Turbo makes difference in 1.4 Cruze models
The new five-door Cruze is most satisfying in 1.4 Turbo form, writes PAUL OWEN.
After years of absence, the manufacture of an affordable family hatchback has returned to Australia in the form of the new fivedoor Holden Cruze.
The most compact dinky- di Aussie-made car adds a further 10 models to the bewildering array of cars built in the General’s Adelaide factory, bringing the total to 51. While the volume of cars built at the facility in Port Elizabeth is still a modest 480 a day, the variety of models and body-styles parading down the assembly line is one of the most prolific of any GM plant in the world.
Seems Holden likes to give its trans-tasman consumers plenty of choice, and the new Cruze Hatch range is no exception, as nine of the 10 models sold in Australia are about to go on sale here.
It’s a range that should attract the attention of both fleet and private buyers, given that there are dumbed- down bottom liners to pique the interest of the former, and slightly more expensive higher-performers that provide a far more satisfying driving experience for the latter.
For the newest engine in the range, an Austrian-made 1.4 litre direct- injection turbo- petrol, marks the crossroads in Holden New Zealand’s marketing plan where the needs of fleets and private motor vehicle consumers part.
Although some canny fleet managers might find the fuel efficiency of this perky 103kw/ 200Nm petrol attractive, few will be willing to pay a couple of grand extra per car to access it.
Meanwhile, its strongly recommended that no private Cruze Hatch buyer leave the Holden dealer without first checking that there is a 1.4iti badge on their car.
For the 1.4 turbo is not only the best performer of the engine range, the five models that enjoy its higher technology also get a more sophisticated rear suspension that dramatically improves the ride of the car while sharpening its steering.
A 1.4 Cruze Hatch is therefore a car that matches the dynamic qualities found in strong new C-segment rivals like Ford’s latest Focus and Mazda’s updated 3, while the other models more reflect the driving standards of the past.
Of the other larger- capacity engines, it’s the 2.0 litre commonrail turbo- diesel that most deserves an upgrade from its present semi-rigid torsion beam rear suspension to the more independent action of the Watts link-
Despite being front-wheel-drive, the new five-door Cruze has a BMW 1-series look about its profile. equipped 1.4 Turbo models.
The diesel’s ability to pump out a healthy 120kw of power and 360Nm of torque, and generate 6.7litres/100km fuel use figures, could have created a Cruze Hatch model that is both as enjoyable and economical to drive as the 1.4 Turbo. However, Holden’s determination to saddle the diesel with old-school rear suspension technology represents a missed opportunity.
The diesel’s torsion beam rear end, a suspension format that last enjoyed widespread popularity in the 1990s, has a better match with the tardier performance of the normally-aspirated 1.8 litre four that is found under the bonnets of the most affordable Cruze Hatch models. Made in Gunsan, Korea, it’s entirely debatable that this 104kw/ 176Nm engine should have stayed there.
Never has torque been found so wanting in any Holden launch drive that climbed over the Adelaide hills.
All Cruze hatchbacks come fitted out with a full array of safety equipment – six airbags, stability control, and braking aids. Bluetooth connectivity, trip computers, cruise control, automatic headlights, air-conditioning and six- speaker MP3- ready audio systems are also fitted to all models. The CDX tier adds 17 alloys (CD: 16 steels), rear park assist, heated front seats, a little chrome- plated bling, while the SRI versions of the 1.4 sport body kits and spoilers to highlight their extra driver appeal.
Top alpha-model is the 1.4 SRIV, the only car with full leather upholstery, voice recognition, and a seven-inch touch-screen control interface.
Expect these extras to cost $3000 more than an SRI, taking the price to $38,900 for a six-speed manual version and $40,400 for a six-speed automatic.