Holden Considering Hotter Cruze SS; How About a Chevy Version?
By Chris Haak
GM’s down-under subsidiary, Holden, is seemingly populated by car guys who get it. Not only did they create the excellent Zeta large rear wheel drive platform that underpins the Commodore, Caprice, Calais, Chinese Park Avenue, and even (in modified form) the Cadillac CTS and STS, but the crew in Australia has concocted some outrageous derivatives. The HSV-modified W427 comes to mind; it’s basically a heavily modified Pontiac G8 with the Corvette Z06’s 427 428 cubic inch 500-horsepower V8 under its hood, plus body, interior, and suspension modifications.
Granted, Holden proper didn’t concoct the W427, but you get the idea. So my ears perked up when I read an article (on LeftLaneNews, via Australia’s GoAuto) that noted how Holden was working on a higher-performance Cruze flagship, to be called the Cruze SS. SS carries similar weight in the mind of both Americans and Australians, though, so it’s not entirely clear that the rumored 1.6 liter turbo would be enough of a performance upgrade to warrant the designation. The volume engine in the US Cruze is a 1.4 liter turbo, good for just 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque, and that’s just barely enough to move the car with anything approaching alacrity.
If the Cruze were to get the 1.6T, power figures would likely match the 178 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque that the engine produces in the Opel Astra. A 30-horsepower improvement would certainly be nice, but I’m thinking more along the lines of using the 2.0T engine that had resided in the HHR SS and Cobalt SS, which produced 260 horsepower and 206 lb-ft with a prairie-flat torque curve. Now that would be worthy of the SS name, no matter what continent the car is sold on.
Could the same folks who brought us the Pontiac G8, and kept the candle of rear wheel drive performance burning, bring improved front wheel drive mainstream sedan performance to the US? I have my fingers crossed. The Cruze is too good to suffer with only two fairly-weak engine choices in North America. Let’s see what the Cruze can do with another 120 horsepower, GM.