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Holden Cruze Sri Z-series

 

The Holden SRi-V returns as the new Cruze SRi Z-series. David Linklater takes it for a test drive.

Base price: $39,490.

Powertrain and performance: 1.6-litre petrol four, 132kW/230Nm, 6-speed automatic, front-drive, Combined economy 7.9 litres per 100km, 0-100km/h 9.5 seconds.

Vital statistics: 4542mm long, 1477mm high, luggage capacity 413-1254 litres, 18-inch wheels on 235/45 tyres.

We like: Crisp engine, sporting chassis, value for money.

We don’t like: Lethargic gearbox, dowdy interior.

How it rates: 7/10.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? Once you wrap your tongue around the name, you might remember the Holden Cruze SRi Z-series from such times as when it was called the SRi-V.

Holden New Zealand has come to favour this Z-designation for models with added-value equipment and a limited amount of time left on the market, so the former flagship of the range has been renamed.

Apart from the badge, not a lot has changed. The SRi Z has a sportier look than the standard SRi thanks to a body kit and 18-inch wheels, while it gets full leather upholstery and satellite navigation in the cabin.

Both SRi variants are a fascinating fusion of ingredients cooked up by Holden from the global General Motors (GM) parts bin. The base car is the Korean Cruze of course. But the SRi has a crisp 1.6-litre turbo engine sourced from Opel, which also lends its GM cousin a more sophisticated rear suspension setup than other Cruze models (Cruze and the European Astra are based on the same platform).

All our Cruze models apart from the wagon are built in Australia of course, and the hatchback body style featured here was actually designed Down Under for global use by GM.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? It’s not a hot hatchback by any means, but the direct-injection turbo engine and Watts Linkage rear suspension still give the Cruze SRi Z a bit of sparkle. Enough to lift it above the small-car mainstream at least.

It’s not super-fast at 0-100km/h in 9.5 seconds, but suitably sporty in the way it delivers its 132kW/230Nm. A six-speed manual is available to indent order, but most buyers opt for the six-speed automatic. It has the requisite number of ratios, but it can feel a bit lazy and it occasionally shudders when changing gears – especially if you’re not absolutely consistent with the throttle.

Gearchange paddles on the steering wheel would give the driver a bit more control, although you do get a Sport mode and the transmission can be shifted manually via the main lever.

The steering and chassis are highlights for this car – the more complex rear suspension hardware of the SRi really does give it a more sporting feel. Try this car and you’d never go back to a standard Cruze Equipe.

IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? Like the larger Captiva, the Cruze suffers from a dowdy interior that looks piecemeal – as if the luxury equipment of the SRi Z was something of an afterthought.

But you can’t argue with the level of equipment on this sub-$40k car. The Z has leather upholstery, heated seats and Holden’s excellent MyLink touch-screen with satellite navigation. The controls are a bit fiddly, with a circular cluster of tiny buttons on the centre console, but you can’t fault the features.

The SRi has automatic headlights and cruise control, while the 60/40 split rear seat allows you to make the most of hatchback practicality.

Keyless entry and start is also standard on the Z-series. It’s a good feature that creates a premium impression, but the locking mechanism is frustratingly slow. Press the button on the door handle and there’s a perceptible delay before it secures the car – enough to encourage you to wait a moment to make sure it locks. Eventually, you just start walking away and using the keyfob to lock the car in the conventional manner.

SHOULD I BUY ONE? Cruze is looking and feeling a bit dated against some of its small-car rivals. But while it’s lost that new-model sparkle, it’s still a handsome, good-to-drive package in SRi Z form.

Not to mention one loaded with standard equipment for the price.

EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST

  • Air conditioning: Climate
  • Audio: CD, iPod compatible, MyLink control for Pandora and Stitcher
  • Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/Yes
  • Blind spot warning: No
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Cruise control: Yes
  • Driver footrest: Yes
  • Head-up display: No
  • Heated/ventilated seats: Yes, three-level/No
  • Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes
  • Lane guidance: No
  • Leather upholstery: Yes
  • Parking radar: Yes with camera
  • Power boot or tailgate: No
  • Power seat adjustment/memory: Yes/No
  • Remote audio controls: Yes
  • Satellite navigation: Yes
  • Seat height adjustment: Yes
  • Self-parking technology: No
  • Split/folding rear seats: 60/40
  • Steering reach adjustment: Yes
  • Stop-start: No
  • Trip computer: Yes

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