Car reviews - Holden - Trax - LTZ 1.4 turbo
Sweet 1.4-litre turbocharged engine, more composed than 1.8, handsome looks, interior space
Room for improvement
Super flat seats, engine still noisy when pushed
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14 Nov 2014
THESE days, any car company worth its salt offers a tiny crossover vehicle, often based on a light-car platform.
Holden's handsome Trax is one of these, and the Barina-based runabout has given General Motors' local division something of a little hero in the small SUV sales race.
Since Trax lobbed, Ford has introduced its Fiesta-based EcoSport, Suzuki offered the unusual looking S-Cross, and Nissan Australia finally brought the British-built Juke to Australia after holding out for about two years.
And it's about to get harder for Holden, with the Renault Captur and Honda HR-V arriving in the next six months.
However, Holden has strengthened its Trax line-up by adding a new turbocharged engine variant in range-topping LTZ guise from $29,990, plus on-road costs.
While this is not cheap for a sub-compact SUV, it still comes in under a couple of its rival's range-toppers, including the Nissan Juke Ti-S AWD ($32,490) and the Mitsubishi ASX XLS ($31,490).
But it is more expensive than any EcoSport variant, or the two-wheel drive Skoda Yeti Ambition 90TSI ($28,290) and the Peugeot 2008 Allure ($27,990).
The 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine is the same sweet unit found under the bonnet of the Barina RS warm hatch and the Cruze Equipe, and it produces the same 103kW/200Nm output as those models.
The new variant becomes the flagship and sits above the already available base LS which starts from $23,990 and the LTZ at $28,490 that are powered by the 1.8-litre four-cylinder normally aspirated petrol engine.
Aside from the new engine choice, the only other difference to what is technically a model-year 2015 update is the inclusion of rain-sensing wipers, a driver's arm rest, new 18-inch alloy wheels and with the 1.4-litre LTZ, a sunroof.
For $29,990, you also get heated front seats, front fog-lights, jet black Sportec trim, Bluetooth, a USB jack, Siri Eyes Free, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, hill-start assist, six airbags, a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating and 18-inch alloys as standard.
But the main change is of course the new engine. Its refinement is immediately noticeable compared with the 1.8L, particularly when pushed.
The larger capacity engine, which produces the same 103kW of power but a lower 175Nm of torque, can be rowdy when pushed, and while the 1.4L is not exactly hushed in hard acceleration, it is significantly quieter.
From take-off there is no hint of turbo lag, and once up and running, the Holden's neat little engine kicks into gear thanks to a flat torque curve that hits its peak at 1850rpm and can stay there to 4900rpm.
The Trax is a little top heavy in corners but not uncomfortably so, and it handles tight bends as well as you would expect for a high-riding front-wheel drive crossover.
The Trax maintains its composure over most surfaces, only skipping slightly over looser unsealed roads.
Holden put the latest addition to the Trax range through the same localisation program as the 1.8L launched last year.
The six-speed automatic transmission is also used in the 1.8L and our brief drive through Victoria's Yarra Valley proved the unit to be smooth and precise with no hunting around for gears, even when pushed on an incline.
Holden's official combined fuel consumption figure for the 1.4L LTZ is 6.9 litres per 100km, and after a day of driving in varied conditions we managed a respectable 7.3L.
While driving around, we noticed that that the driver's seat was a little flat and could have done with more lumbar support, but the faux leather trim with the aqua stitching was a nice touch and added some colour to the cabin.
The rear bench is super flat and lacks support, but headroom is plentiful and a decent amount of legroom keeps rear-seat occupants happy. They can even charge their tablet or phone via an outlet at the rear of the centre console.
Boot space in the Trax is 365 litres which is comparable with some rivals like the EcoSport (346L), but it can't match others such as the S-Cross (430L) and the 2008 (410L).
We found it to be more than adequate. A full-sized spare wheel hides under the floor of the boot too.
Back up front, the Trax features a number of little storage nooks in the dash itself as well as in the usual hiding spots.
The dash is clean and we like the look of the seven-inch touch-screen housing Holden's MyLink connectivity system that is a cinch to use, as well as the reversing camera display, that is standard across the range.
The leather-clad steering wheel adds a premium touch to the cabin, but that is undone with the hard plastic inserts on the doors.
Overall, the cabin of the Trax is a nice place to spend a few hours.
We already knew Holden was on to a winner when it launched the Trax last year, and sales figures show it has won a number of fans. The addition of the 1.4-litre engine gives it that extra zing that was missing from the 1.8.
It is well packaged, offers a solid standard features list and up-to-date connectivity and in our opinion, she's a bit of a looker, but the engine is the star of the show.
While it may cost $1500 more than the 1.8, we think this is by far the pick of the bunch in the Trax line-up and one of the better drives in the burgeoning light SUV segment.
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