Since an emotional launch in Adelaide back in late February Australians have waited to hear the assessment of the new series 2 Holden Cruze. Would this second model build on the relative sales success of the first, or would it remind us of the disappointing Vectra range which Holden and GM would prefer to forget?
Apart from a new grill, new bumpers and new wheels there isn’t much to distinguish the new Cruze from the one which left showrooms and forecourts wrapped in plastic back in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Perhaps it was thought that with all the change in parts manufacture and fabrication now was not the time for wholesale design changes. Some of the smaller changes (better fuel economy, lighter suspension, 5 star ANCAP rating and keyless entry as standard) are interesting and positive but fall just short of being exciting.
The exterior is reminiscent of the boxy yet styled appearance of some of the European executive cars, the newer fifth generation BMW 3 series with its pronounced side panel lines springs to mind. The grill and front bumper looks well finished and simple, while the back looks seamless yet well finished.
The interior is smooth and professional looking with dials that remind me of the Mini Cooper, a centre console that mixes a metallic look with clearly marked buttons and dials. The only grievance here is the unusual position of the cigarette lighter which is placed within one inch of the hand break making it a little inconvenient for those of us who use the socket for iphone cradles and other car chargers great and small (there is a second socket but the placement of this is even less practical). The boot is nothing short of enormous with 445 litres of space, more than enough for even the most discerning of mob bosses.
The drive in the 1.4 turbo model was, for me, a mixed experience; I revelled in the quick acceleration in first, second and third gear but left with a feeling of loss in fourth, fifth and sixth. The car seemed simply too large to be powered by a 1.4 litre engine and, turbo or no turbo, the higher gears made me pine for the 1.8 or 2.0 litre models. Overall the car did drive well and the suspension was, by all accounts (myself included), singled out for praise, especially at higher speeds.
I subsequently tried the turbo diesel 2.0 litre automatic version a day after the review of the 1.4 turbo and, in short, it predictably beats the turbo 1.4 hands down. This was more fun with a more powerful engine, better economy with higher kilometres per litre and very quiet in relative diesel terms.
In total the Holden Cruze series 2 is a solid sedan at a very reasonable price (starting at a very low $20,990) with all the features you would expect from a new Holden of any range. With good fuel economy and equally good looks it could work out well as a fleet car; suitable for field sales reps and the like up and down the country (for an even better deal I would recommend the turbo diesel 2.0 model).
The car won’t dazzle clients but equally it won’t leave them thinking that you’re spending all of their money on a surplus to requirement executive fleet. In the end the car grew on me slowly but surely and on leaving it I missed its look and feel. Will it capture the elusive young professional market and cement the future of Holden’s Adelaide plant for years to come....only time will tell.
Have you experienced the Series 2 yet?
Do you think this is an improvement on the previous model?
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