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American Cruze packs in performance, safety

American cousin: The Chevrolet Cruze provides a glimpse of the Holden-made version to be built at Elizabeth from next year.

US production Cruze emerges with 1.4 turbo, Watts link suspension and 10 airbags

30 Nov 2009

GENERAL Motors has unveiled the US production version of the Cruze small sedan ahead of its debut at this week’s Los Angeles auto show, providing several details that are relevant to the Australian-built version – and the Aussie-designed global hatchback – that will roll off the line together at Holden’s Elizabeth plant in South Australia in 2010.

Of particular interest is the confirmation that GM will fit 10 airbags as standard to the US Chevrolet version – rear-seat side airbags and front knee airbags adding to the six airbags on the current Australian models – and the first Cruze-specific application of GM’s new 1.4-litre turbocharged engine, which is certain to appear on the Australian-built version.

The US version has also emerged with the more sophisticated Watts Z-link rear suspension used on the European Opel/Vauxhall Astra. This feature has been expected on the hatchback, but could be transferred to the sedan as well when Australian production commences in the third quarter of 2010 – around the same time the Ohio-built North American versions also kick off.

In US spec, the 1364cc 16-valve DOHC VVT four-cylinder Ecotec turbo produces 103kW at 4900rpm and 200Nm at 1850rpm – provisional figures that show the unit offers around the same power but more torque than the naturally aspirated 104kW/176Nm 1.8-litre version in service in the current (imported) Holden-badged sedan.

137 center imageAccording to GM, the 1.4 turbo “performs like a larger engine when needed, but retains the efficiency of a small-displacement four-cylinder in most driving conditions” – with a claimed cruising range of more than 800km and “segment-leading” fuel economy.

Specific performance and mileage figures are still to be provided for the engine, which works in concert with either a ‘M32’ close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox or a ‘Hydra-Matic 6T40’ six-speed automatic.

There was no mention of direct injection, which Holden said would be considered for the Australian-built small car’s petrol and diesel engines, along with a range of alternative fuel or fuel saving technologies including E85, LPG, CNG and start-stop hybrid capability.

Holden is still to reveal if the Australian-built Cruze models will up the ante to 10 airbags and offer other equipment and technical adjustments that will feature on US versions, such as 18-inch wheels and electric power steering.

Holden spokeswoman Kate Lonsdale told GoAuto: “We haven't confirmed specs and features of the locally produced small car and won't do so until closer to its launch."However, GM Holden chairman and managing director Alan Batey recently acknowledged that the Adelaide-built versions would increase in specification from the current South Korean-built sedan.

“I can tell you the specifications on the local vehicle are going to be another step up,” he said.

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