The Cruze carrier is wellpriced and well-optioned
MUCHlike buying land, in the Holden Cruze wagon extra real estate costs more. The rate is about $25 a litre for the 80 litres of extra space the Sportwagon enjoys over the hatch. The South Korean-built wagon is stylish and well-appointed but misses out on the 1.4-litre petrol engine in locally built cars that is the pick of the Cruze powerplants.
For the $2000 premium over comparable sedan and hatch models, cargo space grows to a solid 500 litres and all variants are fitted with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The CD-spec car can be had with a 1.8-litre petrol engine for $25,790. The 2.0-litre turbo diesel adds an eye-watering $4000 to that price, making it $700 dearer than the higherspec (but petrol only) CDX. Price and spec-wise, they are on a par with rivals, including theVWGolf wagon and the Hyundai i30.
Bluetooth with voice recognition is standard across the range, as are cruise control and iPod integration. The CDX ditches
the 16-inch steel wheels in favour of 17-inch alloys, along with leatherette trim, heated front seats, climate control and fog lamps.
Cruze owners won’t get any surprises, inside or out. GMhas put some thought into the wagon’s tailgate, with the low load height and wide opening making it a smart choice for those who do need to lug a load. The auto transmission is well calibrated but, if you can afford it, opt for the diesel— the 1.8-litre petrol engine propels the wagon at sedate speeds but inner-city stop-start driving does it no favours.
It’s a Cruze, though stretched, which makes the officially small-sized car almost a midsizer. Cargo area is only 19 litres shy of the Mazda6 wagon. Rear seat leg and headroom are good for 180cm adults— they won’t sprawl around but they won’t be cramped.
The chassis rigidity, six airbags and software of its brethren earn the wagon a five-star rating. It earned a respectable 35.04 out of 37 in crash tests, which puts it at the pointy end of the small car class.
I like driving the Cruze and the wagon is no different. It is predictable, unpretentious and well-balanced on the road.
It is far from a performance wagon but the petrol engine has enough mid-range urge to make it a decent drive once under way. The six-speed auto flatters it by keeping it mostly in the torque band. It tends to grab a high gear when it can but will quickly kick back down on inclines or with a heavier application of the right foot.
The steering is likewise decently weighted if not the most precise feel in this class and the brakes are solid.
As with all Holdens, the airconditioning is strong and kicks in quickly, which is much appreciated at this time of the year. The controls are easy to operate and comprehend and the seating/steering position is good for extended stints behind the wheel.
Well-priced and well-optioned, the Cruze wagon is a good thing. A smarter petrol engine would make it a wiser choice but it is still well kitted out against the opposition.