Cost vs design: Chevrolet Cruze or Ford Focus Trend?

What's the wiser choice?
by Botchi Santos | Aug 4, 2010

Hi, Botchi!

I’m thinking of selling my Toyota Vios and replacing it with a bigger car. My budget is around P750,000 to P800,000. I decided not to include the Toyota Altis in my list due mainly to the design, which I don’t like. The Honda Civic, on the other hand, is a bit out of my budget. I find the Mazda 2 a bit small--even smaller, I think, than the Vios which I currently own.

I have two cars in mind. One is the Chevrolet Cruze 1.8 L (MT), which sells for P808,888, and the other one is Ford Focus 1.8 Trend at P799,000. I talked to dealerships of both brands and they can actually give further discounts. Will all discounts in, the Ford Focus will come out cheaper by around P40,000 to P50,000. My only concern for this car is that the design is already a bit old. I’ve been doing online research and found out the new look will be released in two years, and I think this will severely affect the retail value of the Focus.

The Chevy Cruze, on the other hand, is more expensive than the Focus by around P50,000. The higher cost, however, is compensated by the fact that the model was released just this year. I’m more or less sure Chevrolet will not be releasing any new model soon or probably in the next five years or so. The only concern I have is that I’ve heard from other people that Chevy’s previous model, the Optra, had a lot of problems. I heard about one owner who kept returning his car to the casa due to a lot of problems. Would you know if the Optra’s issues are true and if Chevrolet has improved on the workmanship particularly with the Cruze?

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As a final note, I would like to ask your opinion on which car gives better value. Is it the Ford Focus, which is P50,000 cheaper but a few years older, or the Chevrolet Cruze, which is a newer model but may have maintenance issues in the long run? Your overall comment on the two cars--from interiors to performance to looks—would also help.

Thank you so much!

Jerome

Hi, Jerome!

Thanks for the email. I hope everything is well in your end.

I'll be honest about the Ford Focus, I love it (especially the five-door hatch) but I have very strong reservations about certain things in it: the overly-long gearing which makes in-city driving suffer greatly, and how it affects fuel economy. The Focus also has a weird driving position, a huge departure from typical Japanese and German cars. My backside and thighs feel sore after driving the Focus. It is a good car that offers very well-sorted handling and a solid feel. It’s the type of car you’d love to throw around sweepers or yank the e-brake for those quick J-turns around deserted city streets. The diesel five-door is my top pick. But I have a hard time accepting the quirks of the Focus for it to be my only car to drive.

As for the Cruze, the interior looks very classy and it feels well-built but, unfortunately, I have yet to drive one so I can't comment on the driving feel. I do remember a number of my fellow motoring scribes saying the Cruze delivers a great smooth ride but is really slow and is no match for the Honda Civic and Toyota Altis. A slow car for me is a mortal sin.

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The Optra was allegedly plagued with a bunch of transmission and electrical wiring-related problems but there is no definitive proof to this rumor. And it is rather unfair to think that the Cruze will share the same fate as the Optra.

I have a wild card recommendation: the Honda Jazz. If I were to drive only one car while having to contend with the usual constraints of the average Filipino, it would be the Jazz. There is a huge amount of space inside, and the versatile interior can accommodate a number of balikbayan boxes. I have one at home and I usually use it to transport car parts and spares (most recently five pieces of 18-inch wheels and tires mounted together). I've also driven the top-model 1.5 V AT variant from Manila all the way to the Lingayen Gulf in Pangasinan and back, averaging about 120 kilometers per hour most of the way and covering just a shade under 500 clicks in 14 hours of almost non-stop driving and the Honda Jazz never skipped a beat. I did hit 170kph on long deserted stretches of road with four adult passengers. I was still able to get 14km per liter, too. Driving solo on the highway, the best I've gotten is 17km per liter driving at 120kph to 130kph. As you can see, the Jazz ain’t no slouch but it doesn’t drink like a fish. The Focus drinks like a Spaniard after winning the World Cup especially in the city because the overly-long gearing really hurts acceleration and puts tremendous load on the engine. Out on the highway, driving the Cruze steadily should improve its consumption, but still nothing like a Honda Jazz.

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In my humble opinion, the Honda Jazz is the more intelligent choice versus the Cruze and the Focus because driving dynamics are spot on, there is huge space inside and the interior is very versatile. It is also over P800,000 if you get the top-model 1.5 V AT but it’s well worth it. I know it is still a small B-Segment car like the Vios you own have you but asked yourself why you want to get the bigger C-segment car? Is it because of the prestige (bigger car = more money and wealth) or the space? The Jazz has the coveted H badge, so there is prestige by the boat-load. As for space? Nothing short of a pick-up will match the Jazz's versatile interior space.

Hope this helps you decide which car you will get.

Botchi Santos
Consumer editor

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