Car manufactures are always looking to push boundaries and design vehicles that capture the hearts and minds of the discerning motoring public. Concept cars quicker than ever are becoming reality, with radical in your face designs now dotting the streets. Even describing the category a car falls under is becoming problematic. Holden has entered the fray with the small Chevrolet sourced SUV inspired Trax.

Holden Trax LTZ

Holden Trax LTZ

The 10 Minute Test Drive

So you’re keen for a mini SUV that’s built around a Holden Barina platform. Interesting call, so what’s it like?

At first a surprisingly pleasant interior greets you. Quality looking plastics don’t pass the “soft touch” test but at least look the part. In LTZ spec (as tested) the leather-look “Sportec” seat trim further cushions any pre-existing doubts.

For example I’d rather sit in a Holden Trax over a Nissan Dualis or Mitsubishi ASX.

There’s the familiar GM leather wrap steering wheel to hang onto but a rather unorthodox instrument cluster sits behind. The combination of an analogue tachometer and huge digital speedometer is “left of field” but strangely appealing. It’s also from the Barina parts bin.

Holden Trax LTZ

Holden Trax LTZ

Holden’s MyLink infotainment system with all its embedded goodies sits centre stage, while a sense of unexpected space envelopes you. The roofline is very high, even for rear seat friends.

On the road it’s a fairly benign experience. Well weighted and predictable steering makes getting around a breeze. There’s only marginal lean though corners when driven sensibly, and just enough punch from up front to make the experience worthwhile. It pulls up quickly when required in spite of its old school rear drum brakes.

It’s strange looking. But so is a llama and the general consensus is they’re cute.

The Trax won’t ignite your soul, nor is it mind numbingly dull.

Ins and Outs.

Holden Trax LTZ

Holden Trax LTZ

Under the tall boxy front end sits a 1.8-litre DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder petrol engine matched to a 6-speed automatic. It’s from Holden Cruze, but the more desirable 1.4-litre turbo is not available.

103kW is reachable after some serious right foot action, 175Nm peaks at 3000rpm. At least when pushed it emits a reasonable engine note. It’s got some get up and go but requires just a little patience. Only the front wheels deliver what’s on offer.

The Holden Trax LTZ ticks many of the boxes you’d expect from a top spec model. The little SUV scores highlights such as 18″ x 7″ alloy wheels, daytime running lights, fog lights, dusk-sensing headlamps, cruise control, rear parking sensors, rear view camera, trip computer, 6-speaker MyLink infotainment system, full Bluetooth connectivity and heated front seats. However it makes do with manual air-conditioning, seats and wipers.

There’s also HIll Decent control, for when that Westfield down ramp looks impassable.

But what sets a lifestyle car like this apart from the others is MyLink.

Displayed via a brilliant 7″ colour touch-screen it includes embedded smartphone apps and features such as “Siri eyes free mode” that until now I’d yet to appreciate.

Making the effort to understand and utilise these features really pays dividends. Supported music and radio streaming apps like Pandora, Stitcher and Tunein change the way you entertain yourself during your daily commute.

Holden Trax LTZ

Holden Trax LTZ

Sure you’ll need a supported Apple iPhone, but conversing with Siri via the steering wheel mounted controls is more than a novelty. I found having her read incoming emails particularly useful.

The BringGo supported app allows android and iOS smartphones to be turned into a satellite navigation device, all displayed via the 7″ screen. Essentially this allows for an inexpensive in-car navigation option. A trial version sells for $0.99 in the App Store, with around $65 eventually needing to be forked out. The system worked perfectly fine for several destinations we headed for.

On the safety front the Trax is equipped with the usual array of air bags and stability systems, anything less these days is inexcusable.

Four bottle holders split the front seats and there’re numerous storage areas spread throughout the cabin. A handy 240v power socket in the rear of the centre console is perfect for charging lap tops.

Bragging Rights.

Holden Trax LTZ

Holden Trax LTZ

Why do blokes wear wigs? Women blatantly fake eyelashes? Why do people buy front-wheel-drive SUV’s? I guess it’s all about how it makes you feel deep within, even if it’s an illusion.

The Trax sure looks more capable to fend for itself than a typical hatch. With brutal features such as a taller stance, tough plastic wheel arch mouldings and hard core roof rails who’d dare mess with it. It can probably mount a gutter without even scraping, just frightening.

Whatever floats your boat.

The Hip Pocket.

The Holden Trax has arrived on our shores via two models. The LS ($23,490 manual or $25,690 auto) and the LTZ ($27,990 auto only). The LS is better value for money unless you really desire the extra kit.

Holden claims the Trax will drink 7.0l/100km (LS 5-speed manual) or 7.6 (LTZ auto). EFTM managed 7.9l/100km.

EFTM Rubber Stamp.

Holden Trax LTZ - earns the EFTM Credit rubber stamp

Holden Trax LTZ – earns the EFTM Credit rubber stamp

We’ve driven many cars in 2013, some simply more enjoyable than others. The Holden Trax was never a chore to hop into. If you’re after a hatchback that’s overdosed on protein shakes the Trax is definitely worth a look. It scores our EFTM Credit Stamp of Approval.