Commodore SS, HSV – we know they’re keen on high performance cars at Holden and now the Cruze has a racy flagship in the turbocharged SRi and SRi-V models. Introduced as part of the Model Year 14 updates, the 1.6-litre forced-induction petrol engine rounds-out a comprehensive Holden Cruze lineup which also includes the naturally-aspirated 1.8-litre and turbocharged 1.4-litre petrols plus 2.0-litre turbo-diesel powerplants.
Very impressive for a small car made ‘downunder’ at Holden’s plant in Elizabeth, South Australia.
The thing is the Cruze has always had the looks – and now with that 1.6-litre turbocharged engine it has the grunt to match. Hot hatch? You bet!
Holden Cruze SRi Overview
Car Showroom tested the Cruze SRi hatchback (1.6-litre turbo) with a six-speed manual transmission. Priced at $22,490, the SRi model also gains sports suspension and, as part of the MY14 model updates, Holden’s MyLink infotainment system (7-inch colour touchscreen, Pandora and Stitcher apps).
When shopped against similar rivals, the Holden Cruze SRi presents remarkable value – in fact we reckon the SRi grade is the pick of the Cruze clan in ‘bang-for-your-bucks’.
Holden Cruze SRi Engine
In further proof of the internationalization of Holden’s product range, Cruze SRi secures its turbocharged 1.6-litre DOHC engine from the General Motors plant in Szentgotthard, Hungary and the six-speed manual transmission comes from Aspern, Austria. The engine is state-of-the-art with a low-mass hollow-frame cast iron block and the turbocharged is integrated within the exhaust manifold to both reduce weight and optimize under-bonnet space-efficiency.
Maximum power is 132kW at 5500rpm and peak torque of 230Nm arrives at 2200rpm. Fuel consumption for the six-speed manual Holden Cruze SRi we tested is rated at 7.4-l/100kms.
So the Holden Cruze SRi outguns Ford’s Focus Sport (125kW/202Nm) and Toyota’s Corolla (100kW/175Nm) but doesn’t quite match the 140kW of Nissan’s upcoming Pulsar hatch in turbocharged 1.6-litre guise – although you’ll need $24,990 for the Pulsar ST-S or $29,240 for the hot SSS variant.
Holden Cruze SRi The Interior
No doubt about the modern look of the Cruze interior – some of the best work of Holden’s design team in fact (well until the all-new VF Commodore arrives – we’ve seen it and the interior is the all-time best for a locally-produced car). We like the Cruze’s driver-focused cockpit layout and the stylish instrument cluster.
Holden Cruze SRi as tested gains a leather-wrapped steering wheel which is adjustable for rake/reach and combines with six-way adjustment for the front seats to provide a nice driving position. And we continue to like the design of the seats in Holden Cruze – supportive without being rocks and that includes the shoulders which are sometimes short-changed in small cars.
Audio is a six-speaker system which as part of the MY14 updates scores Holden’s MyLink system which includes a seven-inch colour touchscreen and app-enabled functionality.
With 917mm of leg room, 1370mm of shoulder room and 975mm of head room, rear seat passengers in the Holden Cruze are well catered-for (one of the roomiest small hatchbacks in fact).
Cargo capacity is 413-litres with the rear seat in-place or 1254-litres when folded.
Holden Cruze SRi Exterior & Styling
While not the newest kid on the hatchback block, Holden’s Cruze is still a slick, modern design (we reckon the Cruze sedan is amongst the best small sedans in the looks departments). In hatchback form, GM’s designers have done a good job of incorporating the tailgate and rear three-quarters in a harmonious way that some rivals haven’t quite managed.
And while Cruze is a global car for GM, the front-end has a distinctly ‘Commodore-ish’ look which is reassuring for local buyers. We like the rear-end with its large, modern tail-lights and overall there’s nice proportions which give the Cruze a balanced look and good on-road presence.
The SRi model as tested gains a sports body kit (front and rear fascias plus side skirts) and runs 17-inch alloy wheels.
Holden Cruze SRi On The Road
Holden Cruze SRi benefits from a locally-develop sports suspension system, tuned for its 17-inch Bridgestone Potenza tyres. Springs are stiffer and lower and there is a stiffer tune for the shock absorbers.
At the front, the system provides an internal rebound spring in the struts for increased roll stiffness while the rear sees a Watts link, shorter shock bump stop and a stiffer rear twist beam.
Turbocharged petrol Holden Cruze models also add electric power steering.
It was wet when we headed to our mountain roads test route in the Holden Cruze SRi and when pressing-on hard the extra power of the turbocharged 1.6-litre was evident with the traction control harnessing wheelspin under hard acceleration. We must say in those conditions the Cruze showed its class with that sports suspension keeping things nicely balanced and the firmish ride provided good feedback in both low-speed and high-speed corners.
To be fair we returned to the mountains in dry conditions and that run did confirm our earlier observations of the Cruze SRi with plenty of grip from those 17-inch Bridgestone tyres, crisp turn-in and again that nice cornering balance and immediate throttle response enthusiast drivers look for.
Around town the Holden Cruze SRi was refined, quiet and easy to maneuver. The clutch and transmission were light even in the peak-hour crawl and parking was a snack thanks to good all-round visibility.
Holden Cruze SRi Challenges
Our points deduction for the Holden Cruze SRi was the interior – nice design, layout and space but let-down by trim materials and plastics which aren’t on-par with the likes of Ford Focus or Honda Civic.
Holden Cruze SRi Verdict
There’s no doubt the turbocharged petrol engines (the 1.6-litre as tested and the earlier 1.4-litre) are the pick of the Holden Cruze lineup. These are very slick powerplants with nice response across all engine speeds and make the Cruze a very lively hatchback in terms of driving dynamics.
The SRi is the Holden Cruze model we’d buy. The combination of the turbo 1.6 and that excellent locally-developed sports suspension ticks our boxes as an all-round package.
In fact if HSV ever did a version of the Cruze we reckon the sports suspension wouldn’t be touched – it’s that good.
Holden Cruze SRi The Competition
At $22,490 the Holden Cruze SRi takes some beating in terms of value-for-money.
Ford’s German-developed Focus is a Car Showroom favourite small hatchback and enjoys 125kW/202Nm from its naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre engine. Good looking, great to drive and nicely equipped inside, you’ll need $25,890 for the ‘Sport’ model.
Mazda3 is the hottest-selling small car for good reason – it’s terrific and another Car Showroom favourite. With 108kW/182 Nm from its naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre engine, the Mazda3 isn’t the segment’s performance leader, but as an all-round quality package it takes some beating. $24,490 buys you the Mazda3 Maxx Sport model.