Move in right direction
The little Holden-badged sub-compact SUV gets an update with a new engine, writes CHRIS RILEY
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.