Richard Berry road tests and reviews the 2016 Holden Cruze SRi Z-Series sedan with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
As Holden, Ford and Toyota prepare to close down their production lines I’m getting the same feeling I had as a kid when my parents announced they were divorcing. I thought they were making a huge mistake and if they ended it things would never be the same and there’d be no going back - but maybe just maybe they’d realise this and reverse their decision. Truth is ending the marriage was the best thing for Mum and Dad, but I’m not sure ending production for the three local carmakers is such a good idea.
There’ll be tears for the Commodore, the Falcon and even the Camry, but don’t forget the Cruze, too. The Cruze sedan and hatch have been built at Holden’s Elizabeth plant in South Australia since 2011 and on October 7, 2016 the last Cruze will leave the building. The next-generation Cruze will then be imported.
That means the SRi Z-Series sedan we just tested could be the last Australian-made Cruze we sit in. So how does it stack up against its rivals? Should you wait for the newie to arrive?
You may know that Holden actually had a compact SUV called the Cruze, that was axed and the nameplate was then adopted worldwide for the small sedan and hatch.
The current Australian Cruze is still in its first generation. At 4629mm from bonnet to boot the Cruze sedan is 86mm longer than its hatch twin but the same width, height and wheelbase at 1797mm across (excluding mirrors), 1477mm tall and 2685 between the axles.
Don’t be put off by the conservative looks, the SRi-Z handles impressively well and is fun to drive.
Compared to its Mazda3 sedan rival the Cruze is 49mm longer, 2mm wider, 22mm higher and 15mm shorter in the wheelbase.
It’s hard for a small car to be prettier than the current Mazda3, but the Cruze looks great – even if it’s has the same look since its latest update in 2015.
Where it is beginning to look outdated, however, is in the cabin. It’s still beautifully stylish and knocks many of its rivals out of the park in the design stakes, but the technology is beginning to fall behind.
Designers and engineers from all car brands arm-wrestle constantly over form and function. It’s lucky for the designers they don’t literally arm-wrestle. But the struggle is real to deliver a car that looks as good as possible without compromising space inside or driveability.
You can see this happening in the Cruze, the roofline has been designed so the car has a sleek (ish) profile but this limits headroom in the back seat.
Legroom is almost always dictated by wheelbase length yet, but the design of the cabin also has a major effect on space. I’m pretty tall at 191cm and when I try to sit behind my driving position in the Cruze my knees are jammed hard against the back of the front seat. The Honda Civic RS we reviewed recently only has 15mm more length in the wheelbase than the Cruze at 2700mm but there’s an entire hand span of space between my knees and the seatback.
Holden has re-engineered the suspension to give you the comfortable ride and handling it has today.
You’ll find two cup holders in the rear fold down centre armrest and two in the front next to the handbrake.
Price and features
Both sedan and hatch in the SRi-Z grade cost $29,340 making it the most expensive Cruze. That said there’s only a $10K price difference between the price of this top of the range car and the base spec Cruze of the entire range.
The SRi-Z is loaded with standard features. The list includes a seven-inch touchscreen with Holden’s MyLink media system that has Siri, reversing camera and sat nav, plus leather seats, ignition button and climate control.
the Cruze SRi-Z isn’t a ‘driver’s car’ like a Subaru WRX, but it was comfortable and adept.
The SRi-Z was introduced in early 2016 and in addition to all those features above brings 18-inch wheels painted Satin Medium Android, body kit, sports suspension, alloy pedal covers, Z Series floor mats and door sill plates.
The priciest Mazda3 is the $35,490 SP25 Astina, but you’d shop the SRi-Z against the $27,690 SP25 which is unbeatable in this class for value for money, refinement and advanced safety tech.
Engine and transmission
The SRi-Z has a 132kW/230Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine. It’s a smaller engine than the 1.8-litre in the lower grades, but much more powerful – 28kW more with a whopping (relatively) 55Nm more torque. Our test car has the six-speed manual gearbox which was a good match for the sporty feel of the SRi-Z.
By stepping up to the more powerful engine you’ll need to feed it right, too. It needs the more expensive 95 premium unleaded. Holden rates the 1.6-litre manual gearbox at 7.4L/100km combined – that’s the same as the auto in the 1.8-litre engine.
Don’t be put off by the conservative looks, the SRi-Z handles impressively well and is fun to drive. The ride is also comfortable and controlled, but it hasn’t always been. When the Cruze first went on sale in Australia in 2009 as an import, its ride came under attack for not being suited to local roads and tastes. Holden has subsequently re-engineered the suspension to give you the comfortable ride and handling it has today.
Taking it through our repeatable road loop that reveals weakness and strength quickly, the Cruze SRi-Z isn’t a ‘driver’s car’ like a Subaru WRX, but it was comfortable and adept.
The clutch is on the heavier side for a small car, but the shifting is flick-of-the-wrist easy and that great engine matches the manual well.
The SRi-Z gets fully electric power steering, and its feel doesn’t seem as natural as the hydraulic steering in the lower grades – it is a little doughy.
The Holden Cruze sedan has the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating. While there’s ABS, traction and stability control, plus EBD, the Cruze doesn’t have the advanced technology that is becoming standard on its rivals – we’re talking AEB rear cross traffic, blind spot warning. The next generation Cruze coming next year should see this change.
The Cruze is covered by Holden’s three year/100,000km warranty. The lifetime capped price servicing plan is also excellent. Servicing is required at 15,000km or one year intervals and capped at $239 per service for the first four years then $299 each year for the following three years.