The sports hatch market has become crowded over the years, with ‘warm hatches’ filling the space between true city cars and ultra-tuned performance rides for track enthusiasts.
Warm hatches are often maligned as a ‘badge-only’ upgrade to hatchbacks, with few if any modifications on the entry model hatch.
Holden is turning that image on its head, by releasing the new Cruze Z-series range – taking over from the CDX and SRi-V range. Available in hatch as well as the compact sedan, the Holden Cruze is reclaiming ground amongst a marketplace teeming with pretenders to the throne.
My test car was the Holden Cruze SRi-Z hatch in Phantom Black – the perfect palette for the dark horse in the Holden range.
The sports body kit is flanked with more aggressive styling than on the Equipe and even SRi models.
Inside, it’s clear that Holden has put in the effort to make the new Cruze a step above in terms of quality and comfort. Leather seats, a 7” colour touchscreen with Holden’s smart myLink infotainment system, with apps including Pandora, Stitcher and Siri Eyes Free® connectivity.
The SRi-Z has been engineered specifically for performance. Utilising the 1.6L iTi turbo petrol engine, the Cruze gets an impressive 132kw/230Nm over the larger 1.8L standard engine in the entry models.
The SRi-Z also gains electric power steering, as opposed to hydraulic power steering of the entry-level models, to give a more precise feel on the road. In practice, this means the steering is loose around town, when you need to manoeuvre into tight car parks - while at speed you can have more control over the drive.
The optional six-speed automatic fitted to my test car moved through the gears effortlessly. It’s confident when shifting from city driving to highway motoring – maintaining speed easily thanks to its turbo engine.
If the Cruze is already an established name as a competent performer round-town, the SRi-Z adds on performance credibility.
The SRi-Z takes its cues from its brethren in the Cruze lineup in terms of practicality, with its sports leanings working to complement the sports hatch rather than detract from the drive.
One of the strengths of the Cruze has always been its functionality. The Z-series range builds on this by adding a performance element to the small car segment of Holden’s range.
The SRi-Z gets a five-star ANCAP rating, thanks to six airbags, electronic stability and traction control and brake assist. To complement this, our test car featured a reversing camera as well as the option of front and rear parking sensors to give you eyes on the outside. A four star rating in the Green Vehicle Guide gives it environmental street cred as well thanks to lower CO2 emissions.
Fuel consumption is good for the tuned up hatch, managing 7.9L/100km in a combined cycle (city and highway driving.) Holden recommends filling up with 95RON premium fuel, to maximise performance, but the SRi-Z can run on E10 if it needs to.
The Cruze range starts at $19,990 drive away, no more to pay for the entry-level Equipe hatch, finally landing at $34,827 (recommended drive away price) for the spacious CDX Sportswagon Diesel.
The sporty SRi-Z hatch, as tested, is priced at $28,556 drive away – which includes prestige paint and the six-speed automatic transmission with ActiveSelect.
With fuel prices ever on the increase, small cars are the way of the future; and the SRi-Z is another step forward in a market that was once neglected in favour of larger vehicles like the full-size sedan and SUV. It proves that Holden is committed to addressing the needs of the market as people look for both performance as well as frugal efficiency in their cars.
The Cruze is able to offer drivers a spirited and rewarding drive in a compact, practical package in a market littered with imitations under $30,000.
Motorama has two of south-east Queensland’s most respected Holden and HSV dealerships, and with a history going back over five decades with Australia’s own carmaker - come in today to test drive the new Z-Series range and strike a balance between performance and practicality.