The Holden Cruze range has just gained a hatch version for the same price as the sedan. And there will be few surprises for those looking for the aspects that have made the sedan so popular. Mechanical and feature changes are minimal, limited to suspension and steering tweaks and Bluetooth's arrival as standard fare.
Also among the standard equipment range-wide is stability control, anti-lock brakes, six airbags, remote keyless entry, reach'n'rake adjustable steering, six-speaker sound system, air conditioning (but no climate control) power windows, trip computer and automatic headlights.
The new Cruze hatch shares the sedan's 2685mm wheelbase and is similar in width and height - 1477mm and 1797mm respectively - but overall length is down between 79mm and 87mm, depending on the model.
Cruze's hatch form was drawn by the Holden design team in Melbourne and design manager Martin Love says GM management recognised the strength of the studio that created (among others) the VE Commodore, Monaro and Chevrolet Camaro.
"Being such an important global vehicle for GM, it shows a lot of confidence in Holden that we were given this job," he says.
"General Motors Design works as a global operation and Holden's Design Studio is an integral part, so it is incredibly rewarding to take the lead on products like the Cruze hatch which really showcases Holden's talent and skills on a world stage," he says.
Hatch buyers will have to make do with a little less luggage space compared to the sedan's 445 litre boot - if you stay with the puncture repair kit instead of a proper spare tyre, the luggage space is 413 litres, or 325 litres if the no-cost option spare is fitted - some storage trays are fitted around the spare beneath the raised floor.
The rear bench is a 60/40 split-fold and expands the cargo capacity to 1254 litres with the rear seats folded flat.
Two new colours will be added to the range as part of the hatch's arrival - Perfect Blue and Chlorophyll - but the best news for buyers is the five-door won't ask any more of the hip pocket over the sedan.
TECHNOLOGY AND PRICES
Holden says the model-year 2012 CD and CDX models will increase by $250 and the SRi and SRi V top-spec sedans (and hatches) will increase by $500 over the outgoing models, a bigger increase thanks to the addition of a large and clear touch-screen infotainment/satnav set-up for the SRi V flagship.
The updated two bodystyle range runs unchanged engines and starts with the CD with 104kW/176Nm 1.8-litre petrol four-cylinder at $21, 240 for the five-speed manual, or the low-pressure 103kW/200Nm 1.4-litre turbo CD is priced from $22,490; the 120kW/360Nm 2.0-litre turbodiesel adds $2750 to the cost of a 1.4 CD.
The mid-spec CDX is available with the 1.8 litre petrol engine for $24,740 for the manual or the 2.0 litre diesel will set you back $28,740.
The top-end SRi models are only on offer with the turbo 1.4-litre petrol - the SRi is priced from $24,990, or you can add a V and opt for the top-spec SRi V at $28,490.
Fuel economy and CO2 emissions are carry over from the sedan on all models bar the 1.4 turbo manual SRi and SRi-V variants, up 0.2 to 6.6 litres per 100km - Holden says it's due to a slight 14kg weight increase for the hatch's rear structure, but the auto's figure apparently is unaffected.
The six-speed automatic has been recalibrated by Holden engineers for duty behind the 1.4-litre low-pressure turbo engine, changes that will be adopted globally for Cruze; automatic models add $2000 to the bottom line across the range.
Cruze program engineering manager Peter Siablis says the hatch had been specifically engineered for Australian driving styles and road conditions.
"We clocked up a further 140,000 kilometres testing the new Cruze hatch on local roads which helped us develop a number of enhancements for the hatch which weve also applied to the model year 2012 Cruze sedan.''
Siablis says Cruze hatch customers should notice the suspension and steering changes that have been made to the hatch that will carryover to the sedan.
The team has added new suspension and steering bushes - one to improve steering response and the other aimed at upgrading refinement and ride quality - and there have also been added insulating patches at key points in the bodywork to reduce noise intrusion.
The rear window has been fitted with a set of fins which Holden says helps the hatch match the sedan's 0.329 for aerodynamic drag and also provides what the company calls a "worthwhile" reduction in rear lift.
HOLDEN CRUZE HATCH
Warranty: Three years/unlimited km
Service: 12 months/15,000km
Thirst: 6.4-7.4 litres/100km 91RON, 5.6-6.7 lites/100km diesel
Safety: Five-star ANCAP rating, six airbags, stability and traction control, ABS with EBD,
Engines: 1.8-litre four-cylinder, 104kW/176Nm; 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder, 103kW/200Nm; 2.0-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder, 120kW/360Nm
Transmissions: Five-speed manual (1.8), six-speed manual, six-speed automatic
Body: Five-door hatch
Dimensions: 4518-4542mm (L), 1797mm (W), 1477mm (H), 2685mm (WB), 1539-1545mm/1561-1567mm tracks front/rear
Wheels: 16x6.5, 17x7
Spare: Tyre inflation kit/no-cost full-size spare.
OTHERS TO CONSIDER
Price: From $20,330
Engines: 2.0-litre four-cylinder, 108kW/182Nm; 2.0-litre "Skyactiv" four-cylinder, 113kW/194Nm; 2.5-litre four-cylinder, 122kW/227Nm; 2.2-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder, 110kW/360Nm;
Transmission: Six-speed-manual, five-speed auto, six-speed-auto (Skyactiv)
Body: Four-door sedan, five-door hatch
Thirst: 7.9-8.6 litres/100km 91 RON; 5.7 litres/100km diesel.
Price: From $20,990
Engines: 1.8-litre four-cylinder, 100kW/175Nm; 2.0-litre four-cylinder, 102kW/189Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, four-speed auto
Body: Four-door sedan, five-door hatch
Thirst: 7.3-7.7 litres/100km.
Price: From $19,590
Engines: 2.0-litre four-cylinder, 105kW/186Nm; 1.6-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder, 85kW/255Nm
Transmission: Five-speed manual four-speed auto
Body: Five-door hatch, five-door wagon
Thirst: 7.2-7.7 litres/100km, 91RON, 4.7-6.0 litres/100km diesel.