Every once in awhile, we come across two different variants of the same model which, apart from sharing the name and looks, are two totally different cars. And no, we are not talking about a BMW M3 vs a BMW 320d, but a run of the mill Holden Cruze CD/CDX vs the upper spec SRi and SRi-V.
You see, under the bonnet of the Cruze CD/CDX (read review) is a coarse and uninspiring 1.8-litre petrol or 2.0-litre turbo diesel that we thought is an insult to the reasonably well sorted suspension and chassis. The twitchy six-speed automatic doesn’t help either.
The Cruze SRi/SRi-V, on the other hand, is a totally different story. First up, there is the much more refined and punchy 1.6-litre turbo petrol that develops 132 kW of power and 230 Nm of torque, that it shares with the Opel Astra GTC Sport. Then, there is the sporty 6-speed manual or the excellent 6-speed automatic with Sport mode. All packaged in a sedan or hatchback body with handling characteristics that will even shame some of the ‘hot hatches’ on the market.
The boosted four-pot loves to rev and the sharp throttle response only aids in its favour. Its 0-100 km/h sprint of 8.4 seconds is also respectable. However, the turbo doesn’t get to work until about 2,500 rpm and there’s noticeable lag in the lower rev range, which, in the manual can be a bit annoying when getting off the line.
Regardless of which gearbox you choose, both the manual and automatic in the Cruze SRi/SRi-V are great gearboxes. The close-ratio 6-speed manual is slick and fun while the automatic is quick shifting and responsive. Flick it into Sport mode and throttle response becomes sharper and you even get bliping down downshifts.
The pair’s remarkable driving dynamics are a result of extensive local inputs from Holden’s engineers. The car grips well with good composure around the bends. Nevermind the slight turbo lag because the car feels as though the steering, clutch, brakes and suspension have been tirelessly fine tuned again and again until they all nail the sweet spot. Collectively, they work so seamlessly you start to appreciate the fact that the SRi/SRi-V has been tweaked by passionate people who actually care about driving.
In essence, the Cruze SRi/SRi-V is much more than just a small car, it’s a very well balanced, fun to drive small car. If we were trying to be picky, we would only wish for the chassis to be a little more communicative and a sportier sounding exhaust.
Our week spent with the SRi/SRi-V returned an average of 9.1L/100km for the manual, and 10.3L/100km for the automatic, with equal split of urban and freeway driving. Nothing to shout about but not too bad either.
In terms of features the SRi adds on top of the already well equipped CD/CDX models, 17-inch alloy wheels and a 6-speaker infotainment system with MyLink, 7″ colour touch-screen, smartphone app integration and Bluetooth® audio streaming. In addition to that, the top spec SRi-V gets 18-inch wheels shot in fat 235 tyres, leather seats with heating, rear view camera and satellite navigation as standard.
On the safety front, the Cruze is equipped with 6 airbags, electronic stability control with anti-lock braking system and traction control.
With sharper performance and significantly better pricing against some of its closest rivals including the Mazda3 SP25 and Ford Focus 2.0L GDI, the Cruze SRi/SRi-V is, as a package is a hard one to beat and should be at the top of your small car shopping list.
|Price (Excl. on-road):||From $19,490 (Equipe 1.8 Petrol Manual) to 29,790 (2.0 turbo Diesel Automatic Wagon)
As tested: $22,490 (SRi 6-speed manual) & $28,690 (SRi-V 6-speed Sports Automatic)
|Warranty:||3-year or 100,000km|
|Engine:||1.8-litre 4-cylinder petrol 104kW @ 6,300rpm, 175Nm @ 3,800rpm; Front-wheel drive|
|2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel 120kW @ 3,800rpm, 360Nm @ 2,000rpm; Front-wheel drive|
|1.4-litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol 103kW @ 4,900rpm, 200Nm @ 1,850rpm; Front-wheel drive|
|1.6-litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol 132kW @ 5,500rpm, 230Nm @ 2,200rpm; Front-wheel drive (As tested)|
|Transmission||5-speed manual (Equipe), 6-speed manual or 6-speed Automatic|
|Fuel Consumption (Manufacturer’s Combined):||7.4L/100km (1.8l petrol); 6.7L/100km (2.0 turbo diesel); 6.8L/100km (1.4 turbo petrol); 7.9L/100km (1.6 turbo petrol auto); 7.4L/100km (1.6 turbo petrol manual)|
|Body:||5-door 5 seat sedan/hatch/wagon|
|Dimensions:||Length: 4518mm to 4675mm, Width: 1797mm, Height: 1477mm, Wheelbase: 2685mm|
|Kerb Weight||1,389-1,546 kg|
Mazda3 SP25, Ford Focus 2.0 GDI, Peugeot 308 1.6 Turbo