2013 HOLDEN CRUZE SPORTWAGON REVIEW
Vehicle style: Small car
Power/Torque: (Expected) 104kW/176Nm
Fuel consumption listed: Unlisted | on test: 7.2 l/100km
Wagons, traditionally, have been important to Australian car buyers. And while we’ve substituted most of our sedan-based load luggers for jacked-up faux-roaders, there’s still a need out there for small cars with plenty of space.
However, unlike the sedan and hatch models built just down the road in Adelaide, the Cruze wagon is fully imported from South Korea. It wears a “Made for” rather than a “Made in Australia” badge.
No official figures are in place yet for things such as the petrol or diesel engines’ performance and fuel use – the car launches in January.
TMR got behind the wheel for a preview of the newest Holden at the car maker’s end-of-year media wrap-up.
The Cruze Sportwagon range kicks-off with the $25,790 CD which prices the extra cargo space of the wagon at a $2000 premium over automatic sedan and hatch variants (and $4200 over manual versions).
Our drive however was restricted to a top-of-the-line CDX powered by the Cruze’s traditional entry-level 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed auto. There’s a diesel version coming.
Open the door and you're in familiar Cruze territory - that means a well-designed interior that's on par with the segment, but not class leading.
The seats, leather in our test car, are reasonably shaped and comfortable - front and back - and though the squab is shorter in the rear, legroom is very good.
Importantly, the doors close snugly, isolating sounds from outside (which adds to a feeling of quality).
In terms of features and specification, a big model refresh of the Cruze is due in March next year, so there’s not much point in Holden doing too much different with the wagon.
A two-model wagon line-up will keep things simple for Holden.
Standard kit on the CD runs to 16-inch steel wheels, Bluetooth with voice recognition, audio controls on the steering wheel, a set of much-needed rear parking sensors, and dusk-sensing headlights.
Safety includes six airbags and a top 5-Star ANCAP crash rating.
Step up to the $3350 more expensive CDX, and you add 17-inch alloys, heated front seats, leather trim on the steering wheel and gear shifter, fog lights and climate control air-conditioning.
The diesel model is a whopping $4000 premium over the entry-level car’s price, meaning buyers hand over more money than for the luxury-spec car, but get less features for it.
The load space is pretty useful, rating at 500 litres of luggage space contained beneath a retractable cover, jumping up to 1478 litres of luggage space if the rear seats are flipped forward.
And the lip is low - something family 'shoppers' will appreciate.
The Commodore Sportswagon-style tailgate is cut into the roofline, so once it is up it is possible to sit on the boot floor without hitting your head on the roof.
It also makes opening the tailgate in confined spaces (like a carpark or garage) easier as the opening arc is shifted inboard (as in a hatch).
There’s no 12-volt socket, and only a single low-mounted light, but the wagon has two handy plastic storage tubs on either side of the load space.
ON THE ROAD
The wagon version adds about another 70kg to the wagon’s kerb weight, and the extra bulk actually helps the Cruze in terms of ride and handling.
The rear of the car feels more settled than the hatch and sedan versions. On road, it's quite comfortable with suspension compliance that - on the basis of our drive - would seem well-matched to Australian road conditions.
The only downside to the Cruze Sportwagon lies under the bonnet.
The 1.8-litre petrol engine is not the best one in Holden's cupboard - the 1.4 turbo is a much better unit.
But for now, the wagon gets the 1.8 litre. We don't have its official specs - it likely matches the sedan's 104kW of power and 176Nm of torque - but acceleration is somewhat lacklustre, and it works hard low in the rev range and with a coarse soundtrack at the higher end.
Gear changes from the six-speed auto are smooth in normal driving, but push the Cruze wagon in traffic and the shifts become snappier as the gear ratios work to extract the ideal amount of torque from the engine.
The better choice is likely to be the 2.0-litre diesel, with performance expected to match the other Cruze models’ 120kW and 360Nm. Traditionally, this model accounts for about one in five Cruse sales in hatch and sedan form.
No official fuel use figures are yet available for the Cruze wagon range, but on test, and admittedly with a lot of highway cruising, we achieved a respectable 7.2 l/100km.
On road performance is let down somewhat by the Kumho Solus tyres, which grip well in the dry, but like with the rest of the Cruze range that uses the same rubber, struggle in the wet.
FIRST DRIVE VERDICT
Our drive of the Holden Cruze CDX wagon is only a preview of what is to come early next year in what should turn out to be an exciting 12 months for the carmaker.
The Cruze also gets a major update early in the year that is expected to add more fuel-saving measures such as a stop-start system.
The Cruze Sportwagon though is promising.
It's priced well, and its lines are appealing. While families will likely continue to lean to SUVs, it's a welcome addition to the Cruze range, although even Holden admits a significant part of its reason for being here is to attract fleet buyers.
Potentially, it’s this focus that has robbed us of the best engine - and most fuel efficient - in the Cruze petrol-powered line-up: the 1.4-litre turbocharged engine (good for 103kW of power and 200Nm of load-shifting torque).
If you can live with the lack of sparkle under the bonnet, the wagon is a good adjunct to the Cruze range.
However, we’ll wait for the more expensive, less-equipped diesel to arrive before passing final judgement. It could be worth the extra money.
- Cruze Sportwagon CD - 1.8 litre petrol auto - $25,790
- Cruze Sportwagon CD - 2.0 litre diesel auto - $29,790
- Cruze Sportwagon CDX - 1.8 litre petrol auto - $29,040