The Holden Cruze ramps up the badge’s presence in the dominant small car segment, reports KEVIN HEPWORTH.
IT will replace both the Astra and Viva at that end of Holden’s range, and the engineering package will be reskinned to build a local version beside the Commodore next year.
The global Cruze will arrive in showrooms next month at a very sharp recommended retail price of $20,990 for the 1.8-litre petrol with five-speed manual. The 2.0-litre diesel is $23,990 in manual trim while a higher-specced CDX version of the petrol car is also $23,990. A six-speed automatic adds $2000 to all models.
The external styling of the imported car has little “wow” factor about it, but that will be changed when the locallybuilt version rolls out of Adelaide next year in sedan and hatch form.
But the interior styling, into which Australian designers have had far more input, is pleasant and reasonably ergonomic.
Space is good with impressive head and shoulder room for four, the blue backlit dash and instrument displays are going to come down to personal taste but there is no denying the impressive lack of wind and tyre noise filtering into the cabin.
The petrol engine is a worked-over 1.8-litre version of the GM Family 1 four cylinder Ecotec petrol, with 104kW of power and 176Nm of torque, 90 per cent of that on tap from 2200-6200rpm. The diesel version is a 2-litre turbo unit with variable vane geometry and 320Nm of torque (90 per cent from 1750-3500rpm).
Fuel economy for both engines is good with the petrol returning official figures of 7L/100km for the manual and 7.5L for the auto. The disparity in the diesel is far greater with the manual an impressive 5.7L/100km and the auto a lessso 6.8L.
The base CD cars come standard with a five-star safety rating, six airbags, electronic stability, anti-lock brakes, 16in steel wheels, engine immobiliser, cruise control, multi-function steering wheel, height and reach adjustable steering, height adjustable seats, MP3 plug-and-play audio compatability, 60:40 split fold rear seats, airconditioning and power windows and mirrors.
The CDX adds leather trim, heated front seats, 17in alloy wheels, fog lamps, rear parking sensors and sunglasses holder.
While the petrol engine cruises happily at the top end getting there is a bit of task and the engine positively buzzes with any attempt to get away from standstill with any urgency.
The high pressure common rail diesel, on the other hand, uses its greater torque far more effectively over the lesser rev range.
The automatic is good, the manual far better. That will not relate to sales of the cars in a predominantly automatic market, but it is a fact.
Dynamically the Cruze is not quite benchmark, steering feel is well-weighted with enough off-centre sneeze factor to give a relaxed feel without any hint of being sloppy.
Feedback is good with a strong linear progression as the steering loads and unloads through corners.
Chassis stability is good with little body roll and just a hint of suspension bump over sharper corrugations.
First take: The global Cruze arrives in Holden showrooms next month priced at $20,990.