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2012 Holden Cruze SRi-V Hatch Series II review

The 2012 Holden Cruze SRi-V Hatch Series II is as Australian as a meat pie with sauce. It’s locally designed, and locally assembled at Holden Vehicle Operations in South Australia. With its stylish appearance, sporty highlights, and low-displacement turbocharged engine, the SRi-V is a spacious, fuel-efficient performer for the masses.

2012 HOLDEN CRUZE SRI-V HATCH – PROS AND CONS

PROS:

  • Hatch variant offers smooth styling, and loads of space
  • Great low-displacement turbocharged engine; fuel efficient and powerful
  • Australian made = great for local jobs

CONS:

  • Power surges in the mid-range, possibly from turbo lag
  • Some of the buttons and interior gadgets feel a bit cheap and nasty
  • Tight rear seat legroom

2012 HOLDEN CRUZE SRI-V HATCH – OVERVIEW

Holden launched the Holden Cruze nameplate back in 2002 in the shape of a very small ‘sporty’ SUV, and it was, well, not that exciting… so when we heard the nameplate was making a comeback, we’ll be the first to admit we didn’t expect an attractive mid-sized sedan.

With the Astra retiring in 2009, Holden needed a new car for its lion tamers to flock to, and they’re certainly doing that according to the latest VFACTS figures; Holden sold 33,785 Cruzes in 2011, and 2315 alone in April 2012, placing it as second favourite behind the Mazda3 (3005).

The 2012 Holden Cruze SRi-V (in sedan and hatch form) is priced at $29,490 for the six-speed manual, and $31,790 for the six-speed automatic.

The SRi-V comes with a 1.4-litre 16-valve four-cylinder iTi turbocharged petrol engine, putting out 103kWand 200Nm. We tested 0-100km/h in 9.0 seconds.

2012 HOLDEN CRUZE SRI-V HATCH – ACCOMMODATION AND EQUIPMENT

Space, space, space. People tend to buy hatch variants for their ability to carry loads of stuff once the back seats are laid flat. On offer in the Cruze hatch is 413 litres of boot space, and that’s without laying the 60/40 split seats down (1254 litres). This compares well to Mazda3’s 340L capacity.

The driver and front-passenger leather seats are six-way manually adjustable, allowing passengers to find a comfortable position – they’re quite supportive, too. The front seats in the SRi-V have a heating option for those cold mornings, and they don’t take long to become nice and toasty (you can chose three levels of heating: low, medium and high).

Space and seat comfort in the front is good, allowing you to get snug. It is a small car, but there’s loads of legroom up front for the driver and passenger. In the rear, passengers aren’t treated with as much space, and at times can feel a touch cramped in. The rear seats can also feel a bit firm on long journeys.

Mod cons such as power windows all round with express up and down for the driver, and express down for all other windows, voice recognition, Bluetooth connectivity, timed headlamp delay allowing you to enter your house before they turn off, passive entry and start with sensor key, a seven-inch LCD touch-screen that displays all audio information, all help the 2012 Cruze SRi-V become a tech-savvy package. The touch-screen is also used for the clear and user-friendly navigation system.

2012 HOLDEN CRUZE SRI-V HATCH – DESIGN AND SAFETY

The Cruze achieves the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating thanks for a host of active and passive features. It’s also equipped with all the important three-lettered safety acronyms; anti-lock braking system (ABS); traction control system (TCS), electronic stability control (ESC), brake assist (BA); and electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD).

The 2012 Cruze SRi-V features no less than six airbags (driver, front passenger, front side and curtain), collapsible pedal release system – lowering the chance of injury to the driver in a front end collision, driver and front passenger seatbelt reminders, and three-point seatbelts in all five seating positions.

While the ’09, ’10, and ’11 Cruze models were available in sedan only, the hatch model was only added to the line-up for 2012. It came to life through Holden’s Port Melbourne Design Studio winning the right to take the lead role in designing a new five-door hatchback variant of the existing Cruze sedan.

The Holden design team also developed unique front and rear fascias for the SRi and SRi-V variants to give the sports models greater distinction; the fascias were introduced on sedan variants in March 2011.

Looking over the SRi-V’s exterior, 17-inch five-spoke wheels come standard, as does a blacked-out front air dam, chrome grille, side skirts, sporty rear ‘diffuser-inspired’ bumper bar, chrome door handles, and appropriate SRi-V badging on the bootlid, with only SRi on the grille. The shape of the hatch is extremely easy on the eye, leaving little room for complaint. The sweeping headlamps and V8 Supercar-esque front air dam gives the Cruze a masculine face without going over the top.

2012 HOLDEN CRUZE SRI-V HATCH – ON THE ROAD

Running about in the SRi-V is made easy thanks to sporty handling characteristics. It darts through traffic with ease. When driving, you can easily get a sense of the SRi-V’s whereabouts on the road. The length of the Hatch is 87mm shorter than the sedan, even though it does tend to look longer. And the extra metal up back doesn’t intrude rearward vision either.

Out on the open road, the 2012 Holden Cruze Hatch feels sturdy and sound. The electronic steering is well weighted through the bends (it varies steering efforts according to vehicle speed), and gives good feedback, with a good feel off-centre too – the electronic steering rack is only featured on Cruze models that are equipped with the 1.4-litre petrol turbo engine, all others use a hydraulic steering setup.

Move back a decade or so, and it seemed naturally aspirated combustion was the key to power. If we’d told you back then that a ‘tiny’ 1.4-litre turbocharged engine would be up to the task, you’d have shaken your head. The Austrian-sourced 1.4-litre turbo four-pot in the SRi-V is more than happy wind up to the speed limit with great swiftness. While it’s no powerhouse, it’s quite impressive around the streets, and builds torque progressively when approaching 80km/h and above – freeway overtaking… not an issue.

You never get the impression the engine is straining or running out of puff. Boost from the turbo however does come on strong and spikes in the mid-range in the low gears, and at times it can be quite abrupt when all you were looking for was a dab of acceleration. What you sometimes end up getting is 20-30km/h more speed by accident.

Our entry level SRi-V is equipped with the six-speed manual. While gearshifts are almost effortless, there’s an artificial character in the throw. A little more of a mechanical feel when the gear slots in would make all the difference. But it doesn’t detract from its overall smoothness.

In the handling department, the SRi-V hangs on through the bends and is quite a little performer. While it’s no WRX, it does have sharp turn in, and makes good use of its front MacPherson strut, and Watts Link rear suspension setup – the Watts link rear suspension setup is exclusive to models with the 1.4-litre engine.

Holden says the Watts Link rear “supports lateral forces while cornering. It makes for more dynamic, agile handling without compromising stability and comfort.” We’ve driven the other Cruze models that don’t feature this setup, and we must say, it does help the car feel more planted when pushed, especially when hitting mid-corner bumps and potholes.

The brakes in the SRi-V are more than up to the job of highway and city commuting, with a good, meaty feel to the pedal, even resiting to use the ABS when pushed hard.

2012 HOLDEN CRUZE SRI-V HATCH – VERDICT

The 2012 Cruze SRi-V is all about substance and style meeting on a perfect parallel. Its charming, youthful design is easy on the eye, while the gutsy engine and transmission (manual) provide the zip and tractability needed to get about without hassle. Fuel consumption is also excellent, with our test resulting an average of around 7.6L/100km.

Some of its competitors certainly knock on the door of ‘is the Cruze the right choice?’, but don’t be deterred by the naysayers. The Cruze is a very viable option when looking for a spacious, yet sporty hatch.

2012 HOLDEN CRUZE SRI-V HATCH – THE COMPETITORS

2012 Mitsubishi Lancer VRX Sportback – 125kW / 226Nm – 1400kg – $30,990 (manual)
A proven nameplate with Mitsu’ fans. The VRX has loads of room, a quality interior, and its newest 2012 model looks suaver than ever before. In Sportback form, it is rather good value.

2012 Mazda3 SP25 – 122kW / 227Nm – 1364kg – $31,490 (manual)
Mazda3; the car that knocked Holden Commodore off the top sales spot. One look in the local shopping centre car park will confirm just how popular these cars are.

2012 Ford Focus Sport – 125kW / 202Nm – 1368kg – $27,890 (manual 2.0-litre petrol)
Built in Germany (for now) and performs like a sporty hatch should. Presents very good value at $27,890. And isn’t bad on fuel either for an aspirated 2.0-litre four banger.

2012 Hyundai Veloster Plus – 103kW / 166Nm – 1230kg – $27,990 (manual)
The car that serves quirky in spades. The Veloster isn’t as big, and doesn’t offer as much luggage or cabin space as the Cruze, but damn it’s good to look at, and drive, too.

2012 HOLDEN CRUZE SRI-V HATCH – SPECIFICATIONS

MODEL
2012 Holden Cruze SRi-V Series II

ENGINE
1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder

ENGINE SIZE / COMPRESSION RATIO
1364cc / 9.5

BORE X STROKE
72.4mm x 82.5mm

POWER
103kW@4900rpm, 200Nm@1850-4900rpm

POWER TO WEIGHT RATIO
13.61 : 1 (kg:kW)

KERB WEIGHT
1402kg

HEIGHT / WIDTH / LENGTH
1477mm / 1797mm / 4542mm

DRIVETRAIN
Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive

BRAKES
F: 276mm ventilated discs
R: 268mm solid discs

WHEELS / TYRES
F and R: 17 x 7 inch, 225/50 R17

FUEL TANK CAPACITY
60 litres

FUEL TYPE
91 RON, recommended 95

FUEL CONSUMPTION
Tested average: 7.6L/100km
Official average: 6.6L/100km

PERFORMANCE
0-100km/h: 9.0 seconds (tested)

PRICED FROM
$29,490

WARRANTY
Three-year warranty / 100,000km

Josh was one of the original co-founders of PerformanceDrive. His expertise is car culture and aftermarket performance. He was the editor at Hot4s Magazine for a few years, and has since worked at Fast Fours, Zoom, and as a journalist for The Project Group.