Price: $17,490 to $22,110
2011 Holden Cruze 1.4T SRi and SRi-V Review.
The development program for the Series II Cruze has been in progress since early 2009 and the Australian engineers behind the localisation work think they have got the formula right.
While Anthony Crawford has already covered the development of the Cruze and the diesel variant, I spent some time behind the wheel of the six-speed manual and six-speed automatic 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder variant available in the CD, SRi and SRi-V.
Producing 103kW and 200Nm of torque, the new engine gives Cruze owners a viable option if diesel isn’t their thing and they feel the entry level 1.8-litre could do with more poke.
The 1.4-litre unit starts off quietly at launch and progressively develops a raspy growl as the revs climb to the 6500rpm crescendo. The most impressive aspect of the engine is that the torque delivery doesn’t taper off until very late in the piece, giving the driver an amazing rev band to play with.
Sometimes you forget that you are steering a car with a 1.4-litre engine due to the fact it’s so sporty and involving – something that we have never really had the chance to experience from a Holden Cruze.
In terms of driver involvement, a tight gearbox and very compliant clutch round off the six-speed manual offering, while a respectable six-speed automatic takes care of the twin-pedal brigade.
Unique to the 1.4-litre equipped variants is a Watts Link rear suspension arrangement that gives the SRi and SRi-V a sportier ride that still offers reasonable compliance over bumps and corrugations. Also unique to the 1.4-litre is electric steering, opposed to the hydraulic offering in the other engine variants.
The only downside to the electric steering is play around centre, which can be a little frustrating at highway speeds. Otherwise, feedback through corners and during parking manoeuvres is exceptional.
Fuel economy is fantastic, with the official ADR figures of 6.4L/100km for the six-speed manual and 6.9L/100km for the six-speed automatic.
As a bit of a tech geek, my favourite part of the SRi-V package is the all-new multimedia system. The multimedia system features a 7” LCD screen that is not only capable of playing music, but also watching DVDs. The system also doubles as a satellite navigation screen and features USB connectivity, but no Bluetooth.
The six speakers do a great job of providing plenty of bass and ample treble, giving the car an upmarket feel.
Audio features are topped off with a 10GB hard disk that can be used to rip music and pause live radio (a great feature if you need to dash into the supermarket to buy milk and your favourite Lady Gaga track is playing (Tony’s analogy, not mine)).
SRi owners now also have the option of colourising the car’s interior to match the car’s sporty overtone. Karma and Voodoo coloured SRi models come with blue stitching on the seats, along with blue cloth along the dashboard. It gives the car a unique look and feel that really helps it stand out from the crowd.
Inside the cabin there is a very European feel to the entire package. Everything from build quality and fit and finish, through to the sound the doors make when closed instils confidence in the product. The very comfortable seats are coupled with seat heaters in the CDX and SRi-V models to add that elegant touch.
Rear seat leg room is acceptable for a car of this size, as is the impressive 445-litre boot capacity.
Cruze pricing starts at $20,990 for the entry level CD 1.8-litre. 1.4-litre models begin from $22,240, while diesel variants start from $24,990. Automatic transmissions are available across the board for an additional $2,000.
Mike Deveraux is on the record as saying that Holden no longer considers themselves as just the “Commodore company”. That can be taken as a confident sign that exceptional products like the Series II Cruze are here to stay and new models like the Cruze Hatch are well on their way.
Holden has performed extremely well with the revised Cruze and it’s a testament to how far the company has come over the past five years. If Holden keeps producing cars like this, there will quite simply be no way of stopping them.