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Car reviews - Holden - Cruze - Sportwagon

Our Opinion

We like
Styling, cargo practicality and space, affordability, spacious interior, attractive dash, diesel economy and performance, sharp handling
Room for improvement
1.8L Ecotec still off the pace in terms of performance and refinement, no 1.4T turbo option, no Watts link suspension option, firm ride on CDX wheels

3 Dec 2012

HOLDEN ought to be commended for even bothering to bring in a small-car wagon option.

Good looking, spacious and undoubtedly practical in a way that no hatch or sedan can match, the Sportwagon is a welcome alternative to the hordes of gormless SUVs plying our roads.

We wish Ford would do the same with the Focus wagon.

But why not go the whole hog with a 1.4-litre turbo four-pot petrol engine, Holden?

As it stands, the volume-selling 1.8-litre Ecotec unit is simply off the pace, with its lethargic mid-range acceleration and propensity to drone way. The six-speed automatic seems to suck the life out of it as well, leaving us wondering what it all could have been like.

And it isn’t just the extra oomph and refinement of the forced-induction small-capacity powerplant that is absent in the wagon, either.

In the 1.4iTi Hatch and Sedan, the Cruze gains a Watts link rear suspension system that provides a bit more dynamic prowess, as well as better suspension discipline – an issue that we encountered over a couple of uneven road surfaces in the CDX 1.8 Ecotec auto we sampled driving around Melbourne’s satellite towns.

Unfortunately, we missed out on a stint in the 2.0 Diesel variant, but that car’s $30K-plus on-roads price puts it within striking distance of some larger and more impressive competition – and it also sticks with the old hydraulic (rather than electric) steering and torsion beam rear end.

Oh well – the Cruze Sportwagon is meant to be an inexpensive workhorse first and foremost, and isn’t ever going to be a BMW 3 Series Touring competitor (despite its Sportwagon badge).

Among other things, the rear compartment’s various permutations make it a handy and versatile cargo carrier, while the general fit and finish seem exemplary.

But the Holden holdall is going up against the latest i30 Touring, which not only has more impressive and quieter drivetrains, but also a lower price tag (and a five-year warranty to boot).

It will make for an interesting Korean compact carryall comparison.

Even if the Sportwagon does come off second best in some areas, we are still glad that Holden is bothering in the first place.

We are eager to spend much more time in this attractive and appealing adjunct to the somewhat patchy Cruze range.

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