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You’ll buy any­thing else, it seems, but Aussie-made is among the world’s best

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Cover Story - PAUL POT­TINGER CARS­GUIDE ED­I­TOR paul.pot­tinger@cars­guide.com.au

‘‘ PA­TRI­O­TISM,’’ a lat­ter-day Sa­muel John­son might have rea­son to say, ‘‘ is the last refuge of the car maker’’.

The for­eign com­pa­nies that en­gi­neer, adapt and as­sem­ble cars in this coun­try have never been shy of wrap­ping them­selves in our flag. The para­dox is that Aus­tralian­made cars, though they’ve never been less pop­u­lar with new-car buy­ers, have never been bet­ter rel­a­tive to the vast, be­wil­der­ing choice that con­fronts buy­ers.

Cars­guide in­ten­sively re­views ev­ery­thing new on four wheels. It mat­ters not to us if it hails from Ar­gentina or Aus­tralia, only if it’s good enough for you.

We drive the new Com­modore soon and will report that in full then. But in the mean­time, we rec­om­mend th­ese three for be­ing not only the best cars as­sem­bled by lo­cal hands but at the up­per ends of their re­spec­tive classes.

HOLDEN CRUZE SRi PRICE From$24,190

ENGINE1.6- litre 4-cyl turbo, 132kW/240Nm

TRANS6- speed man­ual or auto; FWD

THIRST7.4L/ 100km

Some 252,000 small cars sold here last year, a rare con­flu­ence of quan­tity and qual­ity, be­cause the pre­vail­ing stan­dard is ex­cel­lent. At this price point the new­est ver­sion of the Cruze is our pick.

It looks much the same as ever but be­neath lurks a world-class turbo petrol en­gine and the fruits of two years’ in­ten­sive devel­op­ment by Holden engi­neers. It’s that rare thing, a fam­ily-friendly car that’s en­ter­tain­ing to drive, even with — es­pe­cially with — the au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

In fact it’s the best-driv­ing small car un­der $30,000, loaded with what were op­tional ex­tras as stan­dard in­clud­ing a 7.5-inch mul­ti­me­dia screen with Pan­dora. VW’s new Golf, re­leased this month, needs to be ex­cep­tion­ally good to re­tain its place in the sun.

Back in con­tention with the cheap­est lo­cally-made Holden in 21 years.

— Joshua Dowl­ing

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