By on August 3, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Cruze

With its diesel-powered competition sidelined by scandal (and soon to be scrapped), General Motors sees a big window of opportunity for its new Chevrolet Cruze diesel.

Rather than being worried about consumer sentiment in the wake of Volkswagen’s emissions scandal, GM can’t wait to put the moves on the legions of spurned diesel diehards, Automotive News reports.

Dan Nicholson, GM’s vice president for global propulsion systems, said the timing is perfect for the next-generation Cruze diesel, powered by a 1.6-liter unit that engineers dubbed “whisper diesel.”

Speaking outside a seminar at Michigan’s Center for Automotive Research, Nicholson sounded tickled at the thought of capturing a market formerly dominated by a competitor.

“There are a lot of diesel intenders and diesel-loyal people who are looking for a brand and vehicles to go after,” Nicholson told Automotive News. “They tend to be more tech savvy than the average customer. And they won’t stop wishing for a diesel. And we’ll go after those customers.”

We already knew another Cruze diesel was on the way — GM announced it when it unveiled the second-generation compact last year. The 1.6-liter engine’s output and fuel economy are still a mystery, but the Cruze’s weight loss should help both figures stay competitive. There’s also the selling point that the new mill, once certified for sale in the U.S., won’t be recalled and crushed by regulators.

The previous-generation Cruze sported a very torquey 2.0-liter diesel for the 2014 and 2015 model years, but sales were hamstrung by strong competition and a high cost of entry.

Volkswagen owned the U.S. small car diesel market, backed by years of good reviews, huge sales, and a prolific ad campaign now proven to be a lie. When the scandal blows over (propelled by the wind generated by falling bundles of cash), don’t expect to see many oil burners in the VW lineup.

Nicholson feels that just because Volkswagen (and Audi, and Porsche) had their diesels yanked, doesn’t mean the market disappeared.

“I am very optimistic about the diesel market in the U.S.,” he said. “It has been abandoned by others and we are happy to step in and be the leader. Frankly that’s what we’d like to do.”

[Image: General Motors]

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68 Comments on “Chevrolet Cruze Diesel Returns in 2017, Plans to Woo Jilted Volkswagen Owners...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Hmmmmmm I wonder what the output will be for that engine as well. The 2.0 diesel put out torque and hp that put the small block V8s of my misspent youth to shame. That was the only reason that it was on my radar.

    I will say though that I have seen very few Cruze Diesels in the wild, although the first generation car was fairly popular around here.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      I just don’t see the point when if you just stuffed the 2.0T in there, you would have more than acceptable torque and HP at a much more reasonable cost of entry that would likely offset the fuel consumption numbers.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Yes but 2.0T doesn’t let you advertise 47 MPG HIGHWAY! Which is the number GM was truly interested in.

        In my area regular gas is hovering right at $2 per gallon, diesel is at about $2.05 to $2.10 per gallon, premium is at $2.30 to $2.50 per gallon. With the right power numbers I’d be happy with a diesel as a performance option.

        I also have the bonus that it is rare for me to fire up my vehicle and not drive at least 30 miles. That means I don’t have to worry about killing a diesel with lots of little short trips.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Probably because GM really *is* trying to serve a soon-to-be-neglected market here. Not that I, a TDI driver myself, am necessarily this way…but despite the fact that many gas-turbo engines will put up comparable performance to a diesel for the most part, a lot of the TDI drivers really just like these diesel cars and don’t want anything else.

        That’s a good opportunity for GM to come in with a competent compact diesel that actually *complies* with regulations. The company missed that opportunity with the short-lived first-gen Cruze diesel. But this one could be marketed as a car that does everything right…the new boyfriend/girlfriend who comes to your rescue after you’ve just ended an abusive relationship. According to Jalopnik, the little 1.6-liter puts out 275 lb-ft of torque, which is competitive, and I’m sure fuel-economy numbers will be, too.

        Of course, a lot of those diesel drivers are also snobby and attached to Volkswagen, or German cars in general, and will be turned off by the idea of an American-branded car with a compact diesel.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          Do we know if the new 1.6 diesel requires DEF? DEF is a non-starter for me. It may have just been fear mongering, but I have heard stories of people traversing the frozen north and their diesels going into limp mode on account of the DEF line from the trunk freezing up.

          Modern diesels have a lot going on. Makes me nervous.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            I’m sure it will. Pretty much all new diesels are going to require DEF these days (unless you listen to Volkswagen, who claimed theirs didn’t need DEF way back in MY2009…lol)

            There are lots of additives you can use if you live in winter climates to prevent your DEF from freezing at the normal 12 degrees Fahrenheit. But even the freezing seemed to be an isolated issue with certain GM Duramax trucks.

            That said, after your issues with the Verano, I wouldn’t buy another GM car for a while out of spite. Then again, you’re talking to the guy who’s considering another Bimmer even after that miserable X5 experience.

        • 0 avatar
          LIKE TTAC.COM ON FACEBOOK

          So Captain Saveaho drives a Cruze Diesel.
          That should make him easy to spot.
          (Ten years from now, it will be parked outside the Family Law Court, where he will be told how much he will have to pay each month to his ungrateful little princess for the next 18 years.)

      • 0 avatar
        philadlj

        I believe buying a Diesel version of a passenger car is more about status than saving money through lower fuel consumption.

        I grew up thinking of diesels as “cooler.” I even liked how they used to rattle more. It’s not rational.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      You could get near-diesel numbers and a stickshift if you wanted without the added initial and ongoing expense if you bought an Eco.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        This is true. The previous-gen Eco + 6MT Cruze is the darling of the hypermiling enthusiast. It’s a well-built and handsome car (although I think some sound insulation was removed from the Eco to save weight), and aside from range, it already puts up fuel economy comparable to one of the VW TDIs.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    1. They’ll have to keep the price down.

    2. I suspect VW TDI fans like the idea of joining a ‘family’ of diesel-powered cars, including Golf, Jetta, Passat, and Audi/Porsche products. This gave the TDI a sense of gravitas. Offering the lone Cruze in opportunistic fashion, with no long-term commitment from GM, may be a harder sell.

    3. GM needs to cough up MPG and torque numbers ASAP – that always helps.

    4. Advertising – If GM is serious about getting their foothold, then let people know about this offering.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Well, the only other members of GM’s diesel “family” are trucks, but maybe some would enjoy a diesel Canyon/Colorado in addition to their Cruze diesel.

      I suspect that if demand were there, this engine could be used in other FWD I-4 powered Chevys. A diesel Sonic might out perform Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost and Mitsubishi Mirage for the honor of having the highest non-Hybrid MPG. Not sure if it’ll be powerful enough to efficiently carry the Malibu around.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      You know, that’s a good point, and I agree.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      According to Automotive News, torque is rated at 275 lb-ft; horsepower is rated at 136.

      http://www.autonews.com/article/20160802/RETAIL03/160809957/gm-will-take-aim-at-vw-with-diesel-chevy-cruze

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Seems like the smarter choice for most would be a 2nd Gen Volt.

    You could talk me into a new Canyon with the baby dirtymax though!

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      “Seems like the smarter choice for most would be a 2nd Gen Volt.”

      Based on the pricing we don’t know yet, or the MPG numbers we also don’t know yet?

      Funny how with no details except “it’ll be available at some point,” you can judge it against others and make such a determination.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “Funny how with no details except “it’ll be available at some point,” you can judge it against others and make such a determination.”

        Fair enough. But small diesel cars rarely make sense in the US. The Volt will drive nicer, have lower maintenance costs and run cheaper per mile. Price and resale values(unknowns)will also factor into TCO.

        I own a Gen 1 Volt so I’m admittedly biased.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      True, but that assumes you have a charger available. I think my neighbors would probably get a little miffed if I ran an extension cord from my third floor place down to my car every night.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Not really. The Volt is good if you do primarily shorter (<50 miles) trips that don't empty the battery. Diesel buyers tend to be long-distance highway runners.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Without Euro levels of fuel pricing, small car diesel makes no economic sense. And if the long term maintenance costs of post 2007 diesels (DPF, massive EGR, DEF injection) are as bad as I expect they will be, the numbers are even worse.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      And that’s why once my TDI is bought back I’ll be done with diesel. I’ll takes slight hit on fuel economy if it saves me fortune on maintenance.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The DEF, in particular, is so cheap it’s not even funny. Last time, I filled up for $8.00 at a truck stop. But the DPF is something to consider, ditto for the pricey 40K-mile DSG fluid services if you didn’t get the manual transmission.

      • 0 avatar
        notwhoithink

        Sure, DEF is cheap. But that’s an entirely extra system that has to be added to the car to keep it running, not just the fluid. Add to that the expensive DPF (or in VW’s case, a combined DPF/catalytic convertor) that is prone to early failure, and EGR that is prone to clogging. The engine design on a diesel is simpler and (presumably) cheaper than on a gasoline engine, but then you get all of these other peripheral systems for emissions control that add complexity and cost. Then there are the glow plugs, which can randomly go bad and cost a small fortune to replace.

        I’ll stick with a car that can get high 30’s MPG with gas over something that gets mid-40’s on diesel (as my TDI does).

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          I’m not sure that the engine design of a diesel is appreciably simpler than that of a spark ignition engine. Most spark ignition engines do have variable valve timing these days, which I presume diesels do not, and they have a throttle body, but other than that, what’s the difference? Spark engines have an ignition system but diesels have glow plugs, both have fuel injection systems, and the block/crank/pistons are similar, although diesels have to be stronger to deal with the higher combustion chamber pressures and more explosive nature of diesel fuel combustion.

          There’s some ongoing research into creating diesel engines for light aircraft, one of the problems these engines have is that they can’t use a conventional metal propeller because the engine’s power pulses are so abrupt.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            Diesels have throttle bodies now too. Not to govern engine output, though; they’re there to assist in EGR pull through the restrictive coolers.

      • 0 avatar
        Paragon

        I’ll dispute the cheap notion, Kyree. At $2.79 a gallon, it actually costs more – per gallon – than gas right now. But, admittedly, you never need as many gallons of DEF as you do fuel. So, perhaps that’s what you meant. I’ll note that the price of DEF doesn’t seen to fluctuate throughout the year, nor from brand to brand, so it is a fairly stable, fixed cost.

  • avatar
    Varezhka

    Is this engine unrelated to the Opel diesel that was also under fire for emissions cheating?

    Still wary of the emissions characteristics of smaller diesels, regardless of the company.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I don’t think it’s fair to compare what VW was doing in the US to what’s going on in Europe. VW just out-and-out cheated on the EPA/CARB requirements. The controversy with Opel and others in Europe is whether they just exploited loopholes in the regulations.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    I hope GM (and perhaps others) can step in and claim most of what VAG had to abandon. I know some owners won’t be looking to diesel for their next car purchase, but I believe if dieselholics give GM a chance, they’ll be happy they did.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I drove the previous diesel 2.0T Cruze. It was excellent. I already had a soft spot for the Cruze, so that made it better. Of course, it was just easier to stay in the VW ecosystem at the time, because it seemed like it was going to be an orphan product with difficult-to-find parts…which is why I did not purchase one. Plus, I wanted a wagon.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        Kyree, first gen Cruze is loud at low rpms. Pre-2009 vw loud, or louder. Did you notice that?

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I didn’t, on the 1.4T or the 2.0T diesel. I never drove the one with the base 1.8 N/A. In fact, I thought the car was very quiet, and generally felt more substantial than it was.

        • 0 avatar
          brettc

          I test drove one of the Cruze diesels just after they arrived at the dealer. Very nice car but way too expensive when I could get a TDI wagon for the same price as the Cruze sedan.

          I did notice that the engine in the Cruze was loud, and I liked it. I came from old IDI VW diesels and love the sound of diesel clatter. Modern TDIs are too quiet (unless the engine is cold and you roll the windows down)

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    As always, the fear with GM products is that they will drop it if it doesn’t sell, and then you’ll be stuck with a valueless orphan (and no parts).
    I could take 10 years to build a diesel Cruze following in the US, and GM’s not known for looking past quarterly results.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Now bring over the Cruze wagon, so VW Sportwagen folks have something to buy!

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Knowing GM they will release 1-2 years after all the VW TDI turn ins making it too late for the former VW owners to purchase it.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      VW TDI buybacks tentatively start November 1st. They are all supposed to be concluded by September 2018. GM better get humping if they want this business.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Yeah, the tentative date they gave me for buying back my car was November 3rd. But I’ve already decided I’m not getting another diesel. I’m trying to decide whether to get an economy car (or some kind of hybrid), or to upgrade to a RWD mid-sized sedan.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          So you’re looking at everything from an Elantra to a Prius to a 3-series or Q50? Malibu Hybrid, maybe?

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Well, the 3-Series is compact. More like a 5-Series, GS, Genesis, E-Class (sedan or wagon), or deeply-discounted CTS (assuming I could put up with CUE).

    • 0 avatar
      amancuso

      Kyree, LOL at the 3 series being “compact”. The current 3er’s dimensions are practically that of the mid-sized (at the time) e39 5 series.

      E39 (5 Series 1995-2003):
      Wheelbase 2,830 mm (111.4 in)
      Length 4,775 mm (188.0 in) (sedan)
      Width 1,801 mm (70.9 in)
      Height 1,435 mm (56.5 in) (sedan)

      F30:
      Wheelbase 2,810 mm (110.6 in)
      Length 4,624 mm (182.0 in)
      Width 1,811 mm (71.3 in)
      Height 1,429 mm (56.3 in)

  • avatar
    seth1065

    A wagon would help get the sports wagon group’s attention, I really have no idea what I would replace my TDI wagon with if I sell it back, I have been in a few Cruz rentals so I am not sure that is a fair comparison but the interiors are a big step down from a TDI Golf. Also a pretty good amount of TDI drivers choose stick, not sure the oil burning cruz will offer that.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    Just keep in mind that many of those Diesel fans stuck with VW because they offered:
    a) A hatch or wagon
    2) A manual transmission

    You aren’t going to get those stray TDI fans by offering an automatic sedan. GM please don’t cheap out on us, rather try and try and keep those options open.

    Most of the fans are going to wring every possible bit of life out of their MK IV TDIs before jumping ship and by that time, it sounds like Mazda will have their Diesel offering out as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Are there that many Mk.4 TDIs? I don’t see too many of them. I actually don’t see too many Mk.4 TDIs in general, because VW quality really slipped during that era.

      • 0 avatar
        scott25

        Here in small-town Ontario I see more MKIV TDIs than MKV, VI and VII combined. Then again that’s just because MKIV Golfs and Jettas are some of the most common cars on the road still, on par with civics and cobalts, and most of them are Diesels.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Ah. They never sold that many here in OK. Most of what I see are late models, specifically the Mk.6 Jetta and the current Passat. Of the Mk.6 and Mk.7 Golfs, the overwhelming majority of them are 5-door GTI units.

          There aren’t too many of us with the Mk.7 Golf-based vehicles, so I always turn my head when I see one.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      This, times 100. If they don’t offer it with a manual and in both body styles, this is going nowhere.

      That torque figure from a 1.6L TDI is impressive though. The EU version makes 258 lb-ft and 158 HP.

  • avatar
    theonlydt

    Vauxhall/Opel use this engine in their current products – and have made modifications for new products. The plan (apparently) is power outputs from 136hp to 170bhp (twin turbo). Torque 200+lbft to 300lbft.

    What will be interesting is if they have to detune at all to meet US standards compared to Euro VI.

    Their replacing the old 2.0 diesel in the Insignia with the 1.6 in the new old. Maybe we’ll see a Buick Regal with a 1.6 diesel? (no, obviously not).

    http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/new-cars/2017-vauxhall-insignia-will-be-larger-and-lighter

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Presumably, given the woes that Ford, Kia and Volkswagen have faced regarding falsification, they’ll be very careful about making any promises about MPG or output ratings that they can’t keep. So this will be thoroughly emissions-tested.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    “Whisper Diesel” it sounds like what Vin and Gwyneth Paltrow named a love child.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Who builds the 1.6? Is it a VM Motori (I love saying that with an Italian accent) engine, like the 2.0 TD?

    I see a lot of first-gen Cruzes on the road, but I’ve only ever seen one 2.0 TD on the road. How many did they sell?

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I assume with this new engine, you get in the car and the ignition chime goes “Hey how you doin lemme whisper in yo ear.”

    That song is diiirrrty.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Also, has anybody driven the new Cruze to see if it’s – good? And does it maintain the solidity and superior compact ride quality of the old one?

    I’ve seen a couple on the roads now and one thing I’m sure of is the original version wins on looks.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      I actually like the new one better. First Cruze looked like a Impala-size car that shrunk in the wash.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I guess I prefer the blocky and substantial look, even though it was a small car. The tail lamps always bothered me, I think with a slight revision they could have been much more cohesive.

        By extending the up-angled line from the inside portion of the tail lamp (keeping with the curvature of the bumper), they could have created an almost Lexus-like rear end.

        Please excuse the horrible Paint job.

        https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B38ULhHiIa2IZU9RaVcyV1RHYzQ/view?usp=sharing

  • avatar
    satisfy_my_soul

    Soon to be former Jetta Cheatwagen owner here ( I loved my TDI so much, so sad to have it sent off to meet a horrible death) . GM if you are listening, add a 5 door variant and at least attempt to keep the chintzy interior material to a minimum and I will STRONGLY consider buying one. Otherwise this thing is gonna tank. No amount of marketing is going to save it from languishing on the lot. There are way too many petrol options out there to choose from in this segment and the ” but but this gets 47HWY MPG” argument is not going to be enough.

  • avatar
    mshenzi

    The ‘seamless’ transition for me, if I wanted to semi-reproduce what I already have, would be to go from the TDI Golf to the Cruze hatch with a diesel. But once I turn in the Golf, I’d need for that combination to actually be on the market.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    It’s damn prettier than a Jetta, to boot.

  • avatar
    Aphidman

    I have had a Cruze Diesel since November 2014. I rather like it. It was a demonstrator with about 3500 km on it, so I got it at a good discount. They wanted the auto journalists to like it, so they loaded it up with goodies.

    I chose it because I like taking long highway trips, and I wanted something a bit different. The fuel economy aspect was not a big motivator, though the thing can go 1000 km on the highway on one tank.

    Never had problems with the DEF freezing up. I remember it started perfectly after I had left it outside overnight, not plugged in, in -30°C.

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