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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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
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.