Holden Cruze SRi-V Hatch 2012 Review

Holden Cruze SRi-V Hatch 2012 Review

The top-of-the-line Holden Cruze has the sporting look that many hot hatches desire, but packs a frugal 1.4-litre 4-cylinder turbo which will see you sailing by the boy racers filling up at the petrol station.

Staff photographer, Adam Croy, reckons it would look mean as a Holden WRC entry. He’s got a good point as it comes with 17-inch wheels, front fog lamps and a sports body kit.

On the inside it’s very smart, too. You get a leather steering wheel and heated leather seats (the driver’s one is 6-way adjustable). The steering is very light – too light for my preference, but those with feeble biceps will not complain – and the seat is a little hard on long journeys. Where the SRi-V wins over its lesser brethren is

the seven-inch touch screen and satellite navigation, keyless start and premium DVD audio system. These round off an interior that punches above its weight.

The prerequisite safety electronics are installed: traction control (you won’t really need it because the engine isn’t grunty enough), electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes and electronic brakeforce distribution. EBD helps give the maximum braking power to each wheel, modulating the pressure so that one doesn’t lock. ESC monitors the steering angle in relation to the direction of the car and individually brakes each wheel to help bring the car back in line.

Our test car was fitted with the optional super-slick 6-speed manual gearbox. Keep it in the tall gears and you could achieve Holden’s quoted fuel consumption figure of 6.4l/100km for combined driving (urban and open road), and 8.4l urban. You might find, though, that this is difficult because you’ll want to keep it in lower gears so you have acceleration options.

Making a car that looks like a thirsty 2-litre turbo and fitting it with an economical 1.4-litre turbo is clever. Holden has created a car that looks almost as savage as a Ford Focus XR5, but gently caresses the planet rather than defiling it round the back of the bike sheds. In fact, drive it sensibly (but probably not where it’s hilly) and you’ll get 1000km on a tank – this is excellent economy for a petrol car of this size.

While you are being easy on the fuel you can take in the premium DVD system. It’s clever, too. You can pause live radio just like you can with Sky TV, and it’s got a 10Gb hard disk for storing your MP3s and ripped CDs. If you’ve got an iPod, it’s fully compatible utilizing the USB plug in the centre console.

So, will you buy the SRi-V? We didn’t test an automatic version but we would imagine that you’d be putting your foot to the floor a lot if you live in Auckland or Wellington with its many hills, and a lot of people don’t like manual gearboxes because they drive in rush hour traffic and are lazy. NZ Classic Car assistant editor (and Porsche 911 and Toyota Corolla owner), Ashley Webb, took the Cruze to Coromandel and back for the Targa and said as long as you worked with the gears, it was a “cracking car”. So much so he thought he’d photograph it in front of this $5 million house because he thought it looked good there.

It remains to be seen whether typical Cruze buyers will be teased into plumping for the top-of-the-range one, and whether people who might ordinarily purchase a hot hatch predominantly for the looks are swayed by the excellent fuel economy figures.

Pros

Frugal

Looks great

Plenty of bells and whistles

Cons

Lethargic unless you keep the revs up

Steering lacks feel

Seat is a bit hard

Price: $39,400 (manual)

Words Darren Cottingham, photos Ashley Webb.

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