HOLDEN CRUZE HATCH REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Five-door hatch
Price: $30,490 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 6.9 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 8.2 l/100km (short drive)
This is the car, the Cruze, that will keep Holden building cars in Australia.
With large car sales continuing to dwindle, a locally-designed and built compact hatch version of the formerly Korean-sourced Cruze sedan is filling the gap.
Australian buyers seem to agree on its quality and value: it’s selling well. And, by and large, they’ve got it right. The SRi-V Cruze hatch tested here, is a well-rounded, nicely built car that is also quite a good drive.
Quality: The fit and finish of the jazzed-up top-spec SRi-V gets some additional highlights and detail touches. It’s a decent cabin, but not up to the quality of the equivalent Mazda 3 or Golf.
The SRi-V model sits on top of the range and denotes a forced-induction engine and a higher level of standard features. Hard surfaces however cannot be hidden, and the ‘leather’ in the SRi-Vis only in the trimmings – and is ‘pleather’ at that.
Comfort: It’s roomy inside with surprising space both front and rear. The design allows for tall Aussies, with ample headroom in both rows.
And the bucket seats are supportive with decent lateral and shoulder bolstering.
Equipment: Standard goodies typical of a top-spec model - but not necessarily of a $30k car – include heated seats, cruise control, auto headlights and wipers.
Also standard is a seven-inch touch-screen sat-nav and media centre in the dash which includes Bluetooth, voice command and a 10GB hard drive.
Outside, the SRi-Vgets fog lamps, reverse parking-sensors, sporty alloys, some faux aero-bodykit additions, and keyless entry and start.
Storage: The boot is 413 litres accessible through the large rear hatch, with a 60:40 split-folding second row that opens the cargo area up to 1254 litres.
Holden offers a full-size spare as a no-cost option, but this brings the boot space down to 325 litres. Most buyers will go with the spacesaver, either through ignorance or for the flatter floor (but it’s not a lot of sense in this country).
But at least there is a choice, and it won’t hit the pocket.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The turbocharged iTi four-pot winds up 103kW at a not-too-peaky 4900rpm and 200Nm from a low 1850rpm, driving through a sportshift six-speed automatic.
Having the power and torque available from low in the rev range makes the power reasonably accessible and tractable.
However, at just over 1550kg, the Cruze SRi-V is pretty porky and you have to wind it up in the lower gears to get any kind of sprightly urge, particularly with more than one passenger.
The SRi-Vfeatures electric steering rather than hydraulic, but the feel is quite good. Cruise control and reverse sensors also add to the sense of a quality drive.
Plus, its fuel consumption and green rating is commendable at 6.9 l/100km claimed and 4.5 stars respectively. (Line-ball with the 6.7 l/100km of the more expensive – by $300 – mid-spec CDX 2.0 diesel automatic.)
Refinement: The nicely balanced 1.4 litre iTi turbo four, combined with a smooth six-speed automatic and well-calibrated suspension and ESP, gives this small hatch a very big tick.
NVH is low, better in fact than the Mazda3 and a match for the Focus.
Suspension: All Cruze models equipped with the 1.4 litre iTi engine score an upgraded rear suspension that helps keep the back-end planted around corners.
It's a simple torsion-beam axle affair, in common with the Cruze sedan. While a fully independent rear end will generally provide a more sporting drive and sharper cormering, the benefit of a torsion beam set-up is its extra rigidity and compact design - great for maximising interior space.
However, thanks to the addition of a Watts linkage, the rear end of the Cruze SRi-V's is quite well-behaved when cornering and handling is generally good.
Braking: The brakes, discs all round, are excellent, matched with an excellent (standard) ESP system.
ANCAP rating: 5 stars
Safety features: Front, side and curtain airbags, front load limiter/pretensioner seatbelts, rear pretensioner seatbelts, front active headrests, Brake Assist, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Traction Control, Electronic Stability Control, reverse parking sensors
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three year/100,000km with roadside assist.
Servicing costs: Service costs vary, check with your Holden dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Volkswagen Golf 118TSI ($31,990) - The Comfortline 118TSI offers a dynamic drive from its turbo/supercharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder and DSG dual-clutch gearbox, and a high level of refinement.
However, standard features on the Cruze like sat-nav and parking sensors are expensive options at $3000 and $1400 respectively on the Golf. (see Golf reviews)
Mazda3 SP25 ($33,670) - No turbo, but plenty of zip from Mazda’s 122kW/227Nm 2.5-litre four and standard spec such as sat-nav is a big tick. Fuel is simple unleaded, but bigger displacement produces a higher 8.6 l/100km. (see Mazda3 reviews)
Ford Focus Titanium ($33,090) - A real threat: a comfortable and dynamic drive and a genuinely good car.
The Titanium comes with a massive standard spec-list including self-parking technology, voice control Bluetooth and audio, and 6.7 l/100km. (see Focus reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Cruze SRi-V hatch is not especially dynamic, nor is it “a revelation”. But it is good buying value.
It’s very well-featured, robustly built, has a suspension tune well-matched to Australian roads, and is very fuel efficient.
Also a plus is the generous interior head and legroom, with the convenience of a hatch. In a tight field, we’d recommend a look at Holden’s Cruze SRi-V hatch if shopping for a quality small car.