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by Tim Beissmann

The first true Holden Cruze hot-hatch has been unleashed in Australia, with homegrown tuning company Walkinshaw Performance unveiling a high-performance version of the locally made small car with a price tag just below $50,000.

Based on the $29,490 Holden Cruze SRi-V 1.4 iTi hatch, the $19,995 WP Cruze Hot Hatch package introduces a number of visual and performance upgrades for a total cost of $49,485 before on-road costs.

Power from the Cruze’s turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine has been boosted 75 per cent (up from 103kW to 180kW), while torque has also climbed 55 per cent (from 200Nm to 310Nm).

Walkinshaw Performance estimates the WP Cruze will launch from 0-100km/h in 6.6 seconds, making it roughly three seconds quicker than the standard Cruze SRi-V. Official speed tests are yet to be completed, but the company’s general manager, Tony Harris, told CarAdvice he believes it will become the first Cruze in the world to run the quarter-mile in under 15 seconds when it’s put through its paces later this month.

Walkinshaw Performance says the Australian-engineered performance upgrades are the result of hundreds of hours of testing, refinement and collaboration and have been delivered “without compromising the driveability of the vehicle”.

Included in the package is an upgraded turbocharger and exhaust manifold, a dual-outlet stainless steel exhaust system, an all-new front brake package with four-piston 343mm rotors, and an upgraded and recalibrated suspension package developed with Bilstein and Irmscher.

The WP Cruze Hot Hatch also scores 18-inch white Irmscher alloy wheels, a WP-branded interior by Blackmans, WP sill plates, a modified gearstick and a matt white exterior wrap by Exotic Graphics.

HPF owner Rob Vickery said the secret of the WP Cruze Hot Hatch’s performance was its linear power curve.

“Upgrading to a bigger turbo sounds like a simple way to get big horsepower. But in a front wheel drive, without the right engineering behind it, you could easily make it unmanageable and unfriendly,” Vickery said.

“We’re really proud of the end product and we know it is going to be popular with customers looking at something extra for their Holden Cruze that doesn’t compromise on driveability.”

Walkinshaw Performance is also offering less extreme upgrades for the Cruze hatch, starting at $1195 for an ECU recalibration.

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