QUESTION: Last weekend on Radio 2UE in Sydney I heard you say something about the Holden Cruze but missed the detail (half sleep). Would you just tell me what the issues/design faults are with the (2013/latest) Cruze as I am looking at a 2013 Sri-V petrol auto? Thanks, Nick.
Here's a kind of automotive intelligence test. Pick which one of the following six images does not fit in:
The correct answer is number 4, because it is a cat. The other four are dogs. (Although I admit number five was tricky. The only one wearing glasses.)
Why the Holden Cruze Barks
The there is an overload of evidence that the Holden Cruze is one of the worst-engineered cars in Australia. Holden has an appalling record for quality, and has had for years. This confidential ACNeilsen research was leaked to the press, which pretty much sets the scene.
The Cruze is a globally engineered car that basically hasn't changed (in engineering fundamentals) since it was first introduced. That means it kicked off here as a hastily re-badged Daewoo, and now (since Q1 2011) is a hastily re-badged Daewoo assembled with 60 per cent imported components by a factory busily losing hundreds of millions of dollars annually outside Adelaide, by a company owned by a company that went bankrupt in the GFC, which has had essentially no resources to expend in R&D for four years.
Holden's core business is not the building of cars, it is importing cars and begging the government for unjustifiable taxpayer-funded donations - with no strings attached.
The Defects We Know About
- In 2010, 10,462 Cruze were recalled because of a potential fire risk arising from a defective fuel hose.
- In 2011, 4236 Cruze were recalled because the rear seatbelts weren't assembled properly. And, just for fun, 6512 diesel Cruze were recalled because of another fuel system engineering defect that could cause a vehicle fire.
- Then in 2012 an unspecified number of locally built Cruze 1.4 turbo petrol cars were recalled because of yet another engineering defect that could see them catch fire. That was probably a big recall, because the VIN range covered 23,616 vehicles in the 2012 model year and 1673 in the 2013 model year.
- And then, just to ice off the cake, this year an unspecified number of Cruzes with 1.8-litre engine and manual transmission were recalled because the right-hand tubular driveshaft could fracture without warning. Yet another engineering defect.
The Cruze platform has had numerous similar recalls around the world.
These are just the official product safety recalls that are required to be listed on the Federal Government's ACCC website. Many more Cruze defects that aren't safety related, but are very annoying, are dealt with in the absence of official notification. About the only car that's had more safety recalls in that time is the Holden Commodore VE.
As an engineer, what this tells me is that this car is badly engineered, and it has not been fixed. It's built by a company that has no great commitment to quality right around the world. The evidence speaks for itself.
It's not acceptable to build cars with seatbelts that might not restrain you in a crash, with design defects that can burn them to the ground, with powertrain components that could fail and then steer you into a tree or other obstacle. It's a disgrace.
Anecdotally, I distinctly remember standing in the Palazzo Versace hotel in the Gold Coast with a bunch of car dealers at an industry function (think: hell on earth) overhearing those with a Holden franchise bitch and moan about Cruze reliability.
For contrast, there has never been a product safety recall for Hyundai's i30, and since 2007 there was only one for Corolla (a power window switch that might start feeling sticky) - I think we could forgive them for that, seeing as it won't cause you to crash, burn or die. These cars are direct competitors to the Holden Cruze.
Why buy a car that is drowning in evidence - a tsunami thereof - that it is badly engineered, when there are so many alternative well built cars available? An i30, Corolla, or Mazda3 are all substantially better built and either identical or better than the Cruze on objective comparative criteria.
The Cruze is a dog with fleas. And even the fleas have fleas. Don't buy it. It's an engineering disgrace.
Buy a Mazda3, a Toyota Corolla or a Hyundai i30 instead. Or fill in my contact form for advice >>