The Holden Cruze hatchback was largely designed in Holden’s Melbourne studio. It’s built at the Holden plant in Adelaide, and has undergone extensive local engineering for Australian conditions. That’s not the only good news for the Australian automotive industry; the Aussie designed Holden Cruze is made in various GM factories worldwide and is being sold in more than 60 countries, where it’s generally badged as a Chevrolet.
This significant Australian input in the Cruze enhances the reputation of our local engineers and stylists and will stand our country in good stead as the future of the industry shakes out over the next few years.
Holden Cruze comes with a choice of three body types (sedan, hatch and wagon) four engines and in four specification levels, Equipe, CDX, SRi and SRi-V. Our test car was the sporty SRi hatchback and we found it to have just about everything we want in a midsize car. The buyer looking for a touch of sportiness in a sensible family car will love it.
The Holden Cruze SRi has five-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels, a body kit comprising front and rear fascias and side skirts, front foglamps, a shapely rear spoiler, chromed grille and chrome inserts in the door handles.
Holden Cruze has Bluetooth connectivity and there’s voice recognition for a good range of functions. The six-speaker audio system with in-dash MP3 compatible CD player can be operated via steering wheel-mounted controls. At night the instruments are bathed in a clear blue light that we found just right. The automatic headlights have a ‘follow-me home’ function and there’s remote keyless entry.
Cruze also gets MyLink, Holden’s new infotainment system that’s standard across the range. In addition to being able to call up stored songs from a phone or MP3 player and FM/AM stations via the car radio, when a mobile device with 3G data connection is hooked up to the MyLink system, the driver will also be able to get streamed digital content from applications including Pandora music radio and Stitcher on-demand radio.
Drivers can access Pandora through the MyLink touch-screen, streaming favourite radio stations as well as using the ‘thumb up’ and ‘thumb down’ buttons to tune station preferences or select music genres. They can also pick out the next track via a steering wheel button or the touch-screen controls. Via the Stitcher embedded app, drivers can choose from more than 15,000 news, comedy, sports and talk radio shows and podcasts from global broadcasters including NPR, CNN, Fox and the BBC.
The previous entry-level Cruze CD was dropped from the range earlier this year, being replaced by the Equipe. Starting at $19,490, $2000 less than the model it replaces, it offers excellent value. Added features include foglamps, sports grille, 17-inch alloy wheels and rear park assist as standard.
Cruze CDX (starting from $24,190) gains premium features including keyless entry with push button start and a reversing camera. The last is also added to the range-topping SRi-V (from $26,490), while the SRi sport model (from $22,490) gets rear park assist as standard.
Those familiar with the Aussie made Holden Cruzes will recognise three engines from the Series II range – the 1.4-litre iTi and 1.8-litre petrol engines and 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel. The MY14 Cruze introduces an additional engine, a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol unit which is standard in the SRi and SRi-V sport models. Average fuel consumption in our SRi test car was in the six to eight litres per 100 kilometres on easy country runs and motorways. The figure rises to nine to eleven litres around town if you’re combating commuting traffic.
The cabin was welcoming and comfortable. The six-way adjustable driver and front passenger seats were appreciated. The seats have bolsters that support reasonably well in cornering, though you wouldn't call them true sportscar seats. There’s good legroom for back-seat passengers, something that’s not always a given in this class of car. There are twin fold-out centre drink holders for use in the front, but only two holders for the three riding in the back.
A wide-opening rear hatch and low loading lip means easy access to the 413-litre boot. If you want a full-size spare wheel, it’s a no-cost option. But it cuts the boot space to 325 litres, though you pick up some of this with compartments under the floor providing nine litres of concealed stowage space. Luggage volume can be up to 1254 litres when the flat-folding 60/40 split rear-seat backs.
The six-speed manual gearbox works well enough, though the ‘throw’ is rather long for our tastes. Having a manual helps to keep the engine on-song when you’re in a hurry. A six-speed automatic transmission with Active Select is also on the price list.
Handling shows the Aussie influence of models for our local market. Ride is slightly firm to gain the best dynamics and we liked the way it remained reasonably neutral in its handling despite having front-wheel-drive. It responds promptly to steering and throttle inputs and corners safely at speeds that are unlikely to be reached by most owners. A sports coupe it’s not, but Holden Cruze SRi provides an excellent machine for the family car driver that wants something more than mere transport.
It’s well built by the guys and gals in Adelaide and deserves even higher sales than it’s currently receiving.
Holden Cruze SRi hatch
Price: from $22,490
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Capped servicing: four scheduled services for the first three years or 60,000km, petrol $185
Service interval: 9 months/15,000km
Safety: 5 stars (ANCAP)
Engine: 1.6-litre DOHC 16-valve turbocharged 4-cyl, 132kW/230Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual; FWD
Thirst: 7.4/100km; tank 60 litres; 186g/km CO2
Dimensions: 4.6m (L); 1.8m (w); 1.5m (h)