New Zealand LCV - - CONTENTS -

As­so­ci­ate Edi­tor, Dean Evans finds plenty to like in com­pact Holden SUV, and Arna pro­vides a young mum’s per­spec­tive.

IT’S THE SUV YOU HAVE WHEN YOU DON’T RE­ALLY WANT A big SUV: Holden’s Trax scores up­dates and a 1.4-litre turbo mo­tor across the range and proves big­ger isn’t al­ways bet­ter… or even nec­es­sary.

Small is big in the SUV mar­ket. Holden’s re­cent makeover for the Trax wasn’t just as much a lux­ury as a ne­ces­sity, with the seg­ment bulging from an in­creas­ingly crowded and com­pet­i­tive small SUV boom.

The likes of the Volk­swa­gen Tiguan, Mazda CX-3, Nis­san Juke, Honda HR-V, Suzuki Vi­tara, Toy­ota C-HR, Kia’s Soul and the Ssangyong Tivoli are just some of the mod­els bat­tling it out in the ju­nior SUV mar­ket.

When 4WD isn’t re­quired, and big­ger isn’t ac­tu­ally bet­ter, small SUVS like the Trax are a smart choice around town pro­vid­ing the ad­van­tages of an SUV, with­out the side-ef­fects of the big ones.

The new-for-2017 Trax gets the same 1.4-litre tur­bocharged four­cylin­der across the three-model range, all paired with a six-speed au­to­matic gear­box and front-wheel drive, clean­ing up the range that’s been on sale since 2013.

If the Trax sounds a lit­tle un­der­pow­ered, it isn’t. The retro red 1980s ‘turbo’ badge on the bootlid isn’t there just for looks.

The four-cylin­der puts out a mod­est but re­spectable 103kw/200nm horse­power/torque combo, and has to push around just un­der 1400kg.

That weight is the Trax’s big­gest bug­bear, with sim­i­lar ri­vals up to 200kg lighter. Though the Trax is no slow-poke, the weight does dull the ac­cel­er­a­tion num­bers a lit­tle.

Put to the test, we man­aged 0-60km/h in 4.1 sec­onds, and just man­aged to break the nine-sec­ond bar­rier for the 0-100km/h sprint, with a 9.8 sec­ond run, ac­com­pa­nied by a fair amount of engine noise as the revs rise through the range.

Around town, it feels lighter and faster, the gear­box’s six ra­tios al­ways keep­ing the engine in its power­band, and on boost – pump­ing in around 10 to 11psi, so it’s hardly a stressed engine.

Though the au­to­matic gear­box of­fers a semi-man­ual mode, it ba­si­cally ren­ders it­self re­dun­dant. But­tons on the side of the shifter

Left: Small SUVS like the Trax are a good choice around town. Bot­tom: Test Trax looked smart in blue paint­work.

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