The first generation Holden Cruze turned out to be quite a popular car, but it was not without its downsides. Interior build and trim quality was not the best, and the diesel engine had so much lag that all the power arrived long after you really needed it. For the Series II Cruze though, Holden engineers have worked hard on the Korean built car to markedly improve the entire product.
Improved Build Quality
The result is a car that is much better put together and which has interior trim and fittings that match the competition, rather than lagging behind. The engineers have also been hard at work on both the suspension and more obviously, the engines. There is now a 1.4 litre turbocharged petrol version and the new 2.0 litre diesel fitted to the car has virtually no lag at all, making it a much better car to drive.
Turbocharged Cruze SRi
The 1.4 litre turbo is rather confusingly labelled SRi, which has been a moniker for the sportier versions of Holden’s small car models, but in practice it really isn’t a performance car. Like Volkswagen, with its small displacement turbocharged engines the idea of the turbo in the Cruze SRi is to provide sufficient power while returning very good fuel economy. Holden quotes 6.4L/100km for the Cruze SRi and that’s not too far from the truth in real world testing.
The SRi tested here is the six-speed manual, which should make it feel rather sporty, but the clutch pedal engages when almost at the end of its upward travel, making smooth gear changing a challenge as the driver has to lift his or her entire leg to let the clutch engage smoothly, rather than just using a more natural foot tilting motion.
The diesel auto, also tested here, would still be the best choice for both economy and performance, as while it’s slower on paper than the SRi, it feels faster thanks to the 360Nm of torque and the quoted 6.7L/100km is only marginally worse than the petrol turbo.
Both cars have benefited from new suspension settings that actually make the cars quite fun to drive, unlike the previous Cruze, which felt stodgy and unresponsive.
So the series II Holden Cruze is a very good improvement on the original, showing that Holden and GM in a larger sense are serious about building high quality small cars rather than just relying on a sharp purchase price to shift lots of metal.