WE turn the spotlight on the Holden Cruze CDX Sportwagon and ask the important questions, including the biggest --  would you buy one?

What is it?

The very practical and in many ways better looking wagon version of Holden’s popular Korean built Cruze. This one comes with the even more practical and desirable diesel engine - but at a cost.

Explore the 2014 Holden Cruze Range

How much?

Prices for the wagon start at $23,690 for the CD with a petrol engine. The same car with a diesel is a whacking $4000 more (ouch). Our top of the line CDX diesel tips the scales at $30,190. If the 1.8 litre petrol engine was not so underwhelming, we’d say take the money and run.

What are competitors?

Small wagons form a fairly exclusive club.  These days most have happily transitioned to SUVs, but there are still a few holdouts that prefer the more car-like attributes of a wagon - enough at least to make it worthwhile. Apart from Cruze, the Hyundai i30, Volkswagen Golf, Peugeot 308 and Renault Megane models – all of them more expensive.

What's under the bonnet?

The 2.0-litre SOHC 16-valve four cylinder common rail turbo diesel delivers 120kW of power at 3800 revs and 360Nm of torque at 2000 revs. It’s paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with sequential mode that allows the driver to change gears manually if desired.

How does it go?

Diesels are noted for their strong low to mid-range performance as well as impressive fuel economy. Diesel may cost you more at the pump but you’ll get at least 30 per cent more out of a tank. Diesel is starting to find traction in passenger cars as word of their performance spreads.

Is it economical?

With a 60-litre tank the diesel is rated at 6.7 litres/100km giving it a theoretical range of 900km. We clocked up just under 500km car at a rate of 7.7 litres/100km, which is good but not quite as good as anticipated.

Is it green?

Surprisingly the diesel scores only 3.5 stars from the Government’s Green Vehicle Guide while the 1.8-litre petrol version gets 4 out of 5. They produce almost the same amount of CO2 and share the same greenhouse rating – but the petrol achieves a better air pollution rating.

Is it safe?

The Cruze has been a five-star car since 2009, with six airbags and a full suite of driver assistance systems. A reversing camera is standard on this version.

Is it comfortable?

Yes. The interior is inviting and the seats are comfy, with excellent ride quality from the suspension in the second generation model.

What's it like to drive?

Surprisingly good. Holden has worked hard to refine the Cruze and it is starting to pay dividends. The performance and handling are at the higher end of the range, but it faces some stiff competition in this department.

Is it value for money?

CDX adds leather and climate air, as well as a reverse camera, rear park sensors and keyless entry and start. The interior has been upgraded with a high quality metal appearance console with chrome top controls, in addition to power adjust heated front seats.

The CDX scores 17 inch alloys, but instead of a space saver or full size spare wheel are can of goo and an air compressor are standard. The MyLink infotainment system is standard but requires a mobile phone with a substantial data allowance to provide full functionality including navigation.