If the small SUV segment was hot before, it’s now sizzling. The two latest entrants in the competition add style, and a lot more, to the compact SUV offerings – those being Nissan’s new out-there Juke and Holden’s nicely styled Trax.
Our test car for the week was the new Holden Trax in its highest specification level, the LTZ. It comes comes standard with a six-speed auto transmission.
In our launch story of this vehicle we highlighted the MyLink media system that Holden is running out across its range. This is a clever system that marries Android and iPhone mobiles with embedded apps in the MyLink system that include satellite navigation, music libraries, radio stations – a raft of mobile telephone apps that run through the car’s screen.
Though it does minimise driver inattention to some extent, the dangers still exist of drivers not concentrating on what they should be doing when behind the wheel – driving.
The compact SUV segment has a range of designs from boring to brilliant with Trax sitting to the right of centre as a well-styled SUV that exudes some style. While somewhat understated compared to out-there Nissan Juke, but artistic alongside the likes of Nissan’s other small SUV, Dualis and many others in the class.
The GM Trax has styling cues that break up the boxy design with muscular treatments where they make a difference to eye appeal, namely the mudguards, bonnet and rear quarter panels. Trax has the Holden `family’ grille, which is prominent and has a shape that lends itself to an SUV.
A feature of the Trax profile is the swept roofline – a design that nears perfection on Range Rover’s Evoque SUV. The other factor that young families like are high-seating position, not just for driving, but for ease of placing priceless cargo into capsules and baby seats.
The interior of Holden Trax is basic although the layout is fine and some of the design makes it interesting – like the prominent air-conditioning vents on either side of the dash that protrude like Porsche 911 headlamps.
The dash centre is dominated by the 7-inch screen that supports the MyLink system. But, the overall feel is of cheap grey plastics, even though the design and layout is functional. The driving position delivers good viewing and no one could complain about seat comfort. The rear pew is not bad either although better suited to two adults than three.
There’s a fold down centre armrest with dual drink holders and good leg room as long as the front seat passengers aren’t overly tall.
The cargo area is usable for the weekly shopping or a couple of medium-size suitcases and the Trax has a 60/40 split rear seat that gives good versatality.
The 1.8-litre engine was first used by Holden in the model year 2014 Cruze – Holden’s small four door sedan entry-level car. The engine develops 103 kW at 6300 rpm and 175 Nm of torque at 3800 rpm. Combined fuel consumption is officially 7.6 litres/100 km from the engine with auto combination, which is exactly what we managed during our week-long test.
Holden is now including IsoFix child seat restraint anchors across all new models and the Trax gets these.
Trax comes with an Australasian NCAP five-star safety rating. Safety features include six airbags, rear view camera, rear parking sensors, stability control, ABS brakes, EBD, BA and ESP traction control.
Holden is always good at tuning its cars for Australian conditions. Some of our roads are more third-world than developed world and suspension and damping settings can make a huge difference to ride and comfort levels for passengers.
So the Trax underwent extensive testing and development for Australian roads and this shows in the ride and comfort levels, particularly over corrugated and pot-holed roads. It sits well on the roads and the suspension soaks up the hits, unlike, for example the new Nissan Juke which has suspension that is simply harsh on our worst roads.
Trax is not the quickest car in the segment. The 1.8-litre four cylinder petrol is adequate in that it had no trouble matching the traffic around it, but it will not break any speed records. The six-speed auto is a bit pedestrian between shifts and when pushed the engine noise infiltrates the cabin. When cruising the system is quiet enough.
AT A GLANCE
Trax LS 1.8-litre five-door hatch: $23,490 (manual), $25,690 (automatic)
Trax LTZ 1.8-litre five-door hatch: $27,990 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Holden dealer for driveaway prices.
ABS Brakes: Standard in both models
Automatic Transmission: Standard on LTZ, $2200 option on LS
Cruise Control: Standard in both models
Dual Front Airbags: Standard in both models
Front Side Airbags: Standard in both models
Electronic Stability Program: Standard in both models
Rear Parking Ssensors: Standard in both models
Reversing Camera: Standard in both models
USB/Auxiliary Audio inputs: Standard in both models
Bluetooth: Standard in both models
Steering wheel mounted controls: Standard in both models
SPECIFICATIONS (Holden Trax LTZ 1.8-litre five-door hatch)
Capacity: 1.796 litres
Configuration: In line four
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Bore/Stroke: 80.5 mm x 88.2 mm
Maximum Power: 103 kW @ 6300 rpm
Maximum Torque: 175 Nm @ 3800 rpm
Driven Wheels: Front
Manual Transmission: Not offered on LTZ
Automatic Transmission: Six-speed
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4278 mm
Wheelbase: 2555 mm
Width: 1776 mm
Height: 1674 mm
Turning Circle: 10.9 metres
Kerb Mass: 1371 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 53 litres
Towing Ability: 1200 kg with braked trailer
SUSPENSION AND BRAKES:
Front Suspension: MacPherson struts, coil springs
Rear Suspension: Compund crank rear axle
Front Brakes: Ventilated disc
Rear Brakes: Drum
Type: Petrol 91RON
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 7.6 L/100km
GREEN VEHICLE GUIDE RATINGS:
Greenhouse Rating: 7/10
Air Pollution Rating: 7.5/10
Three years/ 100,000 km