Car reviews - Holden - Cruze - hatch
9 Nov 2011
THE small car that could end the Commodore’s reign as Holden’s best-selling model has been launched.
Holden has introduced the Australian-made Cruze hatch, which appears likely to boost Cruze sales by enough to ensure it becomes the top-selling model for the brand and possibly Australia’s most popular car next year.
Holden has effectively been fighting with one hand behind its back without a hatch in the small-car segment, where lift-back versions generally sell better than sedans.
Even so, the Cruze sedan has managed to close in on Commodore, with VFACTS figures showing it is just 6387 sales behind to the end of October.
As anticipated, the new Cruze hatch will carry the same pricing as the equivalent sedan, starting with the $21,240 CD, and will be made available in all four specification levels through to the range-topping SRi-V.
While the Cruze sedan was shaped by GM Korea, the new hatch version was penned by Australia’s Holden design team in Port Melbourne.
Holden engineers have also had input into the vehicle, which is made at several GM plants around the world, improving its refinement and handling with modifications that have been adopted by the other markets.
GM Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux said the Cruze sedan was already a “huge success” after just two years in the market and added the new model should also prove popular with customers who prefer a hatchback.
“With the addition of the Cruze hatch we can now offer small-car buyers a stylish and sporty homegrown alternative,” he said.
The hatch, which will be available only as a five-door, has a cargo area of 413 litres, which expands to 1254 litres when the 60/40-split folding rear seats are laid down.
When fitted with a full-size steel spare, which is a no-cost option, the boot space is reduced to 325 litres. However, Holden engineers have made use of the space surrounding the larger spare wheel, with storage spots that can be used for wet items.
Holden originally sourced the Cruze sedan from South Korea, but began producing it in Australia in March this year. Around 70 per cent of that vehicle was imported, but Holden said it is now sourcing more components locally, including the seats and the glass for the rear hatch.
Production of the hatch started at Holden’s Elizabeth plant in South Australia late last month ahead of this week’s national launch.
There are three engine choices for Cruze hatch buyers, with one diesel and two petrol units.
The 1.8-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol kicks off the range in CD guise for $21,240 and is also available with the CDX at $24,740.
It produces 104kW of power and 176Nm of torque, is available with a six-speed manual as standard or a six-speed automatic for an additional $2000, and returns average fuel economy of 7.0 litres per 100km for the manual and 7.4L/100km for the auto.
A 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder is available in CD guise for $25,240 and as a CDX for $28,740, with the same transmission choices.
It generates 120kW and 360Nm and is currently the most efficient Australian-made vehicle available with a fuel consumption rating of 5.6L/100km with the manual. The auto version returns 6.4L/100km. (The larger Toyota Camry Hybrid comes in at 6.0L/100km.)
An advanced 1.4-litre iTi turbocharged petrol four-cylinder, with direct fuel injection and producing 103kW/200Nm, is also available in CD form for $22,490, in SRi for $24,990 and SRi-V for $28,490.
As is the case with the sedan, the Cruze is built off General Motors’ Delta II platform and is produced with two different rear suspension architectures and steering assistance systems, depending on the engine chosen, which adds considerable complexity on the assembly line.
The 1.8-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel models use hydraulic-assisted steering and a simple torsion beam rear suspension, while the 1.4-litre turbo-petrol models feature an electrically assisted steering system and a more advanced Watts link rear suspension set-up designed with sportier driving in mind.
All Cruze models have a MacPherson strut suspension arrangement at the front.
Holden engineers altered the suspension tune on both the locally made sedan and the new hatch to improve ride quality and refinement. They also tweaked the automatic transmission used with the 1.4-litre turbo iTi engine and the new calibration has been picked up by overseas markets.
The Cruze hatch is 79mm shorter than the sedan at 4518mm, but is the same height (1477mm) and width (1797mm). It rides on the same 2685mm wheelbase.
The extra bracing required for the hatch section means the Cruze hatch weighs an average of 14kg more than the sedan, ranging from 1387kg to 1578kg.
Holden has fitted all Cruze models with electronic stability control and six airbags, while the hatch has been granted a five-star ANCAP crash test rating, in line with the sedan.
All five seats are fitted with adjustable headrests, with the front positions benefiting further from anti-whiplash head restraints and seatbelt pretensioners.
Standard equipment includes Bluetooth phone connectivity, air-conditioning, cruise control, a trip computer, electric windows front and rear, automatic headlights, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, and USB and iPod audio inputs.
Stepping up to the CDX model adds front foglights, part-leather seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear parking sensors, heated seats, exterior chrome dressing and 17-inch alloys in place of the base CD model’s 16-inch steel wheels.
The SRi also comes with a bodykit including a rear spoiler, different 17-inch alloys and sports seats while the SRi-V adds keyless entry/start, a seven-inch touchscreen information display with satellite-navigation, a premium sound system with a 10Gb hard drive, and voice recognition control for radio and navigation features.
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