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Car reviews - Holden - Cruze - sedan range

Launch Story

Holden logo20 May 2009

By CHRIS HARRIS

HOLDEN’S new-generation small car is playing the value game against competitors such as the hot-selling Toyota Corolla and Mazda3.

Priced from $20,990 plus on-road costs for the base Cruze CD petrol manual, and $2000 more for the automatic version, the Korean-built, Opel-engineered four-door sedan will out-equip – rather than undercut – its key rivals when sales start in the middle of June.

The Cruze will replace the Belgian-built AH Astra hatch – which has fallen victim to an unfavourable exchange rate out of Europe – and the Daewoo Lacetti-based JF Viva range, leaving Holden with no C-segment small hatchback until the Australian-designed and built Cruze hatch appears in the latter part of 2010.

Six airbags, electronic stability control (ESC), ABS brakes, electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), traction control and collapsible pedals help all models to achieve an ANCAP five-star safety rating, while cruise control and steering-wheel mounted audio and cruise controls are included on every vehicle.

The automatic is a six-speed type, and is available in lieu of the standard five-speed manual gearbox, making the Cruze the only sedan in its class to offer six forward ratios. Key competitors – namely the Corolla, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra – only offer a four-speed auto.

Two engines choices are on offer from launch, with the volume seller expected to be GM’s familiar but revised 1.8-litre twin-cam 16-valve Family-1 ECOTEC four-cylinder petrol unit.

Now in ‘GEN III’ guise, it develops 104kW of power and 176Nm of torque – with 90 per cent the latter occurring from 2200-6200rpm, thanks to continuously variable valve timing that employs a compact hydraulic vane type phaser “to flatten out the torque curve”, according to Holden.

More torque is available via GM/VM Motori’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine familiar to owners of the Holden Captiva SUV and Epica sedan.

Adding $3000 to the price, it uses common-rail fuel injection and an electronically controlled variable geometry turbocharger with intercooler. Power and torque are rated at 110kW and 320Nm respectively, with 90 per cent of the latter available from 1750-3500rpm.

A diesel particulate filter enables the diesel achieve a Euro IV emissions rating, and Holden will leverage this model’s green credentials under its EcoLine sub-brand. The diesel engine is only available in CD spec.

Fuel consumption ratings are 7.0L/100km for the 1.8 petrol manual (1.8 petrol auto: 7.5L/100km), while the 2.0 diesel manual returns 5.7L/100km (2.0 diesel auto: 6.8L/100km).

Using General Motors’ Delta II front-wheel-drive small-car platform, the Cruze was developed globally over a 27-month period at a cost of $US4 billion ($A5.3 billion). GM built 221 prototypes during that time, with testing done in Australia, the US, Sweden, Canada, the UK, South Korea and China.

Suspension is by MacPherson-type struts at the front and what GM Holden calls a compound crank rear axle (a solid torsion beam item), which means that the Cruze avoids the costly multi-link designs found beneath the Focus and Mazda3, among other rivals.

Also conventional is the employment of a hydraulically powered rack-and-pinion steering system (allowing for a 10.9-metre turning circle), and ventilated front disc brakes with single 60mm piston steel callipers and, at the rear, solid discs with single 38mm piston steel callipers.

To quell noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, GM engineers have employed an isolated four-mount engine cradle and made extensive use of damping material in areas such as the front-of-dash panel, boot, deck-lid inner, doors, carpet and headlining (rare in a cheap small car, Holden says). A triple-layered sealing system in the doors has also been exercised.

GM’s ‘GM LAN Serial Data Electrical Architecture’ connects all modules in the car like a telephone line, handling critical control systems.

Dimensionally, the Cruze sedan is a large small car for its class, measuring 4597mm long, 1788mm wide and 1477mm high, with a wheelbase of 2685mm, front track of 1544mm and rear track of 1558mm. This puts it about on par with the generation-before-last Holden JR/JS Vectra (1997-2002).

In contrast, one of Australia’s favourite small cars – the Mazda3 sedan – is smaller, at 4580mm long, 1755mm wide and 1470mm high, with a 2640mm wheelbase, 1535mm front track and 1520mm rear track.

Thus, the Cruze’s class-conventional transverse engine front-wheel drive layout helps pays space dividends inside, with shoulder room coming in at 1391mm up front and 1370mm out back, while rear legroom is 917mm.

Holden claims the Cruze was conceived to have contemporary and sophisticated styling, a refined cabin, and high-quality interior fittings. The 400-litre boot is aided by a split/fold rear seat.

Standard features include all the aforementioned safety gear, along with items like air-conditioning, power windows, remote central locking, cruise control, auto-on headlights, a six-speaker CD/MP3 audio, trip computer, heated exterior mirrors, body-coloured doorhandles and mirrors, and 16-inch steel wheels.

In the $23,990, petrol-only CDX, leather upholstery, heated front seats, rear parking sensors, front foglights and 17-inch alloy wheels are standard.

While all petrol Cruzes come with a 16-inch steel spare wheel, Holden says that the diesel has a lightweight tyre inflator kit to help conserve fuel, although a full-size spare is available at no extra cost.

Towing capacity is rated at 1200kg with a braked trailer and 695kg unbraked (diesel: 750kg unbraked).

Servicing is at every 15,000km/12-month intervals after the initial 3000km no-cost inspection, and coolant change intervals are every five years.

GM Holden executive director of sales, marketing and aftersales Alan Batey said extensive research showed little recall and no negativity associated with the Suzuki Ignis-based YG Cruze sold here successfully as Holden’s quasi baby SUV between 2001 and 2005.

It is launching the Cruze with the advertising tagline: “The small car just got serious.”

“This is more than just a new-car launch for Holden – Cruze represents Holden’s renewed commitment to the small-car market and the beginning of a new era for the company,” Holden said. “It will play a significant role in our future and presents us with a new-generation car, a new design and a new way of thinking.”

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