Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Driveway - Bill Buys

HOLDEN is pin­ning a lot of hope on its Trax, a com­pact SUV that’s sell­ing quite well (45 in WA in Septem­ber, 436 na­tion­ally) and in one of only a few buoy­ant mar­ket sec­tors.

It's an in­ter­est­ing ve­hi­cle, big­ger than it looks at first glance, but with a pinched snoot, so that its fam­ily grille and slanted head­lights make it look as if it's about to sneeze.

Our steed was the Trax LTZ, with the 1.8litre 103kW/175Nm en­gine and priced from $27,990. It was the top-spec model un­til a cou­ple of weeks ago, when another LTZ emerged with a 1.4litre turbo mo­tor. Costs about 1.5K more, has the same power but 25 more New­ton me­tres and is ap­par­ently pep­pier and more fuel ef­fi­cient.

Its ar­rival has lifted the Trax choice to three, start­ing with the LS, then the choice of two LTZs.

The Korean-built SUV with its swept roofline is clev­erly de­signed so it looks taller in the tail than the nose, the im­age par­tially helped by its 18-inch al­loy wheels.

There are also some bulgy bits to give it a mus­cly look, and if you want to de­velop some mus­cles of your own, just lift the bon­net a few times a day.

The Trax is a soft-roader with a tall stance, good seat­ing and im­pres­sive in­te­rior fea­tures, which is just what a lot of com­muters want. Its MyLink in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem links with An­droid and iPhone phones to pro­vide satnav, ra­dio, mu­sic, Pan­dora, Stitcher, Tunein and a lot more, all dis­played on a big cen­tral colour screen.

And, hal­lelu­jah, it has a proper hand­brake.

It also gets a rev­ers­ing cam­era, auto-on lights and wipers, heated front seats, fog­lights, a trip com­puter and a stor­age tray un­der the front pas­sen­ger seat. There are also rear park­ing sen­sors, the usual elec­tronic driver aids and yes, it has a five-star safety rat­ing.

The 1.8litre en­gine is fine for com­mut­ing. It runs well in suburbia and cruises eas­ily on the free­way, but gets rau­cous and a bit wheezy at higher revs. About 90 per cent of WA driv­ers fall into the com­muter cat­e­gory, so the en­gine’s lim­i­ta­tions shouldn’t mat­ter.

It drives the front wheels through a six-speed au­to­matic and of­fi­cial av­er­age fuel is pretty good at 7.6 litres/100 km.

The Trax's sus­pen­sion is tuned for Aus­tralian con­di­tions and as such it's a good all­rounder.

There's good space for four, five at a pinch, and the rear seat is a 60/40 split sys­tem to in­crease vol­ume.

A sturdy, some­what quirky city SUV that is worth a look.

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