With the loss of local manufacturing, GM-Holden is essentially now no different to any other car retailer in Australia, and that mean a possible end to those ties to the brand.
Enter the rather nice-looking mid-sized Holden Equinox, frankly, never has a vehicle been so important for an auto maker.
Two engines are now offer – the entry-level variant gets a 127kW/275Nm 1.5 litre turbo-petrol, available with either six-speed manual, or six-speed auto transmissions.
The Holden Equinox LS+ and above gets the larger 2.0 litre turbo-petrol engine found in the new fully-imported Holden Commodore.
Producing 188kW/353Nm, the engine will come mated exclusively to a nine-speed auto transmission.
A turbo-diesel is also being promised for next year.
All models have Holden MyLink with Apple CarPlay, and Active Noise Cancellation. The latter is a feature once only available in luxury Euros. CarPlay is a must for anyone under 70.
How does it drive?
I gave three model grades a go and must say that the new Equinox is one of the most refreshing drives I’ve had in a long time.
Suspension is tuned slightly differently in each, and is unique to Australia. The ride in both feels smooth, and bumps are soaked up far better than a small car has any right to.
Steering tuning makes a decent fist of imitating road feel.
The rack mounted electric motor has also be calibrated for local conditions, and unlike overseas models, both suspension and steering are tuned for summer tyres only.
The tyres let remarkably little noise into the cabin, with only the most appalling surface eliciting a peep.
There is no active cruise control which seems to be a strange omission as this is available on cheaper models in other brands.
All controls are easy to locate and operate.
Menus via the main LCD touch screen have been kept simple and easy to understand for the most part. DAB, AM and FM stations can be stored on presets, but is a slightly fiddly process.
Full handsfree uses “Hey Siri” when in range.
The driver can choose either the car’s voice control, or Siri, via the voice control button on the steering wheel.
The GM In-house developed nine-speed auto feels both flexible and solid. The changes were mostly imperceptible.
It locks up from second gear meaning the torque converter won’t allow slippage between the engine and the drive shaft.
This improves fuel consumption.
You can manually shift gears using the little plus/minus button on the top of the selector knob, since the steering wheel is sans paddles.
Also improving fuel figures, is the fact the AWD models can isolate the rear wheels from the drive system. Then, only the front wheels do the work. The driver cannot select any other mode other than front, or AWD.
There are no drive modes either, as the suspension tuning is fixed.
The reversing camera, and self-parking, display in the centre LCD, and objects which come too close will make the driver’s seat vibrate.
If you play your cards right, reversing becomes a very relaxing experience.
The Haptic driver’s seat, which vibrates warning messages for some functions, is incredibly useful. Holden’s effort to remove some of the noise pollution works well.
The active noise cancelling works only on drive-train tones, and that also works extremely well. Mics detect engine, transmission, and exhaust noises, then play back the opposite wave via the speakers.
Detecting any other wavelengths might have undesired results. A slightly frightening prospect.
Holden claims the Equinox drives like a car, and they’re mostly right, this is not an off-roading vehicle – it is a city car.
The difference between the entry and top models of Equinox is $20,000, which is way too much.
But Equinox shows a huge step forward in finish and design and is light years ahead of the tired and tatty Captiva not only in look and feel, but also in equipment and handling.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2018 Holden Equinox
- Engines: 127kW/275Nm 1.5 litre turbo-petrol or 188kW/353Nm 2.0 litre turbo-petrol
- Transmissions: Six-speed manual/six-speed auto – 1.5, nine-speed auto – 2.0
- Safety: Not tested
- Warranty: 7yrs/175,000km (until end of December), then 3yrs/100,000km
- Origin: Mexico
- Price: from $27,990