Holden's Cruze isn't an Aussie-designed model, but forget those traditional Korean stereotypes. GM wanted a world car that would sell anywhere, and this vehicle is also badged a Chevrolet in some markets.
Here it sells against two strong contenders, the Kia Cerato and Honda City. All three are handsome compact sedans, and similarly priced.
If it's fuel-frugal you're after it's hard to get past the petrol Honda, which delivered a 5.6l/100km thirst for the duration of my test drive. But few buy on thirst alone, and I just liked this diesel Cruze.
Sure, the engine doesn't feel as refined as the City's, but that growly diesel note allied to the powerplant's strong torque imparted more character than expected, while this base car's fabric cabin flourishes impressed.
Yes, forget sheets of textured plastic for the dash; there's a chunky textile weave supplying visual flair and a pleasant feel, as well as a link to the doors and seats that unifies the cabin.
That cabin is a pleasant enough place to be. The ergonomics were good, it's easy to get comfy and proved spacious enough for a 1.8-metre passenger to stretch out.
My test car had the 110kW/320Nm 2.0-litre common rail turbocharged diesel mated to a five-speed manual transmission, the pairing generally working well together. However, let the revs drop and she plunges off the powerband like a lemming off a cliff - you soon get used to keeping to a favourable gear/speed equation.
Can't be bothered with manuals? There's an up-spec CDX auto due next year. Meanwhile that spec level is available only with the petrol engine, which is neither especially refined nor particularly frugal. But the diesel's thirst is reasonable. I have a fairly demanding, hilly commute - yet the diesel's 6.8l/100km average when I collected it had dropped to 6.5 on its return, well above the 5.7 claim, but not bad considering how little highway I encounter.
Get over your aversion to diesels and self-shifters is my advice, this is the better car.
Mind you it's not a driving enthusiast's wet dream, with competent handling biased to ride compliance, not inspirational corner-carving. That means Cruze won't enthuse those seeking a passionate connection with their wheels which, while we're on the topic, are steel rather than alloy.
That hasn't put too many off, with around a third of Cruze buyers opting for the diesel CD, which at $31,490 includes cruise control, ABS brakes, stability control and six airbags, plus a particulate filter to trap nasty emissions before they leave your tailpipe. I like the steering wheel-mounted audio controls, while at 400 litres the boot was bigger than expected, too.
Holden's Cruze may not be a true supercar sibling, but it's a reasonably-priced, smart compact sedan. There's no hatch, but the three-box-shape does carry the advantages of less road noise, and luggage that's both secure from theft, and from flying forward in a crash.
See the Holden Cruze for sale here.