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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had test driven a 1LT with auto some 6 months ago so the memories aren't fresh, but it seems to me the manual transmission really changes, if not the character of the car, at least the character of the driving experience. I guess in the end I've always preferred to do my own shifting, but in deference to my wife both our cars are automatics.

But driving this Cruze was special- very buttoned down handling, very quiet, very refined- and the transmission is a jewel. It shifts beautifully, the ratios are well chosen, and it really gives the car a lively feeling. And the engine is very flexible- I tried accelerating from around 1300 rpm in 6th (not something I'd normally do, of course) and by going easy on the gas it was something easily accomplished.

Gearing wise, I wanted to try to remember some speed/rpm relationships to give you all an idea how the gearing might compare with that of an Eco, but it didn't stick. I'm guessing that what, maybe 55 mph in sixth showed about 1800-1900 on the tach? Not sure how that compares.

I fiddled with the trip meter, zeroing out mpg, and on a relatively flat (maybe even a slight incline), at 45 mph it was showing about 57 mpg. Motor was still new and tight (60 total miles).

I'm leaning more toward the 2LT at this point, not so much for the features, but the area(s) in which I drive really sort of demand I have a spare tire- the likelihood of a blowout what with all the potholes in the winter and spring is fairly high. Plus I just don't like the idea of being stranded on the roadside with an unfixable flat tire, roadside assistance or no. I've never seen anything definitive from you Eco manual folks that have wanted to get a spare tire. It seems somewhat problematic.

The most lasting impression I had was of just how nice and broad the torque curve on this little 1.4 liter is. I'm cross shopping the Focus, and I hear good things about that 2.0 liter, but I wonder if in real world driving it wouldn't be as satisfying. Plus the manual on the Focus (available only up through 'SE' trim) is only a 5 speed. I gather it's capable of giving you good fuel economy, but my guess is the Cruze with manual trans and 1.4 liter (Eco and non-Eco alike) would probably be even more capable of providing very high fuel economy when using typical hyperniling techniques.

At this point I'm waiting for the dealer to receive their first Autumn Metallic Cruzes, expected delivery time around mid-October (hate to buy a car in a color having never seen it- it could be a rude awakening). If that color would be a good match with the jet black/brick red interior, that may be the route I'd like to go. In any case a 2LT with manual transmission, well, good luck finding one. Pretty much going to have to order it, if that's what you want.
 
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