THE last time I was in a small diesel Holden, Wham’s Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go was on the radio and I was wearing green pants with flecks and a ridiculous black-and-white striped shirt with a chef-style flap.
We had borrowed the diesel Gemini from my girlfriend’s sister for a weekend down the Coast, where we stayed at the same place that hosted couples selected as ideal mates by the love robot Dexter from Perfect Match.
The Gemini, with its 1.8-litre Isuzu engine, was a delight. It sounded like a tractor, but had solid performance, head-turning sporty looks, and a nifty 5-speed manual gearbox.
Fast forward a few decades and we have another compelling four-cylinder diesel offering from Holden.
There are petrol Cruzes, but we tested the diesel - and it is a gem.
Built at GM’s Gunsan plant in South Korea, it comes with three massive pluses - economy, safety and price.
Fitted with a 2.0-litre turbo-charged common rail diesel engine - also found in the Epica and Captive _ it adds another model to the brand’s green range, which carries the Holden EcoLine badge.
The powerplant produces 110kW of power and 320Nm of torque, most of which is available from 1750rpm to 3500rpm.
Ruthlessly fuel-efficient, it sips only 5.7 litres of the oily stuff for every 100km covered.
With its wide track and long wheelbase, the Cruze sedan feels and drives like a much bigger car.
The Holden is a little sluggish off the mark, but once up and running shows plenty of enthusiasm.
Cruze is among the safest cars going around, achieving a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.
In fact, Cruze scored 35.04 points out of a possible 37 in the testing.
This is thanks to a range of life-protecting systems including Electronic Stability Control, ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Traction Control, and six airbags (including curtain airbags), plus a collapsible pedal assembly system.
Standard equipment also includes cruise control, power windows, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, trip computer, automatic headlights and six-speaker audio system with MP3 compatible in-dash CD player.
Cruze, which is pleasant enough to look at without being a trendsetter, is available in eight colours, two solid (Arctic White and Chilli Red) and six metallic (Carbon Flash Black, Mercury Silver, Moroccan Blue, Iced Blue, Pewter grey and Light Gold).
It comes with one of the most advanced interiors of any small car on the market, offering impressive quality and functionality.
One of its greatest assets is its interior space. Unlike many other small cars, Cruze provides generous rear passenger leg, head and shoulder room. There is ample room to comfortably house five adults.
There are 60/40 split rear seats, seatback pockets, centre console CD storage, shopping bag hook and six cup holders.
All this for a car that starts from $20,990 for the manual petrol version (from $23,990 as tested).
It’s come a long way from the diesel Gemini and is sure to find plenty of fans, both young and old.
Holden Cruze CD standard features:
· 16 inch steel wheels
· Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
· Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
· Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)
· Traction Control (TC)
· Brake Assist (BA)
· Six airbags including:
- Front airbags for driver and front passenger
- Front side impact airbags
- Side curtain airbags
· Collapsible pedal assembly system
· Body coloured door handles and mirrors
· Automatic headlamps
· Six speaker audio system with MP3 compatible in dash CD, radio and MP3 functionality
· Cruise control
· Steering wheel audio and cruise controls
· Trip computer
· Power windows, front and rear
Recommended retail pricing
The Recommended Retail Price (excluding delivery and govt. charges) of the Cruze range is as follows:
• Cruze CD 1.8 litre petrol man / auto $20,990 / $22,990
• Cruze CDX 1.8 litre petrol man / auto $23,990 / $25,990
• Cruze CD 2.0 litre diesel man / auto $23,990 / $25,990