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Driven: Holden pumps up Trax line-up

Trax record: Holden’s Barina-based Trax now comes with a choice of two four-cylinder engines – a 1.4 and 1.8, both offering 103kW of power.

Trax gains Holden’s sprightly 1.4-litre turbo in new LTZ from $29,990 plus ORCs


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14 Aug 2014

HOLDEN has slipped its torquey and fuel-efficient 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine under the bonnet of its Trax light SUV in a 2015 model-year update, creating a new flagship for its smallest crossover.

The engine already serves in a number of other Holden models, including the Cruze Equipe and Barina RS warm hatch.

Holden will continue to offer the 1.8-litre unit in base LS and up-spec LTZ specification, but the smaller turbo-powered four-cylinder unit is available in range-topping LTZ guise matched exclusively with a six-speed auto from $29,990 plus on-road costs.

This is a $1500 premium over the 1.8-litre LTZ, but Holden says this is more than justified by the high-tech turbo engine and the inclusion of a sunroof as standard.

Pricing stays at $23,990 for the LS manual, with a $2200 premium for the optional six-speed automatic, while the 1.8-litre LTZ – in automatic only – is priced from $28,490.

Prices are up $500 on the launch price a year ago, but Holden says the boost happened earlier and is not part of the model year update.

Power figures for the two engines are similar, with the 1.8L punching out 103kW and 175Nm, while the 1.4L unit produces 103kW and 200Nm, which is identical to the outputs of the Barina RS and Cruze.

The blown 1.4L offers an official combined fuel reading of 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres, which is a 9.2 per cent improvement on the 1.8L unit’s fuel consumption figure of 7.6L/100km when matched with the auto.

Ford's 82kW/140Nm 1.5-litre EcoSport auto consumes 6.5L/100km, while Nissan's 86kW/158Nm 1.6-litre Juke CVT records 6.3L/100km.

Holden says that the “spirited” 1.4L engine features a flat torque curve, peaking from 1850rpm to 4900rpm. Like the rest of the Trax range that lobbed this time last year, the 1.4L version has undergone a local tuning program to ensure it is suited to Australian roads.

Holden vehicle development manager Jeremy Tassone said local engineers had worked hard to ensure that the new Trax variant matched the capabilities of the rest of the range.

“The 1.4-litre turbocharged engine provides drivers with even greater levels of refinement and performance, and when combined with the locally tuned chassis and steering, makes for a really fun and enjoyable drive,” he said.

“Holden’s talented engineers have done a fantastic job to ensure that the new 1.4 litre Trax LTZ has been designed to suit Australian driver preferences.

Their hard work has really paid off.”

Since the Trax launched last year, it has consistently sold an average of 400-500 units a month, with June this year marking a new high in the Barina-based crossover’s short life with a haul of 715 units.

So far this year, Holden has recorded 3648 Trax sales for a market share of 7.8 per cent in the increasingly busy small SUV under $40,000 segment.

While the South Korean-built SUV is well behind the heavy hitters in the segment, notably the larger Hyundai ix35 on 10,506 sales, the Subaru XV (6565) and the recently replaced Nissan Dualis (now Qashqai) on 6064, it is well ahead of other sub-compact models such as Ford’s Fiesta-based EcoSport (1031), the Nissan Juke (1455) and Suzuki’s S-Cross (1083).

Holden said at the launch in Melbourne this week that the sales split for Trax was skewed towards the LS, with 60 per cent of buyers opting for the base variant, while 30 per cent pick the more generously specified LTZ.

The new 1.4L LTZ variant is expected to make up between 10 and 15 per cent of overall Trax sales.

GM Holden sales director Peter Keley told GoAuto the company was not expecting a major sales boost with the introduction of the 1.4L LTZ, but that the launch of the 2015 model would ensure renewed interest.

“I think it’s a booming segment,” he said. “There are lots of new competitors coming in. The 1.4-litre engine gives us a chance to have another campaign around Trax which then increases its awareness.”

Mr Keley said Holden was pleased with the reaction to the Trax since its launch last year, and it highlighted the city runabout as a key model in the company’s SUV line-up.

“We have our forecasts, we have been hitting our forecasts,” he said. “The whole thing about this segment and all SUV segments is that there are lots of new entrants, lots of new brand names.

“We are very pleased with eight per cent market share, being a brand new name.

Holden hasn’t been a strength in SUVs probably in the past. We are getting that portfolio now. It is a step to continue to build off.” In base LS guise, standard fare includes air-conditioning, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, Holden’s MyLink infotainment system – with a seven-inch colour touch-screen and access to music and navigation apps such as Pandora, TuneIn, Stitcher and BringGo – Siri Eyes Free mode, Bluetooth phone and audio, USB and iPod jack, automatic headlights, black cloth trim, leather steering wheel with audio controls and 16-inch alloys.

While no mechanical changes have been made to the existing line-up, the LTZ picks up new 18-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers and a driver’s arm rest as standard, with the 1.4L version offering a sunroof.

This is on top of the already standard black Sportec trim, front fog-lights, a trip computer, a storage tray under the front seat and heated front seats in the LTZ.

Holden has also added a new Blaze Red hue to the colour palette.

The five-star ANCAP rated Trax features six airbags, hill start assist, ESC, ABS and traction control and a descent control system.

2014 Holden Trax pricing*
LS 1.8L$23,990
LS 1.8L (a)$26,190
LTZ 1.8L (a)$28,490
LTZ 1.4L iTi (a)$29,990
*Excludes on-road costs.

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