General Motors’ Chevrolet brand is keen on picking up the pieces of VW’s diesel emissions scandal and turning them into a domestic diesel success story.
That’s the word from GM’s Dan Nicholson, vice-president for global propulsion systems, who told Automotive News that Chevrolet will bring diesel power back to its Cruze compact next year.
The engine in question is a 1.6L available in a variety of states of tune in Europe, where it powers the Opel Astra, a platform twin to the new Cruze. Auto News says the diesel will make 136 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque, but consumer websites for Opel and Vauxhall (GM’s UK division) show that 136 hp motor as making 236 lb-ft. And in any event, we wonder if an even more potent version of that motor — a bi-turbo good for 158 hp and 258 lb-ft — would be the one to come here, to satisfy North America’s taste for power. GM engineers say the engine is so quiet it has earned the nickname “whisper diesel.”
Chevrolet did offer a diesel in its first-generation Cruze, but its appeal may have been limited by a lack of a manual transmission option and strong competition from VW’s Jetta and Golf TDI models. But with those cars out of the picture, at least for the time being, Chevrolet could have the market for compact diesel cars to itself. Despite the VW scandal, Nicholson considers the U.S. (and, by extension, Canada) “one of the few diesel growth markets on the planet.”
GM hit a home run, performance-wise, with diesel versions of its Colorado and Canyon mid-size pickups; whether it can repeat that with a diesel-powered 2017 Chevrolet Cruze depends on how much appetite remains for the fuel-efficient engines in the wake of the VW debacle. And Chevrolet is fighting a diesel-related class-action lawsuit of its own, alleging it fitted “cheat” devices to its first-gen Cruze diesel, but the company denies that claim.
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