Holden Cruze Road Test (CDX petrol/manual)
by Stephen Walker
1st March, 2010
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Sold around the world by various General Motors brands,
the new Holden Cruze is the auto giant's interpretation of a modern small car.
The new South Korean sourced car replaces both the Viva and Astra in Australia's over supplied small
car class, which continues to be increasingly competitive with regular new releases.
Interestingly, Holden will begin local manufacture of a new variant of the Cruze this year at their
factory in Elizabeth, South Australia.
The Holden Cruze has entered the market at a crucial time for the long established local brand, with
the Astra winding down its successful "career" locally (a new model Astra is on sale in Europe and the
The Holden Cruze is positioned right in the middle of small car territory. Competitors include the
Ford Focus, Hyundai i30, Kia Cerato, Mitsubishi Lancer, Suzuki SX4 and Toyota Corolla. Additionally,
there is also the higher priced Peugeot 308 and Volkswagen Golf.
Two models are available in the current Cruze line-up, the CD and the CDX. Both are available with
either a petrol engine or a diesel. Transmission choices are a 5 speed manual or a 4 speed automatic.
The test car was the top-of-the-line Holden Cruze CDX sedan, fitted with the standard 5 speed manual
transmission. We drove this car over 450 kilometres around Sydney, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle.
And from the useless information files, we can advise that the series code for this Cruze is "JG".
A five star safety rating was awarded to the Cruze by ANCAP, the local crash testing authority.
The engine is rated at 104 kW and 176 Nm of torque (at 6,200 rpm and 3,800 rpm respectively). Factory
figures rate the fuel usage as 7.0 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle.
For the ecological motorist, a CO2 rating of 179 gramme/kilometre is quite fair for this class of
Driving the new Holden Cruze is a breeze. It is a conventional car all the way through. It doesn't
disappoint nor excite the driver with the steering, ride, handling and braking all being rated as
average. Yet there is one obvious let down with the Holden Cruze. And that is the performance of the
petrol engine. Holden did well in not offering a 'sporty' version of the Cruze. That's because there is
nothing sporty about the Cruze whatsoever. In this respect, the Cruze is just like the Daewoo sourced
Viva. Even the Gemini from the distant past was sportier than the Cruze. Without harping on the subject,
it is best to describe the performance of the petrol Cruze as being best suited to those who have never
been in a hurry and those who will never be in a hurry.
The front seats are comfortable, side bolsters being part of the CDX equation. There is good headroom
and legroom upfront. However, the air conditioning seemed only just adequate for the 33 degree outside
Entry and egress into the back seat isn't as easy as it should be, in fact I rate this aspect as being
just adequate at best. Further, the back seat is fixed in a low position, making long trips uncomfortable
for tall passengers. There is room for 2 adult passengers in the back of this 5 seater car.
Inside the Holden Cruze, there is a handy 'hide-away' in the upper dash. The gauges are positioned in
front of the driver, right where they should be! The binnacle is almost retro styled (for better or
The big boot is bound to please those with lots of luggage.
Standard equipment with each Cruze model is electronic stability control (ESC), traction control
(TC), anti-lock brakes (ABS), brake assist (BA), electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), six airbags
(driver, front passenger, front side and curtain airbags), automatic headlamps, 6 speaker audio system
(with MP3 compatible in dash CD (single disc), radio and MP3 “plug & play” functionality), air
conditioning, steering wheel audio controls, cruise control, trip computer, power windows (front and rear).
The CDX model adds 17" alloy wheels (4), front fog lamps, leather steering wheel, leather trim, heated
front seats and rear park assist.
The Holden Cruze comes along at a time when Holden (and GM) cannot afford to make a mistake. Yet,
with the underwhelming 1.8 litre 4 cylinder petrol engine, the Cruze cannot be the car that today's
sophisticated buyers require to meet their motoring and lifestyle choices. Although, being a Holden, it
will find many a buyer simply because of the plentiful goodwill earned by many successful Holden
dealers around the country.
A new Holden Cruze with more power must become a priority for General Motors because the lack of
decent motive power is out of place in today's market.
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