High-spec Holden Trax treads new path

By Liz Dobson

Holden targets bigger share of the crowded compact SUV market

The new Holden Trax includes new specs such as a sunroof.
The new Holden Trax includes new specs such as a sunroof.

Holden New Zealand is launching a top-spec version of the Trax compact SUV that it hopes will make a dent in our most popular segment.

It was initially launched with two 1.8-litre petrol models last year and priced from $32,990.

Now the company has added a 1.4-litre turbo petrol version at the cost of $36,990.

It also specced it up with new 18in alloys and a sunroof, but it's hoping that the new powertrain will bring in new buyers to a market already chocka with models.

Hyundai's ix35 dominates the compact SUV segment with twice as many sales than its nearest competition, but the second spot is the most fought over. Currently sitting in runner-up is Suzuki's new S-Cross, with Mitsubishi's ASX taking third place and the 1.8-litre Trax in fourth.

But by introducing the more powerful turbo engine that boasts 103kW of power and 200Nm of torque, Holden NZ is hoping its crossover gets some Trax-sion ... (sorry about that).

It's nearly a year since the company added the Trax to the tight crossover market that is up 53 per cent year on year.

The company said that the engine was introduced due to customer feedback, though Holden NZ's managing director, Jeff Murray, said that he would "have loved to have the 1.4-litre available at the initial launch".

But the 1.40l LTZ is now here and Murray is hopeful this is the model to push the Trax to second place.

"We have a fair chance of hitting second spot in the small SUV buyer market," said Murray.

The engine is perky and the six-speed auto moves to optimum gear quickly to now provide impressive fuel efficiency (6.4l/100km over the 1.8-litre's 7.6l).

The new Trax was also calibrated in Australia for the local road conditions - so you know it will cope with our bumper bitumen.

At the Australasian launch, it took on sedate roads including city roads from central Melbourne to the Yarra Valley's more windy appeal and back via the motorway at 110km/h to GM Holden's Port Melbourne headquarters.

The road hold was assertive, and the new engine gave an immediate response when the foot went on the accelerator.

The light steering was great for the tight inner-city roads but on the back-country roads of Yarra Valley.

I would have liked the Trax to not only have a sturdier steering wheel but produce more solid steering when driving at speed.

But given its compact category it's a foible that any owner will adjust to - and Holden New Zealand will be hoping they adjust to it over its competition.

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- NZ Herald

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