Now regular readers of Three on the Tree will know how much of a fan of Diesel powered vehicles we are around here, so you could imagine how extremely excited I was last friday when I picked up the keys to a gleaming red Holden Cruze CDX Diesel Hatch from Holden.
The excitement soon gave way to a little bit of trepidation when I realised that it had been a few years since I’d driven a manual.
Now since i had the Cruze for a week I thought rather then see how quick it goes around corners or how fast it did the quarter mile like a lot of other reviewers do I would see how good it was at everyday city chores like doing the regular run around locally, the school run etc etc.
Now the big attraction to buying diesel is the fantastic fuel economy they offer over petrol engines and being a family man with 2 daughters at school I was really interested to see how economically the Cruze would handle the daily school run.
Now the school run for our family involves a lot of bumper to bumper slow traffic an ave speed of 25kph is considered fast this doesn’t help with fuel economy doesn’t matter what car it is.
I am happy to report the Cruze handled it great averaging 8.3L/100km, put it into perspective my diesel Captiva’s ave is 11 to 12L/100km on the same trip and my old SS Commodore use to average 22 to 25L/100km. Any car is really going to struggle beating those figures just for the fact we sit there in bumper to bumper traffic the whole time so i was damn happy with the economy of the Cruze.
Once you get moving along a little faster then the fuel economy improved again I drove 630km’s over the week and averaged 6.7L/100km for the whole week that was a mix of peak hour bumper to bumper normal city driving and freeway driving.
On the freeway the turbo diesel and 6 speed manual combination really comes into it’s own producing unbelievable economy.
The Cruze is a fantastic highway effortlessly lopping along in 6th gear at the limit, the turbo diesel gives you plenty of power for overtaking if needed all that is required is a quick downshift to 5th and away you go.
Ok so the fuel economy impressed me what about the rest of the car. Ok I’m going to start with under the bonnet.
2.0 litre DOHC 16 valve 4-cylinder common rail turbo diesel engine is rated at 120kW @ 3800rpm and 360Nm @ 1750rpm.
While this car is very economical it can be, I dare say it rather sporty to drive the 6 spd manual makes it very easy to take advantage of the fantastic amount of low down torque the 2.0 Turbo Diesel has using a generous right foot in 2nd gear will push you back in the seat.
I’m not ashamed to say when I was reaquainting myself with driving a manual again I went around a few corners in the wrong gear and while some other cars would faulter the torque of the diesel just powered through.
Now, as I was reacquainting myself with driving a manual caused great delight, enjoyment and amusement to my family especially my eldest daughter Madison when i managed to stall it a few times doing a hill start at her school.
The fact the Cruze is a real easy car to drive, I felt comfortable in the driving seat the first moment I sat in it the clutch is light and it’s very easy to find the friction point, the gear shifts are precise so it didn’t take long for me to get my manual mojo back.
Now my first 2 days I spent driving around in the Cruze I thought to myself I need to be very objective and I admit I tried to find something wrong with the Cruze but the more I drove it the more I liked it and I was really having trouble finding something wrong with it.
The Cruze was great around the city very easy to drive in traffic and had excellent economy. Some nice power there if you ever needed it.
Now I know I said that I wanted this to be a different kind of road test more practical and concentrating on how the Cruze went with normal life driving around the city taking the kids to school, but I just couldn’t have the Cruze for week and not test out how well it performed.
So where would you go to test out how the Cruze performs ?
Well I couldn’t think of a better place to test a Holden then the legendary Mount Panorama circuit at Bathurst in NSW. Now you must be hiding under a rock or living a very sheltered life if you live in Australia and have never heard of Mount Panaorama.
Anybody that has driven around Mt Panorama will know that it’s not flat the run up to the top of track is rather steep so I was able to explore the low torque of turbo diesel on the way up.
Once you get to the top you have to then weave your way down through the esses and one of the most famous corners in Australian motorsport the Dipper. Which is rather fun even at only 60km/h at no time did the Cruze complain or feel unbalanced.
The steering is very direct and the Cruze went where I pointed it every time.
I got the feeling the Cruze could handle the task at hand at a lot higher speed then I was game or legally allowed to do.
I know I hear you, enough about whats under the bonnet (sorry I really love this engine).
Whats the Cruze like on the inside?
The Cruze CDX is very well equiped (but the base model CD isn’t exactly sparely equiped either).
The CDX just gets that little bit more like leather trim, heated front seats, rear parking sensors, leather bound stearing wheel and gear knob.
The leather seats where comfortable and the lateral support going corners was great (something that’s non existent in my Captiva ggrrrr). The rear seat offers a generous amount of leg room for a small car. I tend to have my seat back a little bit more then some people do and when I climbed into the back seat there was room between my knees and the back of the drivers seat. It might be a bit of a squeeze with three big adults in the back but 3 kids or an adult and a couple of kids wouldn’t be prob at all and 2 adults would have more then enough room.
Onto the boot now since being the owner of Astra hatch I know that hatch backs can offer you a reasonable amount of boot space, but the amount of boot space the Cruze has surprised me when I opened the hatch the first time.
At 413 litres the Cruze has one of the biggest if not biggest boot on the market in it’s class & when you put the split fold rear seats down it opens up to 1254 Litres which is very practical indeed.
How practical? well I put it to a real life test and figured I could get at least 48 large pizza’s in the back without putting the back seats down. Oh and at least 40 loaves of garlic bread I always forget the garlic bread.
In all seriousness the boot space is extremely large and will swallow the biggest shopping loading with ease so more then enough room for your average family.
The spare is mounted in the floor of the hatch which is very easily accessed I also loved the little storage spaces mounted around the spare which is more then enough room to store the kids grubby footy clothes after a muddy game.
Ok so whats my conclusion after spending a week in the manual Holden Cruze CDX diesel hatch well I was damn impressed I am defiantely not surprised they are selling well I think Holden is on a winner with the Cruze and made the greatest decision ever to build it here in Australia.
Now I’ve spent a while trying to come up with things i don’t like about the Cruze and there isn’t alot.
Lets start with the front seats I am a huge fan of the front seats I think they are comfortable and offer great support.
What I don’t like and my wife agrees is the height adjustment you have to basically pump a lever either up or down to make it go up. I know I’m being a little picky (see I really did have issues finding something wrong with it) but I own a 2002 Astra and it has the exact same lever setup. The rest of the seat is electrically adjusted so why not just add electric height adjustment as well.
The centre stack I found a little plain. The stereo is good and the LCD screen offers some info, but i found the whole set up just a little boring basically it’s the same set up as the CD.
I feel that the CDX would benefit more from having the same audio setup as the SRI-V 9when you look at pricing there’s not much difference between to the two.
While it has bluetooth connectivity for your phone which works great, I think bluetooth streaming would be a better again.
The view is not the worlds best out the hatch I think it’s the slope of the glass, while it’s doesn’t offer that much of a restriction while driving it does offer a bit of a problem when reverse parking.
Thank god for the reverse sensors which are great and do their job perfectly but I did find the beeps a little quiet I wanted to turn them up.
I will take some points off the Cruze because there’s no option for a reverse camera, now I’m a huge fan of reverse cameras not just because my Captiva has it.
I think reverse cameras can be an important life saving device that should be standard on every car on the market today.
So the big question is would I buy one? To be honest yes I would the Cruze has impressed me enough, Although I would love to drive the diesel with an auto and the SRI-V before I made up my mind.
The Cruze is a fantastic car it’s well insulated which equates to a very quiet drive because of the low road noise. Very comfortable, easy to drive, easy to park, handles and rides well, is very frugal on petrol, has plenty of room with lots of storage and is very well equipped .
Would i recommend a Cruze to anyone most definately it’s great fuel which makes it great for the weekly commute to work and it has plenty of room for the whole family to go away in on the weekends.
If you’re in the market for a small car I would wholeheartedly tell you to go take a Cruze for a drive it’s a damn fine motor car.
The big plus to for me with the CDX Diesel hatch the 2.0L Turbo diesel engine, it has awesome low down torque has plenty of power for overtaking it put a smile on face when ever i drove it I recon it’s a real cracker of a donk.
Besides that it’s made here in Australia by Holden at their Elizabeth plant in South Australia which means by buying a Cruze your supporting local manufacturing.
I would like to finish by thanking Andrea Matthews at Holden for organising the Cruze for me to review I really appreciate it.
If you would like anymore info on the Holden Cruze check out the Holden website http://www.holden.com.au/vehicles/series-ii-cruze