IT'S no secret that the Mazda3 is Australia's best selling car.
But it must really irk Holden that its Cruze can only muster sixth, even after four years of sales.
Determined to redress the situation, Holden has just completed a major revamp of the car, with the addition of a sportier, more powerful turbo, along with a new reworked automatic and completely revised suspension settings, all of which it hopes will turn around the car's fortunes.
Of more interest to some will be the fact that it's cut the price of the entry level Equipe model by $2000 to just $19,490 before on-road costs.
Cruze has outsold the Commodore a number of times over the past 12 months. Cruze is now built right here in Australia, apart from the recently introduced wagon which still comes out of South Korea.
The sedan and hatch are priced the same, but the wagon remains up to $4850 more with the possibility that they will be joined soon by a compact four-wheel drive based on the same platform.
The $19,490 Equipe replaces the $21,490 CD, with the addition of foglights, a sports grille, 17-inch alloys and rear parking sensors. The CDX adds keyless entry, push button start and a reversing camera. The SRi gets reverse parking sensors, while the top of the range SRi-V gets a reversing camera, too.
The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, because none of the new models gets voice control or satellite navigation, both of which were offered previously.
Voice control will not be missed because it never worked properly in the first place and the engineers are having another look at the system with a view to re-introducing mid-year.
Satellite navigation will be reintroduced at the same time and it will be the same system as in the new VF Commodore which is due for launch in June.
It looks almost exactly the same apart from the sports grille and lower rear bumper on some models.
In other news, Cruze becomes the first locally built car to get Holden's new MyLink premium infotainment system.
Standard across the range, MyLink features a seven-inch colour touch-screen that combines audio and other settings.
It also includes an app for the Pandora internet-based radio service; the catch is you need a phone with a data plan to stream it – the car doesn't do it by itself.
In effect Holden has created two model streams for the Cruze: comfort and harder-edged sport, with entry and premium models in each category.
VERDICT: Not bad. The car rides and handles appreciably better, but whether the changes are lost on buyers remains to be seen. What they will certainly like is the cut in prices and the extra kit.