The Cruze is arguably the most important new model Holden has introduced in the last 30 years or more. At a time when the local market is fundamentally changing and moving into small cars in a way that could not be imagined even a few years ago, Holden took the plunge and committed to a new generation of small cars.
The Cruze was the most important piece in the modern Holden jigsaw puzzle. Then Holden boss Mark Reuss excitedly pronounced it as the reinvention of the company when unveiling the Cruze in 2009.
The Cruze, he said, was Holden's first serious attack on the small car market; one the company was very serious about. Designed by GM's Korean division the Cruze was initially sourced from Seoul, but with plans to build it locally.
The Cruze hit the market in 2009 as a four-door sedan in CD and CDX versions. With crisp lines and a clean, chiselled look the Cruze sedan comfortably slipped into the small car crowd, but that could be an issue for anyone wanting something different.
While it was a pleasant looking car it somehow left you wishing for more. The interior was well put together and pleasantly styled with all the features you could wish for.
Inside there was generous space, with impressive head and shoulder room for four, although the rear was a little squeezy if you wanted to seat three in the rear. The CD got cruise standard, plus air, multi-function steering wheel, height and reach adjustable steering, height adjustable seats and power windows and mirrors.
Move up to the CDX and you got all of that and more. You sat on leather trim, gripped a leather steering wheel, and listened to CD sound. If there was a criticism it would be the backlit instruments, which were buried deep in a binnacle and as a result were dark and could be difficult to read in some conditions.
Cruze buyers could choose from a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel. At its peak the 1.8-litre engine was putting out 104 kW and 176 Nm, while the diesel peaked at 110 kW and 320 Nm.
The performance with the 1.8-litre engine was spirited without being breathtaking, while the turbodiesel had plenty of urge low down in the rev range.
There was the choice of five-speed manual and six-speed auto transmissions, with final drive through the front wheels. The manual was a nice shifting unit, while the auto was smooth and unfussed, and offered manual shifting.
On the road the ride was firmish without being hard or uncomfortable. It was well controlled and handled all surfaces with aplomb without ever losing its poise. The steering was well weighted and progressive with good feedback for the driver.
ON THE LOT
Pay $15,000-$19,000 for a 1.8-litre CD, add $3000 for a diesel engine. Step up to a CDX and pay $18,000-$22,000 for a 1.8-litre, add $3000 for a diesel engine.
IN THE SHOP
The build quality of the Cruze was generally of a good standard, the fit and finish neat and tidy, and few complaints have been received at Cars Guide. That said, the complaints of high oil consumption and problems with the interior trim experienced by one reader should be noted.
When checking cars before purchase check the fit and finish of the interior trim and ask for a service record.
IN A CRASH
With front, side and head airbags the Cruze was well equipped to handle a crash. When tested by ANCAP it was awarded five stars out of a possible five.
UNDER THE PUMP
Holden says the 1.8-litre Cruze is E10 compatible and will return 7.0-7.5 L/100 km, when tested by Cars Guide the it returned 8.3 L/100km. When powered by the turbo diesel engine the fuel consumption dropped to 6.8 L/100 km.
Margaret Cameron is disappointed with the lag in response of her turbodiesel Cruze CD manual, which she says makes overtaking a problem. She likes the safety and layout of the Cruze, but says the seats are uncomfortable and she would like a footrest for the left foot. Overall she says the 2006 Astra diesel she owned before the Cruze was better.
Shelley Edgell says her Cruze is fantastic to drive, the fuel economy great at 6.1 L/100 km, the interior comfortable with everything close at hand, although there are times she would like a sixth gear.
John and Carol aren't at all happy with their Holden Cruze CD petrol. It has consistently used oil since they have owned it and they have had trouble getting Holden to fix it. They have also had problems with a number of interior trim panels needing to be replaced.
ALSO CHECK THESE
VW GOLF 2009: Classy European hatchback delivers plenty of European pizzazz in a small package. Well built, choice of petrol and diesel engines, refined ride and handling. Pay $18,000-$24,000.
FORD FOCUS 2009: Euro Ford looks the goods, rides and handles well, has zippy engines and is generally well built and reliable. Pay $17,000-$21,000.
TOYOTA COROLLA 2009: The traditional small car benchmark is well built, reliable with plenty of equipment. Well respected the resale of Corollas makes it a good proposition. Pay $16,000-$24,000.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Safe, well-built and roomy small car for the family. 70/100