A lit­tle sport goes a long

Holden’s small wagon heads for the front of the queue thanks to Aussie in­put

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive - NEIL DOWLING neil.dowling@cars­guide.com.au

MANY mak­ers in­sist that there’s sports-car per­for­mance in ev­ery sta­tion wagon they make, Holden among them.

Its Cruze wagon is called a Sport­wagon but its engine per­for­mance is far from in­vig­o­rat­ing. The driv­e­train may be tame but the rest of the wagon is a real sur­prise.

Ev­ery small-wagon shop­per needs to drive one be­fore lay­ing down the cash.

VALUE

It’s not a bar­gain and it sits along­side some equally im­pres­sive wagon ri­vals— Hyundai i30 at $24,990 and VW Golf at $29,490, for ex­am­ple— but ar­guably it has some win­ning fea­tures.

It’s a fun drive (a sur­prise for a wagon) and the cost of own­er­ship is tempt­ing. The ser­vice pro­gram for three years is a very rea­son­able $740.

Stan­dard kit is also good, in­clud­ing leather, heated front seats, al­loy wheels, rear park sen­sor and six-speaker iPod/ USB au­dio.

A diesel ver­sion adds only $750 and may be a bet­ter deal, though the three-year ser­vice cost is much higher at $1340.

DE­SIGN

The Korean-built wagon echoes the style of the Aus­tralian-made sedan and hatch but looks al­most Euro­pean with its neat tail. Adding a longer back end hasn’t made the rear look bulky so the wagon re­tains the at­trac­tive lines of the other vari­ants, in much the same way as the Golf wagon re­lates to the hatch ver­sion.

Cabin trim is nicely sub­dued and the use of leather will please own­ers with young chil­dren when it comes to clean-up time. Clear in­stru­ments, log­i­cal switchgear and suf­fi­cient per­sonal stor­age make this a work­able fam­ily car, aided by the long boot for kids’ para­pher­na­lia.

TECH­NOL­OGY

For proof that Holden engi­neers are world class, check how well this car han­dles. Yes, the 1.8-litre four­cylin­der engine (104kW/ 176Nm) is ser­vice­able but the chas­sis, sus­pen­sion and steer­ing are per­fectly co­or­di­nated, out­shin­ing the engine, which is un­en­thu­si­as­tic. The Cruze also gets elec­tric as­sist steer­ing, disc brakes all­round and a six-speed au­to­matic that ab­solves some of the engine’s sins.

There are 17-inch al­loys with a full-size spare and a voice-

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