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Driven: Holden’s Trax baby soft-roader weighs in

Leading the charge: Holden's Trax is a cheap small SUV at $23,490 plus on-roads.

Barina-based Trax plugs important showroom gap for Holden from $23,490

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13 Aug 2013

HOLDEN has launched its pitch at one of the fastest-growing market segments in Australia, launching the Barina-based Trax soft-roader with a richer equipment list than its city-focussed sibling.

The addition of the Korean-made Trax – priced from $23,490 before on-road costs – lifts Holden’s SUV count to four models, including the Captiva 5 and Captiva 7, and the utilitarian Colorado 7.

It also arrives ahead of a pack of would-be rivals in the burgeoning sub-compact crossover market, including the imminent Nissan Juke and Ford EcoSport both due by year’s end, and Euros such as the Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008 due next year.

The entry-level Trax will cost $2500 more than the most expensive Barina hatchback in the Holden line-up, although it will come with a bigger 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine borrowed from the Cruze and driving the front wheels rather than its city-based sibling’s 1.6-litre unit.

It produces 103kW at a high 6300rpm and a maximum of 175Nm of torque at 3800rpm – down 1kW and 1Nm on the Cruze’s outputs.

Significantly, though, the Trax is $5000 cheaper than the bigger-engined, strong selling Impreza-based Subaru XV, and $1500 cheaper than Nissan’s Dualis ST.

Fuel economy is a comparatively low 7.0 litres per 100 kilometres, but only when matched to the behind-the-game five-speed manual gearbox fitted to the entry-level petrol model. Subaru’s six-speed automatic XV beats the six-speed auto Trax’s 7.6L/100km fuel use by 0.1L/100km.

Holden will push the Trax’s value-for-money packaging to attract buyers into the car.

“Trax offers a great package at an exceptional price point and we believe it will pose an immediate challenge to established models when it arrives in Holden dealerships in September,” Holden executive director of sales and marketing Phil Brook said.

“None of the best-selling vehicles in this segment currently offer the same features for this price,” he said.

The Trax will sell across three variants starting with the $23,490 LS. It will include features such as a reversing camera – important given the limited rearward vision in higher-riding soft-roaders – and rear parking sensors, as well as the MyLink multimedia system that can stream music from the internet via a smartphone connection.

The Trax also becomes a mobile power station, fitting a 240-volt inverter to the rear of the centre console to allow owners to recharge laptops – or even use a hairdryer – on the run. It is the only vehicle other than Toyota’s LandCruiser Prado off-roader to do so.

As well as the plumped up looks, the entry-level Trax comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels and daytime running lights.

Inside, there is single-zone air-conditioning, a seven-inch colour touchscreen to run the multimedia system, an audio system that includes a Bluetooth phone connection and USB connectivity, dusk-sensing halogen headlights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, an analogue tachometer beside a digital speedo, and a black cloth interior.

Opting for the six-speed automatic over the six-speed manual adds $2200 to the price – $200 more than for the Barina.

The range-topping LTZ is priced from $27,990 and includes the automatic transmission as standard, big 18-inch alloy wheels, a different cloth trim along with heated front seats, front fog lamps, a trip computer and a pull-out storage tray under the front passenger seat.

The simple line-up is backed with a comprehensive accessories list running to an essentials pack that includes carpet mats, mud flaps, a cargo tray and a cargo net for $510.

A sports pack for the LTZ costs $1590 and adds different 18-inch wheel rims, and a black, silver or ornage “track stripes” package.

Metallic paint adds an extra $550, while a towbar kit that takes advantage of the Trax’s 1200kg braked towing capacity adds $830.

The off-road pretentions including the bigger engine add more than 100kg in weight to the Trax over its Barina sibling, giving a kerb weight of 1356kg for the manual version jumping up to 1371kg for the automatic versions.

As well as the reversing camera, safety runs to six airbags, a hill descent function that automatically brakes the Trax to maintain grip, and a hill hold function to stop it running backwards on a slope. The Trax was today awarded a top five-star crash rating in the latest round of Australasian New Car Assessment Program testing.

The car also comes with a pair of Isofix child seat fittings on the rear outboard seats in anticipation of the child-seat restraint system being introduced to Australia.

The Trax is on sale from September.

Holden Trax pricing before on-road costs:
LS $23,490
LS (a) $25,690
LTZ (a) $27,990

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