The Cruze SRi looks like an ordinary mainstream hatch on the outside, so you might be somewhat surprised by its performance.
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, 17-inch wheels on 225/50 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?
When we’re talking about Australian cars in these tumultuous times, let’s not forget about the Holden Cruze hatchback. Both Cruze sedan and hatch are manufactured in Australia, but it’s the five-door that’s most at home because Holden was the lead company in the General Motors design/engineering project that created the hatchback body shape.
The more upmarket SRi (as tested here) and SRi-V versions are a unique creation of Holden, matching the fundamentally Korean Cruze package with a 1.6-litre turbo engine and Watts Linkage rear suspension setup from the European Astra. That’s possible because Cruze and Astra ride on the same platform.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
The Cruze SRi looks like an ordinary mainstream hatch on the outside, so you might be somewhat surprised by its performance. The 1.6-litre direct-injection turbo engine is a step up from the previous model’s 1.4-litre mill and delivers crisp performance – not searingly fast at 0-100km/h in 9.5 seconds, but suitably sporty in the way it delivers its 132kW/230Nm.
The six-speed automatic is smooth but does sometimes put a damper on that performance, with a lazy calibration and an occasional reluctance to kick down. You can put it in sport mode but then it goes a bit too far the other way, feeling hyperactive at times. You can always hand-shift the transmission, although you have to use the gearlever because the Cruze doesn’t have steering wheel paddles.
However, the steering and chassis are excellent – the more complex rear suspension hardware of the SRi really does give it a more sophisticated feel.
This model really does prove that there’s no such thing as a generic Holden Cruze: the difference between this car and, say, the entry version with its ho-hum 1.8-litre engine and more rudimentary suspension setup is day and night.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH?
If the Cruze has one major failing, it’s the dank interior. The styling is modern but the materials are nothing special and the dark tones are a bit depressing; whether the flashes of brightly coloured cloth trim on the dashboard do anything to cheer the car up will be a matter of personal taste.
The SRi has less luxury equipment than the SRi-V, but it’s reasonably well specified for the price. You have to be content with manual control for the air conditioning and the lack of parking radar/camera is a disappointment – especially when the car has the beautiful MyLink multimedia touch screen on board, which would provide the idea conduit for such a system.
Nonetheless, MyLink does the trick for multimedia functions/audio displays and is very easy to use. It includes the Pandora and Stitcher Internet radio applications, which link up with your personal cellphone when connected.
The SRi has automatic headlights and cruise control, while the 60/40 split rear seat allows you to make the most of hatchback practicality.
SHOULD I BUY ONE?
There’s plenty to recommend the Cruze SRi in a crowded small-car marketplace. It doesn’t have the interior quality/ambience of some rivals, but in terms of performance and handling it will appeal to the keen driver.
Air conditioning: Manual
Audio: CD, iPod compatible, MyLink control for Pandora and Stitcher
Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/No
Blind spot warning: No
Cruise control: Yes
Driver footrest: Yes
Gas discharge headlights: No
Head-up display: No
Heated/ventilated seats: No
Keyless entry/start: No/no
Lane guidance: No
Leather upholstery: Part man-made leather with cloth
Parking radar: No
Power boot or tailgate: No
Power seat adjustment/memory: No
Remote audio controls: Yes
Satellite navigation: No
Seat height adjustment: Yes
Self-parking technology: No
Split/folding rear seats: 60/40
Steering reach adjustment: Yes
Trip computer: Yes
Find a Holden Cruze SRi HERE