I completely agree I have a HB and I came off a 2012 Cruze. It was the worst car I could possibly own in my life.I don't get what OP is saying. 1.4T Cruze is dog slow. 1.5T Civic is dog slow. I have driven many turbo 4 cars in our search for my wife's new car (which is an SE HB now). We go to the dealers in my Nissan Titan or Infiniti Q60, both of these vehicles absolutely crush cars in the economy segment, so that is my perspective.
It's all relative, they all felt slow to me. Just different degrees of slow. I agree, the M20A is possibly the "slowest" compared to Cruze 1.4T or Civic 1.5T, but the difference is tiny. They are all slow and I wouldn't own any of them.
But, my wife LOVES her new Corolla HB and is not impressed at all by my Q60 or Titan.
This is how Toyota manages to kill it.
The new Corolla is a FAR BETTER car than the Cruze in every way, unless you just focus on one or two metrics. Overall, Corolla is better.