Cruze confirms it’s more than just good looks
The Cruze was introduced in 2009 as a Korean built sedan tailored for GM’s international markets. Two years later, Holden began Cruze production in Australia and in 2012 the first hatchback arrived, with a Korean sourced wagon completing the range at the end of the year.
The 2014 model year Cruze has arrived and visually the three new colour choices are all that separate it from the outgoing model. But it’s under the skin where Holden engineers worked for 18 months to fine tune the suspension settings and calibrate the new second generation automatic transmission to better suite local conditions. To improve performance another European sourced force-induction petrol engine has been added to the line up as well.
The feature that impressed us back in 2011 was the introduction of live radio pausing, as well as the 10GB storage space for uploading music, but for the new model it has been replaced with Holden’s new Mylink infotainment system. Mylink was first introduced at the end of last year with the Barina CDX and it’s now standard across the latest Cruze range. The seven-inch touch screen display has internet music station Pandora and podcast radio station Stitcher applications embedded into it. The apps can be accessed using a Bluetooth or a USB connection from a mobile phone or other electronic device that has 3G data streaming. Holden will be introducing Satellite navigation to SRi-V models by mid-year.
Pandora makes it easy to play your favourite music. All you need to do is enter the names of bands and songs you enjoy listening to and it sifts through its massive database for suitable songs you might enjoy and broadcasts it through the radio. If a song isn't up to scratch you simply select “dislike” (thumbs down) and the song will be skipped. Otherwise choose “like” (thumbs up) and it considers the selection for future playlists. Stitcher has current news on politics, comedy, business and technology although it isn’t local content.
The Cruze is available in four specification levels and there is no shortage of engine choice either
The turbocharged 1.4L and 1.6L petrol engines are the livelier options in the line up. The 1.4L motor has a useful 103kW/200Nm and is available in CDX specification, but keen drivers will prefer the punchy new 1.6L 132kW/230Nm powerplant fitted to the top of the range SRi-V and SRi hatchback. The 1.6L is fitted with either the six-speed manual or automatic transmission while the 1.4L is only available with an auto.
The steering is electrically assisted while the rest of the Cruze range continues with the traditional hydraulic assistance. Fuel consumption is claimed at 6.8L/100km for the 1.4L while the 1.6L auto is rated at 7.9L/100km and 7.4L/100km with the manual gearbox.
The 2.0L diesel auto has plenty torque on offer, producing 120kW/360Nm, while using fuel at a rate of 6.7L/100km. The 1.8L petrol motor has 104kW/175Nm and feels rather underwhelming and isn't helped by the missing sixth gear in the manual gearbox. Fuel consumption is claimed to be 7.4L/100km for the auto and 7.0L/100km with the five-speed stick shifter.
The six-speed auto gearbox fitted to petrol models has been tweaked for improved shift quality, a quicker gear change and includes Active Select which allows the driver to manually shift the cogs up or down using the gear lever. The SRi and SRi-V models benefit from the new sports function which optimizes throttle response and when a demanding driving style is detected the Performance Mode Lift Foot (PMLF) feature downshifts a gear to allow the driver to quickly accelerate out of corners.
The Cruze offers impressive ride comfort across the range with all but the Sri-V having 17 inch alloys. The sports-tune suspension setup on 1.6L versions makes for great handling on twisty roads, without the need for wearing a kidney belt and the sticky Bridgestone 18 inch tyres on the Sri-V ensure great grip.
Active safety features include Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), Brake Assist (BA) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD). Cruze is awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating and passive safety features include six airbags.
Pricing starts with the entry level Equipe 1.8L manual at $29,400, with the auto commanding a $1,500 premium at $30,900. The 1.4L is priced at $32,900 while the 2.0L diesel retails for $35,900. The 1.8L CDX sedan auto has a sticker price of $33,500 and the 1.6L SRi is $34,900 and $36,400 for manual and auto respectively..The top of the range SRi-V manual is priced at $37,900 and the auto adds $1,500 to the price.