The Holden Cruze continues its head-to-head rivalry with small car veterans.
The introduction of the Holden Cruze CDX diesel takes the Cruze model tally to four; a 1.8-litre CD, 2.0-litre CD, 1.8-litre CDX and more recently the 2.0-litre CDX. And these four models populate the very crowded small car segment, which is home to some 28 vehicles under $40,000, where sales figures are dominated by a few worthy contenders; Hyundai i30, Mazda3, Mitsuibishi Lancer, Toyota Corolla and since June 2009, the Holden Cruze.
The Holden Cruze diesel calls in some additional bling as it continues its rivalry with small car veterans such as the Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla.
The Cruze CDX diesel wears a $3,000 premium over the CD model, priced at $27,990 for the manual and $29,990 for the automatic transmission.
Powered by a 2.0-litre turbo diesel, four-cylinder engine, the Holden Cruze puts out 110kW at 4,000rpm and 320Nm at 2,000rpm. The 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine is mated to either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
The classic and conservative styling of the Holden Cruze sees it blend in nicely to many a landscape, and appealing to a variety of buyers. It coped well with my load of a baby seat, pram, shopping bags, scooters, teenagers and all associated baggage!
The exterior of the Cruze CDX is nicely proportioned and comes garnished with enough chrome to add some visual appeal, and to distinguish it from its lower spec siblings. Chrome insert door handles, fog lights and seventeen-inch alloy wheels are nice exterior upgrades.
The interior of the Holden Cruze continues in good style. A combination of leather, matt and hi-shine plastics create a lovely ambience. The leather multi-function wheel, nice instrumentation – with blue illumination for night time - and chrome details throughout support the premium position of this car.
There’s a lovely flow to the interior design, which gives out a mature, sophisticated appearance. Our vehicle was fitted with full leather, which is a little cheap in its look and feel. I think the cloth trim on offer in the CD is a better finish.
The centre console houses an array of buttons and dials, housed within a black hi-shine plastic surround. They sit below the digital information screen and it all blends together nicely. Standard features that set the CDX apart from the CD model include: leather seats (heated for driver and front passenger), a leather wrap multi-function steering wheel, leather wrap gear shift, rear parking sensors, an auxiliary socket for second row occupants and a sunglasses holder.
The 2.0-litre turbo diesel of the Holden Cruze has good power. And once you come to terms with the awkward lag from stand still, you’ll find the power of the Cruze quite satisfying. The Cruze claims to move from 0-100km per hour in 10.4 seconds. As your speed increases, the engine comes into lovely form. Cruising at freeway speeds, the Holden Cruze feels solid and is responsive, and capable when overtaking. Switching to manual gear select gives you that extra control when needed. The difference in haste is noticeable.
The sluggish take-offs of the Holden Cruze are compounded by a loud, intrusive diesel chug. At idle and low speeds, this noise rudely invades your otherwise plush and comfortable cabin. As your speed increases, this noise is far less obvious, but around town, the chug is wearing on the senses.
The Cruze handles nicely and is enjoyable to drive. Steering is firm and responsive and cornering turn in is good. The Cruze is sure-footed and agile, creating a nice connection with the road. I felt a great confidence in its ability. There’s minimal body roll and nicely dampened suspension protects you from harsh road surfaces, providing a smooth ride.
The driving position and cabin comfort are good for both driver and front passenger. Manual adjust seats are a disappointing moment for this range topping vehicle. They are heated however.
The large pillars – front, side and rear – hinder driver visibility. I found myself constantly looking around the pillars. This was of particular concern in tight cornering.
Second row comfort is good, but the seats are a little flat and lifeless. They do however have a nice long base and foot room is good. There are back of seat storage pockets and small in door storage holes. All three seats have adjustable head rests and three child seat anchor points are fitted. The centre armrest is robust and contains two cup-holders. There are no directional air vents for the second row, instead relying on in-floor vents to do the job.
The 60/40 split fold of the Cruze is very easy to engage and luggage capacity is good, with a nice flat load space. A few more anchor points and bag hooks would be useful.
Cruising at freeway speeds, the Holden Cruze average fuel consumption dropped, and maintained, as low as 5.8-litres per 100km travelled. Around town, taking on the everyday chores that involve a lot of stop start driving, average consumption was closer to 9.5 litres.
The Holden Cruze boasts a five-star ANCAP rating, with six airbags - front, side and curtain – as well as electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control and brake assist all as standard.
While the Cruze CDX does have some premium spec appeal, the equipment upgrades don’t win me over. My money would be with the Cruze CD diesel. Nonetheless, the Cruze CDX diesel delivers a solid performance in a competitive segment. It will certainly hold its own when it comes to comfort, handling and overall drive experience.