HOLDEN CRUZE CDX REVIEW
The Cruze has been available as a diesel since it launched in early 2009, but only in lower-grade CD spec.
The addition of a CDX diesel variant now adds a dash of luxury to the Cruze oiler, and also becomes the most expensive model in the line-up.
2010 Holden Cruze CDX Diesel Automatic
Nothing is new, per se, however it’s the combination of the fuel-efficient and torquey diesel powertrain with the high-specification CDX trim level that is fresh.
Consequently, the CDX diesels are the most expensive in the range. The manual is priced at $27,990, and the auto comes in at $29,990.
What’s the appeal?
Size, equipment, fuel economy and value are the Cruze CDX diesel’s core attributes, and it makes for a pretty good all-rounder.
There’s plenty of interior space for four (five, if three of those are children), the boot is a decent size and the diesel – while not as efficient as those used by the Cruze’s European competition – uses less fuel than the petrol and is a much better match for the chassis.
What features does it have?
Whether petrol or diesel, all CDX-spec Cruzes come with a healthy list of standard equipment.
Cruise control, a trip computer, heated front seats, heated wing mirrors, rear parking sensors, foglights, 17-inch alloys, iPod connectivity for the six-speaker audio system, leather-appointed upholstery and auto-on headlamps are standard features of the CDX.
Bluetooth phone integration is optional.
What’s under the bonnet?
A 2.0 litre turbodiesel inline four beats beneath the Cruze diesel’s bonnet, producing 110kW at 4000rpm and 320Nm at 2000rpm. That’s almost twice as much torque as the 1.8 litre petrol. On the road, the extra urge is immediately noticeable.
Gearbox options consist of a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. Our tester was equipped with the auto, which also has a tiptronic 'manual' shift function.
Disc brakes are fitted to all four wheels, with ventilated front and solid rear discs. Suspension is MacPherson struts up front with a torsion beam rear axle.
How does it drive?
The diesel easily eclipses the petrol for power, torque, economy and all-round tractability. So, in terms of its powertrain, the Cruze CDX diesel is not left wanting.
It has ample power off the line, and effortlessly deals with hills even when carrying a load.
It is the turbo diesel's torque that is responsible. With a robust 320Nm available from low in the rev range, it has no trouble moving the Cruze along. Its mid-speed acceleration, what you call upon when overtaking, is also strong. The only downside in the model tested is that automatic seems a little mismatched and blunts both performance and economy.
Its shift mapping favours keeping revs relatively high during normal driving, which hurts fuel efficiency and doesn’t properly exploit the diesel’s powerband.
The tiptronic mode is slow and somewhat pointless in a car like this, but that doesn’t mean the auto gearbox is a bad thing – it’s just that the diesel is much better when paired with a manual transmission.
It’s pretty clattery from outside, and an old-school diesel rattle can be heard inside the cabin when accelerating.
The diesel is nowhere near as refined as some European oil burners (particularly those by Peugeot, Renault and Mercedes-Benz), but at least other sources of noise, vibration and harshness (like the wind and tyres) are fairly well isolated.
Considering the Cruze forgoes the complex multi-link rear suspension layout favoured by most of its Japanese competitors, suspension control on rough and undulating tarmac is superb. Around town, it delivers a comfortable ride and deals well with typical urban road conditions.
The ride is nicely compliant with damping force leaning slightly toward the ‘firm’ side of the spectrum, but it’s certainly not stiff.
Generally speaking, ride quality is about par for the segment, although it doesn’t match the more technologically-sophisticated Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf.
What did our passengers think?
With a cabin that’s amongst the largest in the small car class (in truth, the Cruze straddles the line between the small and medium segments), interior space is plentiful.
That said, the dashboard tends to crowd the knees of the front seat occupants, and the width of the centre console can be an issue for taller folk.
The seats are fairly comfortable, but a lack of lumbar support makes them a touch tiresome on long journeys.
Rear legroom is good and there’s even a pair of cupholders in the fold-down centre armrest, but a lack of rear air conditioning outlets could be an annoyance on hot days.
The Cruze’s arched roofline also limits headroom for taller passengers seated in the back, but generally speaking two adults would be quite comfortable on the rear bench.
ISOFIX child seat restraints are fitted to each outboard rear seat, along with the usual top tether points.
Interior quality and feel
Although the design is eye-catching and modern, the quality of some of the materials and trim lets the Cruze down.
The black lower dash plastics are easily marked, and while the centre console switchgear has a quality feel, the wiper and indicator stalks feel light and flimsy.
The leather upholstery is nicely stitched, and looks durable, but it could easily be mistaken for vinyl.
A total of 400 litres of space is available in the Cruze’s boot with the rear seats up, expanding further when the 60-40 split seats are folded down.
The boot floor is flat and reasonably wide, with a generous loading aperture. ‘Gooseneck’ hinges do cut into the luggage area when the bootlid is closed, however the boot is deep enough for it to rarely be a problem.
How safe is it?
A high level of standard safety equipment is a key appeal for the Cruze, with it coming loaded with stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD and brake assist.
In the case of an accident, occupants are protected by six airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, and, for the driver, collapsible pedals. The Cruze has earned a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating.
Fuel consumption and green rating
Holden claims the diesel-equipped Cruze consumes 5.7 l/100km in manual guise, and 6.9 l/100km as an automatic. During our testing of the automatic CDX diesel, we averaged 8.2 l/100km over a fairly even mix of urban and highway driving.
Our feeling is that the automatic doesn’t allow the diesel to fully exploit its torque output. Instead, it prefers to hold onto gears and rev the engine higher rather than change early. How you drive, of course, will always affect a fuel consumption result. We tend to work test cars pretty hard which may account for some of the discrepancy in claimed versus the actual fuel economy we achieved.
CO2 emissions are listed as 149g/km for the manual, 183g/km for the automatic.
The Federal Government’s Green Vehicle guide gives the Cruze diesel manual 7.5 out of 10 for greenhouse gas emissions performance, while the less efficient automatic scores 6.5 out of 10. Both transmissions have a 5 out of 10 score for particulate emissions.
How does it compare?
Until the arrival of the Cruze hatch later this year, the Cruze competes directly with the Ford Focus sedan, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla, Mazda3 sedan, Mitsubishi Lancer, Kia Cerato, Subaru Impreza and Suzuki SX4.
The Focus sedan isn’t available with a diesel engine (there is, however, the TDCi hatch), and neither are any of the others.
The VW Golf, Hyundai i30, Peugeot 308, Peugeot 3008, Renault Megane and Kia Soul all have fuel-sipping diesel options, but none are available as a sedan – nor with the same amount of equipment at the same price point as the Cruze.
All new Holdens are sold with a three-year/100,000km warranty, which covers the engine, transmission, clutch, interior and exterior.
The Cruze CDX is available in seven colours: Olympic White, Carbon Flash Black, Iced Blue, Morrocan Blue, Pewter Grey (as seen on our tester), Velvet Red and Nitrate (silver).
The Cruze CDX diesel manual is priced at $27,990, and the auto costs $29,990 (before on-road costs).
With a grunty diesel engine, generous equipment levels, a sound safety package and a decent-sized interior all costing less than $30,000, the Cruze represents great value buying.
The automatic wouldn’t be our pick – we’d instead take the cheaper and more efficient manual – but no matter which transmission is selected, the Cruze delivers decent performance and economy at a very agreeable price.