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Holden needs some cheering up, and the new Cruze is just the car to do it ...

20 May 2009

GM HOLDEN has plenty of healing to do over the next few years, but the JG Cruze small car is not the cynical Band-Aid application that the odorous JF Viva was. As good as that car was bad, the South Korean-built but German Opel-engineered Cruze is likely to impress with its class-leading value, safety, cabin design and standard specification. And while some rivals might be better in other ways, this Holden, incredibly, is often not too far behind. Sadly, it kills off the underrated AH Astra for now, and no hatch is forthcoming for the time being, but Australian small-car buyers now have yet another compelling option to consider, while Holden at last seems to have found at least one remedy for its slow sales blues.
Model release date: 1 May 2009 to 1 May 2011

Previous model

Holden JF Viva

Released: September 2005
Ended: May 2009
Family Tree: Cruze

ARGUABLY the worst new small car of its time, the JF Viva was actually a Daewoo J200 Lacetti, itself a rebodied version of the J100 Nubira sold successfully in Australia by the defunct Korean brand from 1997 to 2003 – and that car had roots in the 1980s GM J-car (Holden Camira, anybody?). So, against luminaries such as the Ford Focus and Honda Civic, the Viva didn’t stand a chance, and slow sales soon prompted Holden to price it in the light-car league. Three attractive body styles were offered – an Italian designed sedan, hatch and wagon – and all featured an 89kW/169Nm 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, driving the front wheels via a sticky five-speed manual or sluggish four-speed auto gearbox. Only reasonable sizing and sufficient safety spec – anti-lock brakes, dual front and side airbags – saved the unreliable JF Viva from being a no-star small car. Don’t do it anyway. The JG Cruze is as good as this car is rubbish.

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