Featuring a 103kW/200Nm 1.4-litre engine familiar from the Barina RS and Cruze family, the new flagship Trax urban SUV complements the existing 12-month old LS and LTZ versions powered by the carryover 1.8-litre normally aspirated unit.
The sub-$30k price pitches the flagship (still front-drive) 1.4-litre LTZ at $1500 more than the carryover 1.8-litre LTZ auto variant that remains available at $28,490, and also above entry (less well-equipped) versions of larger SUVs such as the Mazda CX-5 (from $27,880) and Nissan X-Trail (from $27,990).
The 1.4 gets not only the new engine but also a sunroof.
As before, the Trax is also available in base LS guise powered by the 1.8-litre engine priced from $23,990 with a five-speed manual gearbox and $26,190 with the six-speed automatic.
The new automatic-only 1.4 variant of the Trax will broaden the car’s already growing popularity, according to Holden. The company has sold 3648 units this year so far, making it a key player of one of Australia’s fastest-growing segment, small SUVs. The Hyundai ix35 sits at the top of that segment in terms of sales, trailed by the Subaru XV.
While Holden has so far sold the Trax predominately to older buyers, so-called ‘empty nesters’, the company is confident the turbo version will skew younger and thereby add incremental sales to the bottom line.
Over the life of the car so far, 40 per cent of Trax sales have been the flagship 1.8 LTZ, but with the addition of the 1.4, expect this ratio to grow further.
Holden says it did not launch the smaller turbo engine at first because of the price-sensitive nature of the market. The company also says the 1.8-litre will remain the most popular choice, with the 1.4-litre to make up somewhere between 10-15 per cent of total sales.
For background, the small SUV segment in which the Trax plays has grown from seven entrants and 26,000 sales in 2010 to 18 entrants and a figure on track to be 80,000 by year’s end. In 2014 alone, sales in this part of the market are up 17 per cent compared to an overall market decline of 2.4 per cent.
The 1.4-litre engine in the new flagship LTZ produces its 200Nm of torque between 1850rpm and 4900rpm. It is matched only to a six-speed automatic transmission. Holden claims fuel economy on the combined cycle of 6.9L/100km.
This compares to 103kW/175Nm for the 1.8 atmo version, which consumes 7.0L/100km with a manual gearbox and 7.6L/100km with an auto. However, despite the similar outputs, the 1.4 has a much broader torque band and significantly more ‘grunt’lower in the rev range.
Holden sources all Trax models from South Korea, though 25 Australian-based engineers calibrated the MY14 model’s ride and handling for local roads. This MY15 model is unchanged, and the 1.4’s tune is the same as the 1.8.
Both engine variants get modified suspension mounts at the back to nullify road noise, while the electric steering has been sharpened on centre.
In a good news story for the local industry, Holden’s local team have developed the Trax’s suspension and steering tune for 20 worldwide markets.
LS versions of the Trax come equipped with standard features including six airbags, 16-inch alloy wheels, rear-view camera, rear parking sensors, ISOFIX child-seat anchors, a MyLink infotainment system with seven-inch touchscreen, embedded Pandora, Stitcher and BringGo apps, iPhone Siri Eyes Free Mode, Bluetooth/USB, a leather steering wheel with audio controls and automatic headlights.
The LTZ gets over and above this 18-inch alloys, rain-sensing wipers, driver arm-rest, sunroof (only on 1.4), heated front seats, front fog-lights, a trip computer and a storage tray under the front passenger seat.
Trax models come with a five-year/130,000km warranty and three-years/60,000km capped price servicing, with each service costing $185.
As before, the Barina-based Trax is 4278mm long, 1776mm wide and 1674mm tall on a 2555mm wheelbase. With the seats up there is a decent 356 litres of cargo space, increasing to 1370L with the seats folded. Turning circle is 10.9m and the towing capacity is 1200kg braked.
Holden Trax pricing (plus on-road costs):
LS 1.8-litre manual $23,990
LS 1.8-litre auto $26,190
LTZ 1.8 litre auto $28,490
LTZ 1.4 litre iTi auto $29,990