In Australia, the SS badge has a special meaning to Holden owners. Its most frequently associated with the Commodore large car and to a lesser extent, the ultra-rare Torana SS of the 1970s. It’s all about big Aussie V8’s and rear-wheel-drive. It’s as Australian as Fosters beer and Four’N Twenty pies.
So now, there’s talk of a performance version of the Cruze small car in the works - and insidious rumors this front-wheel-drive econobox may carry the prestigious double ‘S’ moniker previously reserved only for V8 models. “Sacrilege!” you scream, and I’m more than willing to agree. Nevertheless, let’s push on and see what the Australian rumor mill has in store for us.
It’s possible a high performance version of the Cruze would use the same 132 kW, / 180HP and 230 Nm 1.6-liter turbo four from the European Vauxhall / Opel Astra as there drivetrains are readily interchangeable thanks to both using the GM’s Delta II architecture.
In the words of an unnamed Holden insider:
“We are investigating all possibilities. We would love to explore a performance version. It is obviously on our wish list. Every engine option available in the Astra is under review.”
A firmer and lower suspension setup and weightier electronic power steering are also on the cars, and are likely to be gradually phased into the rest of the Cruze range as time goes on. Holden’s insider continues:
“We just did not have the resources to develop (revised) suspension and steering for the SRi models. But watch this space.”
A HSV badged model, potentially using the upcoming Opel Astra OPC’s 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbo four is also a possibility, however unlikely.
Expect a late 2011 launch for the Cruze “SS” if it makes production. It’s all part of Holden’s plan to overtake the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3 as leaders of the Aussie small car market.
At the moment it’s in third place between the Corolla and the Hyundai i30. Deliveries of the Cruze Series II sedan begin in April, with the hatchback expected to follow in October.
By Tristan Hankins