WHAT IS IT?
Holden’s top of the tree small SUV. I’ve never liked Trax much but I have to admit the latest version is a lot better. More importantly they’ve finally managed to do something about the goofy looks. This time around it looks way more sophisticated and streamlined (thanks Richard Ferlazzo).
Prices start from $23,990 for the 1.8 petrol LS or you can have the same car with the 1.4-litre turbo and a 6-speed auto for $26,490. They’ve also introduced a mid range LT model with an auto priced from $28,890 in a bid to pull back some of the bracket creep that’s affected the LTZ. That’s about the price the LTZ used to be – now $30,490 plus on roads it’s a bit steep. Any colour but red or white adds $550 to the price.
WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET?
Both the 1.8 and the 1.4-litre turbo four cylinder petrol engines produce the same 103kW of power. The big difference is in the torque which rises from 175 to 200Nm with the turbo and is produced much earlier in the rev range – 1850 instead of 3800 rpm. This makes the car much easier and more pleasant to drive because the engine does not have to work as hard.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
Not bad, to a point. Being a Holden the ride quality is good thanks to local suspension tuning. With plenty of torque available, it’s smooth and fairly responsive to the throttle. But you don’t want to push too hard through corners or it will become unsettled. That’s okay because it’s not that kind of car anyway and 99.9 per cent of buyers will not care. The 6-speed auto misses out on gear change paddles, but gets an up/down thumb change button on the shifter (too bad it’s awkward to use). Depending on the road surface tyre noise can be intrusive.
IS IT COMFORTABLE?
The ride height makes entry and exit easy, so it will appeal to oldies. The seats are reasonably comfortable, but it’s difficult to find a comfortable driving position and rear legroom is a little snug. The boot is on the small side too. A high roofline and large windows tend to let the glare in and for this reason it can be uncomfortable on a sunny day.
IS IT ECONOMICAL?
Rated at 6.7L/100km we were getting 6.8 after almost 800km of mixed driving. That’s pretty good for a car this size and weight, with no auto stop-start to help things along – but note that it takes premium 95 unleaded fuel which takes some of the shine off the equation.
IS IT GREEN?
Gets 4 out of 5 from the Green Vehicle Guide, or at least it used to. The 1.4 auto produces 163g/km of CO2 while the benchmark hybrid Prius is good for 80g/km – obviously costs much more though.
IS IT SAFE?
No problems here, especially with the LTZ. With six airbags and electronic stability control it gets five stars for safety with additional safety aids like blind spot and rear cross traffic alert as well as rear sensors and a rear view camera. The cross traffic system warns in case you’re in danger of back into a passing car when reversing out of a car space. Missing is auto emergency braking.
IS IT GOOD VALUE?
Interior finish feels cheap. Though it’s top of the line there’s no power adjustment for the seats, although they’re heated. The lights work automatically, but the wipers and rear view mirror don’t. What’s more Holden and other manufacturers seem to have abrogated their responsibility for the provision of tech with the arrival of Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto. Again, though it’s the top of the line. there’s no navigation and no sign of the BringGo app that you could previously download (or for that matter Pandora, TuneIn and Stitcher). That leaves you having to cable up your phone, use your precious data plan and rely on Google Maps to get you there – it’s inconvenient to say the least.
WHAT ARE THE COMPETITORS?
Ford’s underwhelming EcoSport. The top of the line Titanium is $27,790. Toyota’s confronting new C-HR. It’s Koba is $35,290. Or there’s Mitsubishi’s aging but still smart looking ASX XLS which goes for $31,500 these days and remains the bargain in the segment.
WOULD WE BUY ONE?
Not my cup of tea but the missus likes it. At the risk of sounding politically incorrect we suspect the majority of buyers will be female.