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Melbourne show: Holden comes clean on Cruze

Early bird: An imported version of the Holden Cruze will be launched in the second quarter of this year.

All-new Cruze emerges as Holden’s headline act at the 2009 Melbourne motor show

27 Feb 2009

GM HOLDEN has revealed the final production version of its lion-badged Cruze small sedan, along with engine and equipment details, before it goes on sale earlier than expected in the second quarter of 2009.

The surprise unveiling at this morning’s 2009 Melbourne International Motor Show opening was the highlight of a subdued, new-product-led presentation by Holden, which departed from tradition by having no glittering motor show concept to display.

But the confirmed imminent arrival of the South Korean-sourced JG-series Cruze sedan, which will be an eventual replacement for the Daewoo-built Viva small-car range and available with both four-cylinder petrol and diesel power, raises more questions than answers.

Holden late last year confirmed it will manufacture a small car at its Elizabeth plant outside Adelaide from 2010, based on the same ‘Delta’ small-car platform that underpins the Cruze and the yet-to-emerge next-generation Astra which, apart from an entirely different new bodyshell, is expected to feature a more sophisticated (and more expensive) independent rear suspension system.

13 center imageLeft:The new Holden Cruze and (at bottom) the design sketch of the small car Holden plans to build.

However, Holden will not divulge further details about its second locally produced vehicle line (to be built alongside the Commodore) until later this year. Indeed, it is treating the Cruze sedan as a “standalone” model release without reference to either the Viva or next year’s Australian-made small car, the nameplate for which is yet to be revealed.

Logically, then, the Cruze sedan to be launched here by mid-year will at least replace the Viva sedan before being joined by hatch (and perhaps even wagon) bodystyle derivatives, production of which will then switch to Australia within 18 months.

Alternatively, Holden could continue to source the Cruze model range from Korea beyond next year, when it may produce an Australian-made version of the next-generation Astra, which would continue to be positioned as a more expensive small car proposition from Holden.

The artist’s sketch Holden revealed in December when it confirmed Australian small-car production from 2010 looks completely unlike the production Cruze, which lends weight to the latter scenario.

Last year Holden sold just 5927 examples of the Viva (down 20 per cent on 2007 sales), which is priced from $18,790 in both sedan and hatch guise.

The current (European-built) Astra range is priced from $22,290 as a hatch and found 14,926 Australian buyers in 2008 (down 17 per cent).

“The small-car market is the fastest-growing segment in the Australian market and this is our response to that change,” said GM Holden chairman and managing director Mark Reuss today. “Cruze will play a significant role in Australia’s future and presents us with a new-generation car, a new design and a new way of thinking.

“It is a world-class small car that has the perfect blend of both style and substance, all from the base model to the top of the range.” Apart from a different front bumper/grille treatment, which incorporates a large Holden Lion badge, the Holden Cruze revealed today appears identical to the Cruze sedan range that will be revealed by Chevrolet at the Geneva motor show next week.

While the GM Delta platform’s engineering ‘homeroom’ is located in Russelsheim in Germany and the Cruze’s chassis architecture also had input from GM teams in the US and Australia, its exterior design was led by former Fiat 500 designer Taewan Kim at GM Daewoo in Korea with assistance from GM Holden’s Max Wolff.

Holden today confirmed Australia’s Cruze will be offered in both entry-level CD and CDX variants, echoing the Astra line-up, powered as standard by a 1.8-litre ‘Ecotec’ four-cylinder petrol engine that will be available with either a five-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic with ‘Active Select’ manual-shift mode.

The base CD and will also be available with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder common-rail turbo-diesel engine, a model that will form part of Holden’s ‘EcoLine’ range.

The first full showing of the Cruze interior reveals that its cabin is also far more stylish, upmarket and contemporary than the Viva’s. To that end, Holden claims the Cruze “boasts one of the most advanced interiors of any small car on the market, offering exceptional quality and functionality, while delivering sportiness and luxurious comfort”.

Its dual-cockpit design houses an integrated centre stack incorporating HVAC and radio controls, plus an infotainment display that features an integrated centre panel with graphic information display.

Unlike the Commodore, Cruze amenities extend to a 60/40-split folding rear seatback, plus front seatback pockets, centre console CD storage, six cup-holders and a shopping bag hook.

An extensive standard safety list is said to make the Cruze among the safest models in the small-car class and includes electronic stability control (ESC) with traction control (TC), an anti-lock braking system (ABS) with brake assist (BA) and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), six airbags including twin front, front-side and side curtain airbags and seatbelt load-limiters. Holden says 65 per cent of the Cruze’s body structure is made from high-strength steel.

The entry-level Cruze CD sedan will come standard with 16-inch steel wheels, body-coloured doorhandles and mirrors, automatic headlights, a six-speaker single-CD sound system with MP3 compatibility, remote steering wheel controls, power mirrors and power (front/rear) windows.

The flagship Cruze CDX adds four 17-inch alloy wheels, a leather-clad steering wheel, ‘leather-appointed’ seats and front seat heating.

Also revealed alongside three CDX-specification Cruze models in Melbourne today were two special-edition Commodore ‘International’ variants, which enter production in both sedan and Sportwagon guises from mid-March.

Extras include 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a six-CD stacker, a ‘leather-appointed’ steering wheel and seat trim, Bluetooth phone connectivity and rear parking sensors (sedan only).

The Commodore International sedan will be available with dual-fuel LPG power, adding another model to Holden’s EcoLine range that also includes the LPG Commodore and Ute, and the AFM-equipped Berlina, Calais, SS, Statesman and Caprice V8.

The Commodore International auto sedan is priced at $33,990 driveaway, slashing at least $4300 from the price of the VE Commodore Omega auto sedan ($38,290 plus on-road costs).

The Sportwagon International auto is priced $2000 higher at $35,990 driveaway – $3800 less than the Sportwagon Omega auto ($39,790 plus on-road costs).

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