First Drive: Holden Cruze CD/CDX
By Phill Bertolus - 25/May/2009
European styling make the
shine amongst it's competitors.
Holden Cruze small car is powered by
4-cylinder turbo diesel or petrol engines.
The Cruze has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
The interior is stylish
Cruze Global Development
Holden's new Cruze is an important car to the
company during these
troubled times. 50% of Holden's revenues were generated from exports.
With the global financial crisis those export markets are drying up.
"86% of the 50% were exports to the US" explained Managing Director
With the demise of GM's Pontiac brand, falling
victim to the global
financial crisis in the US, the local company believes its future lies
increasingly with the small car segment.
Full pricing for the new Holden small car
Cruze CD 1.8-litre petrol manual $20,990
CD 1.8-litre petrol auto $22,990
CDX 1.8-litre petrol man $23,990
CDX 1.8-litre petrol auto $25,990
CD 2.0-litre diesel manual $23,990
CD 2.0-litre diesel auto $25,990
Replacing export revenues from the V8 shod Pontiac
rebadged Commodore SS) with the global Cruze car is Holden's aim. To
that end the company intends to produce a hatchback variant of the
Cruze in South Australia alongside the Commodore. This opens the door
restructuring Holden's product lineup and possibly even export
an ambitious aim requires a fair degree of Australian engineering input
to the globally designed vehicle. Holden's Australian engineering and
design experts spent a significant amount of time at the international
design centre for this car in Korea. And this is evident from driving
the four versions on offer here in Australia.
Driving all four models of the Cruze during
Holdens recent press day,
first impressions are of a competent solid car bristling with state of
the art technologies. While it's difficult to fully assess the cars
after driving them for a mere 50km each, some obvious things do stand
starting off with the Cruze CD Diesel manual, I put Holden's claim of
seating 5 adults to the test by sitting in the rear seat. I'm a 186 cm
(6'1" on the old scale) adult and it's arguable that I can fit into the
rear seats comfortably as my head touched the roof. From the outside of
the car it's fairly evident that this is caused by the stylishly curved
roofline. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 25% of
males over the age of 18 are taller than 180cm (and 0.1% of females).
Essentially, about 1 out 10 males will touch their heads too.
Settling into the driver's seat of the dual
cockpit design was easy
with all the various components adjusting to the appropriate place. The
interior is definetly Holden.
the engine revealed the unmistakable characteristic diesel rattle
gently making its way through the heavy sound insulating layers
liberally applied to this car. It's certainly not loud but ever present
Autralians don't buy diesel passenger cars in
great numbers, but it is certain is that
the proportion is growing, driven largely by the SUV class of vehicle
where diesel technology has largely displaced the Otto cycle petrol
drive train. Holden says the Australians buy diesels at the rate of
about 10 to 15 percent. In contrast, European countries see the mix at
Furthermore, from a marketing perspective the diesel engine in
Australia is a "boy
Well I'm in Australia, and I'm a boy, so why would
I want one of these diesel propulsion units.
from the moment you release the clutch on the manual Cruze, you feel
the effortless acceleration delivered by the engine from such low revs.
It's the sort of feel only considerably bigger petrol engines can
produce with their higher torque. V8 drivers will be familiar with the
sort of "grunt" this type of engine releases down low. The low noise
levels contribute to the impression that the engine is hardly working.
Being a manual this car promises to deliver astonishing economy. Holden
claims 5.7 litres to the hundred.
Diesel "Common Rail Direct
Injection" is a term bandied about by the marketing people. Well what
it and why do I want it? There are two principle advantages of the
modern system. Reduced vibration/noise and no warm up. It also produces
less pollution helping engines using it to pass stringent emmission
standards. It's new technology because the computers used to control
the injectors have only become fast and cheap enough in the last 10
years to allow multiple injections for each firing.
cost of computer hardware is now so cheap, that previously expensive
control units once found only in more expensive models are now becoming
the province of "small" lower cost cars.
The Cruze is bristling
with computers. Gone are the days of "the" ECU. This has evolved into a
network of computers running on a LAN. Cruze is the first Holden
product to use GM's proprietary network called the "Serial Data
Electrical Architecture". Younger readers will know that their
computers at school and university are all connected to the network (or
LAN). Cruze uses the same concept with it's various computing units.
Computers for ESC (Electronic Stability Control), ABS (Anti-Lock
Braking), Engine management, gearbox control and body management all
"talk" to each other via the LAN.
Some of the Holden Cruze's safety features,
standard across the range, include:
Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
Traction Control (TC)
Anti-lock Brakes (ABS)
Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)
airbags including driver, front passenger, front side and curtain
retractor and lap pretensioners with seatbelt load limiters
The initial impression of Cruze diesel manual is
pretty good. However, only a full road test can be really meaningful.
paper the 1.8 petrol is capable of producing similar amounts of power
to the diesel. Where the diesel manual is a superbly simple machine to
drive due to its abundance of acceleration and torque at any engine
revs, the petrol demands plenty of gear changes to ensure the engine is
in the "power band". Other vehicles in the class offer larger capacity
engines helping to ease the need to make so many gear changes.
petrol auto is a quite different kettle of fish. This revision of the
Cruze, with the aid of its auto transmission computer, transforms the
engine. The 6 speed auto cog swapper shifts gears at a rate that
would make Neo fighting hundreds of Agent Smiths in "The Matrix" proud.
While it's difficult to tell after such a short drive, you can see that
the transmission is juggling the requirements of an economical driving
style with those of performance. Some might say the car has a "mind" of
Finally the diesel auto. Available in the lower
CD version, this car has an abundance of torque and an easy to drive 6
speed auto. Also the highest priced in the range Holden claims it
returns excellent fuel consumption figures (6.8 litre/100km).
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