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  • Sports performance and handling in the SRi variants, high level of refinement, the manual diesel is a sleeper
  • No \'Hill Start Assist\', no Bluetooth streaming

OUR RATING
7 / 10



2011 Holden Cruze Review
2011 Holden Cruze Review
2011 Holden Cruze Review

2011 Holden Cruze Driving Impressions

If I was impressed with Holden’s new Series II Cruze in base model CD spec with the optional 2.0 litre turbo diesel powerplant on the first day of this press launch, then my enthusiasm for this model just did a triple somersault with back flip after a quick (read fast punt) steer in the surprisingly agile 1.4-litre SRi iTi variant.

It might only have a displacement of 1.4 litres, but the SRi is what Holden calls the performance car in the new Holden Cruze range, although don’t think for one minute that the diesel is some kind of slow coach, because nothing could be further from the truth. But more on that later.

The diminutive 1.4-litre turbo petrol unit produces just 103kW of power and 200Nm of torque, and while I’d have to agree that just wouldn’t cut it on the set of latest Fast and Furious instalment, it is a lot of fun, especially in the bendy bits.

You just don’t need oodles of power in a small car when you’ve got 200Nm of torque on tap all the way from 1850-4900rpm – this is a proper little performance car.

There’s a touch of initial turbo lag when you jump on the throttle too quickly, but the moment the needle strikes 1850rpm, the Holden Cruze SRi is the kind of car you want on these long windy roads in rural Victoria. Winding the revs up to 3000-4000rpm in third and fourth will have you moving – rapidly.

2011 Holden Cruze Review
2011 Holden Cruze Review
2011 Holden Cruze Review
2011 Holden Cruze Review

The six-speed manual box is a treat too, and further enhanced by a leather-bound short-throw shifter that makes quick changes a breeze. For a 1.4-litre in what is probably the largest ‘small’ car in the segment, overall performance is very impressive.

It’s also pretty good in traffic too, with a relatively gentle clutch with early take up meaning easy progress in busy conditions. The only thing that appears been omitted from the arsenal of standard kit on the SRi iTi is ‘Hill Start Assist’, which takes the pressure off ‘hill’ starts in cities with undulating terrain, such as Sydney.

I also had a drive of the Holden Cruze SRi-V iTi in automatic guise, and again it’s surprisingly punchy; although by this time we had unfortunately run out of the bendy roads and onto more mundane freeway conditions. That said it’s a six-speed auto with a sequential manual shift option, which Holden call ‘Active Select’ and would surely be a must-have option when you come upon some quiet windy roads.

The other real benefit of choosing the SRi variants in the new Series II Cruze range, apart from the outright performance aspects, is the extra handling credentials from the ‘Watts link’ suspension set-up at the rear end. Charging hard into corners is a very stable affair in the SRi, as the rear axle is effectively stabilised during cornering manoeuvres, allowing for a surprising level of confidence from behind the wheel.

2011 Holden Cruze Review
2011 Holden Cruze Review
2011 Holden Cruze Review
2011 Holden Cruze Review

It’s also very well behaved when negotiating quick changes of direction; the chassis feels well balanced and well and truly up to the task of pushing on in a more spirited fashion.

There’s nothing wrong with the electric power steering unit in the SRi either. There’s good feedback through the leather-bound sports steering wheel too, and plenty of weight from dead centre and through the turning arc.

Despite this being a smallish four-cylinder powerplant that does its best work midway up the rev range, there is a level of refinement with this engine that is every bit equal or better than anything in the same class from Europe. I’m well aware that’s a big call, but the lack of any harsh engine noise or vibration inside the cabin is quite remarkable and testament to the work Holden engineers have done in the area of NVH (Noise, Vibration, and Harshness) on the Cruze.

That said, when you’re carving up the rural backwaters somewhere in the middle of Victoria, there’s a sweet little performance growl (good thing) that still finds its way into this cabin.

I mentioned how supportive these sports style seats are in an earlier piece on the 2.0-litre diesel Cruze, but after a couple of hundred kilometres in the driver’s seat of the SRi, let me reiterate just how good these pews really are.

2011 Holden Cruze Review
2011 Holden Cruze Review
2011 Holden Cruze Review
2011 Holden Cruze Review

It seems you don’t need to enlist the services of Recaro to get some great seats. It’s the level of bolster, both seat and side, that hold your torso pretty much bolt upright, even when pushing hard into fast corners that is a standout quality of these chairs. They are also entirely back friendly over long distances, and I’m not talking about the leather version in the SRi-V either, just the fabric seats.

I also had some time behind the wheel of the six-speed manual diesel CD, and you would be forgiven for thinking that this wasn’t an SRi sports model, such is the way this thing can devour the bitumen.

As I set up my driving position in the Cruze CD manual diesel, one of my colleagues leaned inside the driver’s window, and quietly said, “You’re gonna love that”.

After hopping out of the SRi 1.4iTi, I really didn’t take that much notice of his words of enthusiasm – until about five seconds into the drive route, when all of 120kW and 360Nm came on song. Why Holden haven’t badged this charged-up oil burner as a SRi variant is a mystery to me, although the additional 143kg under the bonnet might be a reason for them holding back.

Not that it worries this thing when the need to overtake a fast-moving B-Double on the freeway arises. Jump on the right pedal, and you’re gone baby gone.

2011 Holden Cruze Review
2011 Holden Cruze Review

Just don’t expect a whole lot of induction noise to come anywhere near the cockpit when you do so. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re driving a diesel or small displacement four-cylinder in the Cruze line-up; the level of refinement inside the cabin is the same – it’s quiet!

Holden has produced a first-class small car in the Series II Cruze and bona fide competitor to the Euro fleet. The only difference is, you’ll get more room in the car if you choose local.


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HOLDEN CRUZE BREAKDOWN

2011 Holden Cruze Review
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Holden Cruze Specs

CD : JH MY12 : 1.4L TURBO MPFI - 6 SP AUTOMATIC - UNLEADED PETROL - 4D SEDAN
Car Details
Make
HOLDEN
Model
CRUZE
Variant
CD
Series
JH MY12
Year
2011
Body Type
4D SEDAN
Seats
5
Pricing
New Price
N/A
Private Sale
$10,230 - $11,630
Dealer Retail
$11,750 - $13,970
Dealer Trade
$8,100 - $9,300
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
TURBO MPFI
Engine Size
1.4L
Max. Torque
200Nm @  1850rpm
Max. Power
103kW @  4900rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
73.5W/kg
Bore & Stroke
72.4x82.5mm
Compression Ratio
9.5
Valve Gear
VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
6 SP AUTOMATIC
Drive Type
FRONT WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
3.23
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
60Litres
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
6.9L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1402
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1477mm
Length
4597mm
Width
1788mm
Ground Clearance
143mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:1200  Unbrake:695
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
10.9
Front Rim Size
6.5x16
Rear Rim Size
6.5x16
Front Tyres
205/60 R16
Rear Tyres
205/60 R16
Wheel Base
2685
Front Track
1544
Rear Track
1558
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Multi-link system, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar, Watt linkage
Standard Features
Comfort
Air Conditioning
Control & Handling
Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Program, Traction Control System
Driver
Cruise Control, Power Steering, Trip Computer
Entertainment
Radio CD with 6 Speakers
Exterior
Power Mirrors
Interior
Cloth Trim, Power Windows
Safety
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats, Side Front Air Bags
Security
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Exterior
Metallic Paint
Other
Service Interval
12 months /  15,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
On the cross member LHS
Country of Origin
Australia