These days, any vehicle company worth its salt offers a tiny crossover vehicle often based on a light-car platform.
Based on the Barina hatch, the high-riding Trax combines urban-centred everyday practicality with the promise of adventure outside the city limits. And while there is no four-wheel-drive system, it certainly has the look and ride height of an off-road SUV and our test-drive revealed it has plenty of other strong points in its favour too.
Picking up the Holden Trax from Ebbett Tauranga - Holden for this week’s photo shoot and test drive, it was literally bucketing down and we were scratching our heads for somewhere dry enough to take a few snaps. A quick phone call to a mate of mine Luke McGruer from Mount Crossfit and we had 30 minutes access to his gym on Newton Rd before his noon class started.
On the way there the rain did not ease up – and this is where I believe the list of safety features on the Holden Trax comes into its own. For starters the extra height of the vehicle just seemed to lift us up above the other cars on the road, giving us great visibility it the wet conditions. Add to this the peace of mind of having Electronic Stability Control incorporating Anti-lock braking, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Brake Assist, six airbags, Blind Spot Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and it is easy to see why this vehicle has a five-Star ANCAP Safety Rating.
Arriving at Crossfit, Luke and his partner Jani were pretty impressed also and only too happy to oblige in setting up for our photo shoot. Some of their members were having personal training sessions but were clearly distracted by the Trax’s good looks, coming over to check it out and quiz us about pricing – and all were pleasantly surprised.
One of the most positive aspects of the Trax is its interior design and layout. Deep front and side windows help instill airiness, aided by lofty seating on firm-yet-supportive front chairs, as well as large face-level air vents pointing right at you.
Though narrow like a Barina, the amount of cabin space is ample for four adults while an attractive steering wheel that tilts and telescopes encourages a happy driving position. Paired with the Holden-patented MyLink system, it offers audio, telephone, video, and downloadable smartphone app links with internet music providers Stitcher, Pandora, and TuneIn. Each door contains no less than three storage spots, with windows that wind all the way down.
“Our Doberman Maddox would appreciate those,” said Jani. From a utility point of view, the Trax holds an ace with cushions that tilt forward so the split/fold backrest can drop down with maximum effect. There are child-seat anchorage points immediately behind the rear bench so load space isn’t compromised, while the cargo floor is sufficiently low despite having a full-sized spare wheel residing underneath.
Plenty of muscle
Dealer Principal Julian Clements says Holden worked for almost two years to calibrate the drivetrain to suit local conditions – and he wasn’t exaggerating. The Trax’s 1.4-litre turbo charged four-cylinder petrol powered Ecotec engine was really impressive producing 103kW of power at 4900rpm.
From take-off there was no hint of turbo lag – and once up and running, the Holden’s neat little engine really kicks into gear thanks to a flat torque curve that hits its peak at 1850rpm and can stay there to 4900rpm. Paired with a with a six-speed automatic transmission with Active Select – a button on a gear lever that allows convenient driver control of the gear selection on demand – the Holden Trax was like a Barina on steroids. The steering is another of the Trax’s best aspects, providing ample lightness at low speeds for easy manoeuvrability, aided by a tight turning circle, yet with a pleasing amount of response, weight and feel at higher velocities. Coupled with a sturdy and stable chassis, the Holden handles corners with pleasing agility and control and even maintains its composure over rough surfaces, only skipping slightly over a loose unsealed road we ran it over on our way back to the dealership.
This is a fantastic vehicle for anyone wanting power and fuel economy in an SUV-style package. While Luke test drove the more feminine-looking Burning Hot Orange model for us, he was relieved to hear there are more manly colours available like Nitrate Silver, Boracay Blue and my personal favorite ‘Son of a Gun Grey’.
And while the sub-sized SUV segment of the market is pretty crowded, we reckon the Holden Trax has definitely got what it takes to stand out. It is well packaged, offers a solid standard features list and up-to-date connectivity. And in our opinion, she’s a bit of a looker too – but the engine in the Trax is undoubtedly the star of the show. A must test-drive for mums, professionals, retirees and Crossfit instructors.
Highlighted Specs as standard
• 1.4L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder iTi petrol engine
• Six-speed automatic transmission with Active Select
• 18-inch Alloy Wheels
• Rear parking sensors and rear view camera
• Heated front seats
• Holden MyLink infotainment system with 7 inch colour touchscreen
• Phone projection featuring Apple Car Play and Android Auto
Dealer: Ebbett Tauranga – Holden,
123 Cameron Rd, Tauranga. Ph: 07 578 2843.
Photo shoot location kindly supplied by Mount Crossfit –
109 Newton St, Mount Maunganui. Ph: 027 335 6671.