Holden Cruze SRi road test review
SOCRATES once said "The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but building the new". That's the philosophy of Holden as the brand enters a new era.
If the lion badge could be reconfigured, it would be reshaped with a hipster beard wearing a slim-fit blue suit and slicked back hair.
Much has been debated about the past, and the closure of local manufacturing post-2017, but Holden is now focused on exciting times ahead with 24 major vehicles to be launched over the next five years.
The Cruze is somewhat of a reminder of Holden's halcyon days. Early days had it a dominant player in the small car market, and while still popular, it's often overshadowed by the big numbers being pulled by the Hyundai i30/Elantra, Toyota Corolla and Mazda3.
Yet this SRi should remain high on the consideration list for those looking for a small sedan. The retail price is just above $23,000, but Holden has been doing some pretty engaging deals of late with free servicing and drive-away offers good enough to drag a latte-sipping hipster's attention away from his iPhone.
Spacious, with real estate to accommodate four adults, the Cruze hovers close to mid-size territory.
While the rear bench is flat with little contouring, both front pews offer reasonable support in all directions using a combination of cloth and vinyl (Holden calls it Sportec) materials.
Interestingly the cloth trim extends on to the dash…which invokes memories of RSL internal design. Thankfully the Cruze trim is not cut from the same cloth as the kaleidoscope found at your local "rissole".
The dash has a selection of modern features, including some slick finishes, with the 17.7cm colour touch-screen and MyLink system the highlight. It adds some glamour to a cabin which is starting to feel its age somewhat, and once you have the shortcuts and operation dialled it's quick to skip between functions.
Behind the wheel it's a concise view with the triple binnacle set-up offering simple reference for all the vital instruments. Toggling between trip functions is easy via one of the stalks and our preference is for the digital speedometer, but there is the option for various read-outs including average and instant fuel consumption figures.
On the road
Stamp your foot and the Cruze never hesitates in its response. The turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder is zesty without venturing into neck-snapping territory.
Venturing into a small gap in traffic or overtaking can be undertaken with confidence courtesy of the power under your right foot.
Boy-racers may find the steering too light or vague when pushing hard in the bends, but that works in the Cruze's favour when it comes to negotiating traffic or in tight car parks.
Unfortunately there's no rear-view camera in this model, you have to step up into the SRi-V to get that function.
What do you get?
An update to the SRi earlier this year had LED running lights, fog lights and new mirrors added to the equipment list, which also includes MyLink with built-in music and podcast apps, 17-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, six airbags and stability control which contributes to a five-star safety rating, air-con, power windows, six-speaker CD stereo with USB and iPod/MP3 compatibility, bluetooth phone and audio streaming as well as cruise control.
Average fuel consumption proved to be about two litres heavier than the official figure from Holden, sipping about nine litres for every 100km.
Buyers will have no qualms with servicing costs as they are capped for life. You can go to the marque's website and get the price, depending on model year and how many kilometres travelled, before returning to the dealership.
Adults and long-legged teens will have no issue with the knee, head or toe room in the back, and the boot is also voluminous. Good enough for a couple of large suitcases.
One of the trade-offs with having such a large boot is the lack of a spare, you just have to make do with repair goop. Those wanting a spare and a Cruze have to opt for the Sportwagon derivative.
There are a pair of cup holders in the front, and another two are available in the fold-down arm-rest in the back.
The USB and auxiliary ports are found in the console, while in front of the shifter is the perfect spot for a phone.
Those also worth a look in this mildly sporty sedan genre are the Nissan Pulsar SSS ($26,990), Mazda3 SP25 ($25,190), Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S ($27,400) or Honda Civic 2.0 Sport ($30,290).
The Cruze has become a favourite with those who like to dabble with the aftermarket accessories. This model gets 17-inch alloys, while the range-topper gets 18s. The latter fills out the arches better for a meaner look, and we've seen some head-turning variants getting around with low-profile rubber and dropped suspension.
Value is at the heart of the Holden Cruze. It's beginning to feel its age, having first reached our shores in 2009, but the exterior design and impressive deals from Holden ensure it remains in the small car mix.
While not a performance car, the SRi does pack some punch without the knockout force which catches the attention of authorities.
Model: Holden Cruze SRi.
Details: Front-wheel drive four-door small sedan.
Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 132kW @ 5500rpm and peak torque of 230Nm @ 2200rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Consumption: 7.4 litres/100km (combined average).
Bottom line plus on-roads: $23,140.
What matters most:
What we liked: Zippy turbo performance, sizeable cabin and rear seat legroom.
What we'd like to see: Reversing camera as standard, dual zone air-con.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year/100,000km warranty. Servicing intervals are every 15,000km or annual. There is lifetime capped price servicing available through Holden dealers, and this model is $239 for the first four services, and $299 for the three thereafter.
Driving experience 15/20
Features and equipment 16/20
Functionality and comfort 15/20
Value for money 17/20
Style and design 16/20