Brown land, green hope
DUSK is upon Bordertown, a speck of a joint on the seemingly endless A8 between Melbourne and Adelaide.
By the roadside, near a billabong, we’re taking photos of the first turbo diesel sedan made in a land that is, as we’ve seen over the past 500km, a wide brown one indeed.
‘‘That must be an important car for you to be takin’ photos,’’ says a little old lady with a miniature dog.
Madam, you have no idea. The locust-spattered, dirt-encrusted Cruze Series II is Holden’s clean, green hope.
As big car sales go ever south, the local Lion’s entrant in the competitive and over-crowded small car class must be to the fore of the pack.
It needs to compete with Australia’s most popular privately bought car, the Mazda3, approach the fleet volume of Toyota’s Corolla and compare to the quality and refinement of Volkswagen’s Golf.
We’re driving this early production example of the Cruze Diesel (the actual model name) in CDX trim from Holden’s HQ in Port Melbourne to its factory in Elizabeth north of Adelaide. By the time we arrive, the first example of this car that you can buy will be rolling down the production line.
Holden claims the diesel six-speed manual is the most economical Australian-made car, capable of 5.6 litres per 100km in ideal conditions, about a litre better than the Series I manual oiler and almost half a litre less than Toyota’s Camry hybrid.
Looking more than ever like a slightly shrunken Commodore and handling very much like a front-wheel drive take on the old stalwart, cruising is the forte of this Cruze.
The 110km/h limit is held in sixth gear at less than 1800rpm. Aircon’ on, it returns 6.2 litres per 100km.
When we get to Elizabeth, we’re allowed to drive a pristine, same-coloured example off the line.
So easy, so amiable has our trip been, it’s more than slightly tempting to drive out through the gates and all the way back.