Move in right di­rec­tion

The lit­tle Holden-badged sub-com­pact SUV gets an up­date with a new en­gine, writes CHRIS RI­LEY

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE -

THE words cheap and cheer­ful spring to mind when it comes to Holden’s Trax.

It’s a car built to fill the grow­ing de­mand (we’re told) for even smaller, sub-com­pact SUVs – hatch-size cross­over ve­hi­cles that sit higher than a stan­dard car but have lit­tle or no off-road abil­ity.

Sold un­der other names in other coun­tries, Trax shares a plat­form and pow­er­trains with the Holden Ba­rina and like the hatch comes out of GM’s South Korean fac­tory.

Un­til now, all Traxes were pow­ered by the same rather pedes­trian 1.8-litre nat­u­rally as­pi­rated four-cylin­der petrol en­gine that is also shared with the Ba­rina and larger Cruze.

Holden has just up­dated the Trax line-up with the ad­di­tion of a much tastier, more pow­er­ful 1.4-litre tur­bocharged en­gine. It’s the same mid-range unit that can be found in the RS Ba­rina as well as the Cruze SRI.

The new 1.4-litre iTi petrol en­gine comes paired with a sixspeed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and de­liv­ers 103kW of power and 200Nm of torque.

In com­par­i­son, the 1.8 that con­tin­ues to power other mod­els pro­duces 103kW and 175Nm. The 1.4 litre en­gine fea­tures a very flat torque curve with max­i­mum torque kick­ing in from a low 1850 revs (torque’s the low down grunt that V8s have plenty of).

Torque re­mains at its max­i­mum level from 1850 right through to 4900 revs, which gives the car great flex­i­bil­ity.

Fuel con­sump­tion is rated at 6.9 litres/100km – which in­ci­den­tally is bet­ter than the 1.8 – but to get the best out of it you need to use pre­mium un­leaded (1.8 gets 7.6).

Holden says the 1.4-litre iTi en­gine has been specif­i­cally cal­i­brated by its en­gi­neers for Aus­tralian roads and en­hanced with a lo­cally-tuned sus­pen­sion.

It doesn’t, how­ever, men­tion the fact that like the Ba­rina the rear brakes are of the old-school drum va­ri­ety.

It’s quite roomy for a car its size but the trun­cated styling is an ac­quired taste (not as good as the Opel ver­sion).

In ad­di­tion to the new en­gine, the top-of-the-range Trax LTZ boasts new 18-inch al­loys, fog lights, heated seats, au­to­matic wipers, a driver’s arm­rest and a sun­roof as stan­dard. Blue­tooth phone and au­dio stream­ing are stan­dard, as is Holden’s MyLink in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem.

Gets a full five stars for safety. Comes with six airbags, re­vers­ing cam­era, rear park­ing sen­sors, trac­tion and sta­bil­ity con­trol, anti-lock brakes with brake as­sist and elec­tronic brake force dis­tri­bu­tion.

Trax is now priced from $23,990 plus on-roads for the 1.8 LS with a man­ual. An auto adds $2200 to the price.

The LTZ with the 1.8-litre en­gine is priced from $28,490 and comes only as an auto, while the same model with the turbo power plant is $29,990.

Any colour other than red or white adds $550 to the price.

It’s a step in the right di­rec­tion.

Cars should be fun to drive as well as func­tional and if the RS Ba­rina is any guide, this one should add an ex­tra di­men­sion to the brew.

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