastes change every so often and specs are rendered obsolete in the blink of an eye.

Chevrolet Cruze compare review

The Chevrolet Cruze face-lift and new Toyota Corolla were launched more than half a year apart but they both played very similar roles for their respective makers. The D segment is far from being among the most popular in the country and within it there were names such as the Volkswagen Jetta and Skoda Octavia to contend with. Which one comes away looking better in the design and performance departments? Let’s take a look.

Overall:

Toyota Corolla

The 2014 Toyota Corolla is not just the next generation in a long line of cars. It is something of a mutation, an outlier, thanks to the changing paradigms at the company. The eleventh generation was born unlike any of its predecessors. Toyota loyalists may have had to look twice to ensure the car they were looking at was really the Corolla, thanks to the edgier visual profile of the car. Bigger brothers Camry and Avalon acted as prototypes for a lot of the details that can be observed on the car’s exterior. The muscular front end of the car gives way to swelte lines on the sides leading up to an appealing back end. Being lower, wider, and longer than its predecessor, the proportions of the Corolla seem to have been modified in just the right way.

Chevrolet Cruze

Chevrolet’s latest update to the Cruze was a lot more reactive than reflective. Skoda had upped the ante by launching the new Octavia in India. The season was such that most manufacturers were going in with all their chips, in the hope of cashing in on the festive spirit. The Chevrolet Cruze face-lift seems looks forced and heavy-handed. In other markets the face-lift coincided with the launch of a new engine configuration for the Cruze. In India, however, Chevrolet chose to make the update in installments. In 2012 a new 2.0 liter engine was plonked in the car and now a few changes have been made to its design. A new bumper, spoilers, and additional lamps don’t quite do enough to make the car seem like an enticing prospect. On the design front, the Corolla is the runaway winner.

Performance:

Toyota Corolla

Toyota has chosen to retain the 1.4 and 1.8-liter capacity diesel mills that did duties on the previous iteration of the car. The output of these engines has been increased marginally. More excitingly, there’s the new 2.0 liter engine, which is effortless in both city and highway conditions. McPherson struts positioned in the front suspensions make for a more rigid drive experience. A torsion-beam organization supports the rear end of the car. Toyota has given up the old hydraulic system for a whole new electric power-steering. The EPS is weighted well but does tend come short when drivers search for that extra bit of oomph.

Chevrolet Cruze

The term “all new” was bandied about quite a bit during the promotion of the Cruze but that’s far from the truth, especially under the hood. The Cruze face-lift houses a 2 liter diesel mill capable of churning out 166PS peak power and torque of 380Nm. This makes the Cruze one of the most powerful cars in the segment. A 6-speed gearbox relays power to the wheels. GM vastly improved the driving dynamics of the car, but that was back in 2012, too long back to even be considered a factor now. The car has an ARAI mileage of 17.3km/l.

The Chevrolet Cruze and Toyota Corolla are on a more level footing when compared with performance characteristics in mind. The Cruze tends to be underrated in the Indian market, though few of its competitors can match its performance. However, once again, the Corolla takes the cake, mainly because the updates seem more recent and relevant

Verdict:

Though the Corolla and Cruze will draw comparison due to the fact that they operate in the same segment, it’s almost unfair to the Cruze to do that. The Chevrolet car enters the game looking unprepared. Toyota’s Corolla, on the other hand, is sure footed, and lays one punch after another with conviction. While it will take some time to see how the Corolla stacks up against some of the top performers in its segment, Toyota Corolla is the clear winner against the Chevrolet Cruze face-lift.

Face Off: Fiat Linea vs Skoda Rapid

Italian car maker Fiat has been struggling in the Indian market for years now. Fiat’s first outing in the Indian car market proved disastrous for the company. While the company’s range was impressive, expensive spare parts, poor after sales services and lack of service centers quickly proved to be the Italian manufacturer’s downfall. This time around, Fiat is back with a refreshed range and an all new dealer and service center network to keep fans of the brand happy as well as to attract new ones. To keep pace in the heavily contended C2 segment, Fiat has recently updated its Fiat Linea sedan. We take a look at what the new car has to offer against the impressive albeit often overlooked Skoda alternative, the Skoda Rapid.

Design:

Fiat Linea:

The 2014 Linea doesn’t see too many changes save for a few chrome embellishments and slightly reworked bumpers. While the changes do not drastically change the sedan’s looks, they do add a bit of upmarket feel to the car. Sadly however, the Linea’s design is quite dated and fails to stand out from the crowd of zesty Fords, futuristic Hyundai’s and timeless Skoda’s. However, a Fiat’s true selling point isn’t its exterior, it’s driving dynamic. Sadly, this does not excuse the Italian manufacturer’s lack of inspiring design for what is currently one of three models on sale here in India.

2014 fiat linea review
The All New Fiat Linea

Skoda Rapid:

Skoda, as always, has done an impressive job on the Rapid. Although the car may not turn heads wherever it goes, the understated elegance coupled with the classic Skoda touch is a match made in heaven. While the car may be more than three years old now, the Skoda Rapid is still as fresh as it was when it first made its debut here in India.

skoda rapid compare
The Skoda Rapid

Round 1 Winner: Skoda Rapid !

Interiors:

Fiat Linea:

The interiors of the new Linea are quite impressive. A combination of beige and black gives the cabin a premium and sporty feel lacking in most cars in its range. The updated dashboard features a black center console with a secondary unit for climate control. The impressive ambient lighting bathes the Linea’s cabin in a beautiful amber. Steering mounted controls give the driver access to the infotainment system. Rear legroom is sufficient, headroom on the other hand is quite less and tall passengers may feel a bit cramped at the back.

 Dashboard of the 2014 Fiat Linea
The Dashboard of the 2014 Fiat Linea

Skoda Rapid:

The Skoda Rapid is almost four years old now and its age is now beginning to show, predominantly with its interiors. The dull grey and beige interiors are quite lackluster. Although the Rapid comes with automatic climate control and a fully loaded infotainment system, the lack of steering mounted controls and dated green backlight of the instrument cluster and the infotainment system gives the Rapid a rather unattractive cabin.

interiors of skoda rapid
Interiors of the Skoda Rapid

Round 2 Winner: Fiat Linea !

Engine:

Fiat Linea:

The Linea is offered with two engine options. The first being the 1.4 L T-Jet petrol engine that produces 112 HP at 5000 RPM and 207 Nm of torque at 2200 RPM. Fiat’s diesel Linea is powered by a 1.3 L MultiJet unit that produces 92 HP @ 4000 RPM and 209 Nm of torque @ 2000 RPM.

Unlike the Skoda Rapid, the Linea is offered only with a 5 speed manual gearbox.

Skoda Rapid:

Skoda offers both petrol and diesel options for the Rapid. The petrol powered variant houses a 1.6 L unit that produces 104 HP and 153 Nm of torque. It comes equipped with both a 5 speed manual as well as a 6 speed automatic gearbox that gives a respectable but not class leading mileage of 15 km/l and 14.3 km/l respectively.

The 1.6 L turbocharged diesel mill powering the Rapid produces 104 HP and 250 Nm of torque. While the power figures may be approximately the same as its petrol counterpart, the diesel offers peak power and torque figures at a lower point of the rev range allowing for better movement is slow traffic conditions. The diesel too is offered with both a 5 speed manual as well as a 5 speed automatic.

Although Skoda Rapid may offer better gearbox options, Fiat’s mechanical engineering prowess is unrivaled. The company’s T-Jet and MultiJet systems are one of the best in the business.

Round 3 Winner: Fiat Linea !

The Drive:

Fiat Linea:

Fiat is renowned for their extreme focus on driving dynamics. While other manufacturers are moving with the times by adopting technologies such as electric steering systems, Fiat has stuck with the classics to create an unadulterated driving experience. A risky move, but a move that works. The Linea is an absolute joy to drive and provides a familiar driving experience.

Skoda Rapid:

The Skoda Rapid exhibits extremely similar driving dynamics as well. Despite this however, the Fiat Linea feels like the more well balanced of the two. The Czech car maker stated that the Skoda Rapid will act as the brand’s experimental platform here in India. This means that we may be seeing an array of new variants with all new equipment inside the cabin as well as under the hood.

Round 4 Winner: Draw !

Verdict:

The Fiat Linea is an extremely well balanced car in almost every aspect. Save for the nearly ordinary exteriors, the Linea offers superb engines and beautiful interiors. With an improved service center network and updated lineup, the Italian manufacturer may soon make a sizable dent in the Indian car market.

With the huge success of the Octavia and Superb, Skoda has honestly ignored a car that could have easily become No. 1 in its segment. This time hopefully, we might see a new and improved Rapid to take on cars such as the Linea, Verna and City. With Skoda’s design finesse coupled with VolksWagen’s engineering capability, the Rapid has the potential to become an icon of the masses, similar to what the original Octavia did for the company. Until then however, Fiat Linea is the clear winner.

 

Face Off: Nissan Micra vs Renault Pulse

The Renault Nissan Alliance has given birth to a vast array of cars for the Indian market. With an impressive (and almost identical) lineup of cars from both sides, one can be forgiven for his indecisiveness in choosing between the two brands. We take a look at the Nissan Micra and Renault Pulse to see which car is the better bet.

Design:

Nissan Micra:

The Micra was never the most appealing hatch in the Indian market. Its cute-sy design failed to impress and with cars such as the Fluidic i20 and Volkswagen Polo entering the market, the Micra was in need for a major revamp. That revamp came in the form of a makeover last year to improve its image among buyers.

blue 2013 nissan micra
The Nissan Micra Facelift Improves The Aesthetics of the Rather Uninspiring Predecessor

Although the latest facelift does improve the Micra’s looks, the car’s proportions still look out of place. However, with its aggressively styled headlamps and revamped rear end, the new Micra is a drastic improvement over the previous gen model. The Nissan hatch also comes with a new chrome grille and LED taillights that build on the car’s premium appeal.

white 2013 nissan micra rear
Rear View of the Nissan Micra

Renault Pulse:

Unlike Nissan, the French car maker has retained the original design of the hatchback. However, with subtle structural changes such as the re-sizing of the grille, altered contours and its large Renault badge, Renault has endowed the Pulse with a more masculine character.

Renault pulse review
The Pulse’s Altered Dimensions Add a Bit of Masculinity To The Hatch’s Appearance

However, with its dated design, the Pulse loses out to the more recent Micra facelift.

red renault pulse
The Pulse Is Quite Dated In Terms of Design and Equipment

Round 1 Winner: Nissan Micra !

Interior:

Nissan Micra:

Much of the new Micra’s facelift manifests itself with its interiors. The piano black center console and Nissan’s dual display system are the two most eye catching design elements of the Micra’s cabin. While the larger display is used by the infotainment system, the secondary screen displays the AC settings.

nissan micra interior
The Interiors of the Nissan Micra Facelift Look Far Better and More Upmarket Than the Pulse’s

The cabin is far more upmarket with updated plastics and aluminum finishes all over.

Renault Pulse:

The Pulse’s interiors are relatively rather dull and drab. The company’s choice of colors of beige and grey all over makes the Pulse’s cabin look quite cheap. The choice of plastics and fabric are not up to the mark as well.

nissan micra interior
The Interiors of the Nissan Micra Facelift Look Far Better and More Upmarket Than the Pulse’s

Since the Pulse and Micra share the same platform, the interiors of the Renault hatch are almost identical to the first generation Micra.

Round 2 Winner: Nissan Micra !

Engine:

Nissan Micra:

The Micra is powered by both petrol and diesel engines. The petrol variant make use of a 1.2 L three cylinder engine that produces 76 HP at 6000 RPM and 104 Nm of torque @ 4000 RPM. Although the 1.2 L petrol unit produces a respectable amount of power, the engine could do with some remapping for better accessibility of peak power and torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a 5 speed manual with a CVT gearbox also available.

The diesel engine is a 1.5 DCi unit that produces 65 HP @ 4000 RPM and a peak torque of 160 Nm @ 2000 RPM. The diesel Micra is equipped with a 5 speed manual only.

Renault Pulse:

The Pulse uses the very same engines except for slight changes to the performance numbers. The 1.2 L petrol mill produces 74 HP @6000 RPM and 104 Nm of torque at 4000 RPM. The 1.5 L diesel mill outputs a peak power figure of 63 HP at 4000 RPM and 160 Nm of torque at 2000 RPM.

Although the Pulse produces slightly lesser numbers, the difference in power is almost negligible with no tangible differences in top speeds or acceleration rates.

Round 3 Winner: Draw !

The Drive:

Nissan Micra:

One major issue with any Nissan developed car is the stiff clutch. Although the clutch pedal and clutch movement feels sturdy, the Japanese automaker could have added a lighter movement to allow ease of use under heavy traffic conditions. The Nissan Micra’s compact structure means that the 1.2 L petrol is relatively quite powerful and the Micra that works well under heavy stress.

The inclusion of ABS across a majority of the models and the choice of two or four air bags means the Micra is also one of the safest hatches as well.

Renault Pulse:

The Pulse, although identical to the Micra improves on the Nissan hatchback’s driving dynamics. The clutch pedal had just enough pressure to not be a nuisance in city traffic but offered enough feel for accurate clutch movements. The engine was extremely responsive and just as much fun as the Micra. However, the brakes left much to be desired. The Spongy and vague feel greatly depreciates driver confidence.

Unlike the Micra, the Pulse slightly skimps on safety features such as ABS and airbags along a number of variants. Hopefully the French automaker will understand that safety is the need of the hour and introduce a better set of options in the Pulse’s next iteration.

Round 4 Winner: Nissan Micra !

Verdict:

Although both cars are almost identical, the results speak for themselves. The Nissan Micra is a newer offering that adds better safety options across a larger number of variants and its updated interiors are far more appealing than the Pulse’s dated beige cabin. The inclusion of an automatic gearbox also means that the Nissan Micra is an option to an increasingly automatic inclined audience.

Image Source: Internet