NOT so long ago things were simple. We loved football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars.
Nowadays there are four kinds of football, pies are being filled with all sorts of healthy stuff that doesn't even resemble meat, we're eating our prized mascot and there are now more than 60 marques for sale Down Under.
Holden is no longer number one on Australians' automotive shopping lists, and in a couple of years all of its cars will be imported from the General Motors stable.
But the Holden brand still maintains a strong foundation in Australia and there are lofty plans to bring it back into sales pole position.
Over recent months we've seen a swag of good cars with some awesome extras thrown into the mix which deservedly attract attention.
Among them has been the Cruze sedan, and we sampled the base model Z-Series that is currently available for a very sharp $22,990 drive-away.
Small in stature doesn't necessarily translate inside.
The Cruze is a 'super small' car, and the sedan offers four adults impressive comfort. Three adults can fit across the bench seat although that's best left to short journeys.
Getting some excellent equipment at this price point, like the leather trimmed pews and colour touch-screen, the Cruze presents as good value.
Inoffensive plastics are used across the dash, console and doors, with the leather trimmed gear lever, park brake and steering wheel providing refined touch points. A brushed aluminium look console finish helps break up an otherwise dark cabin.
All seats have reasonable support in the right spots, and the driver has basic analogue guards which are simple to read in the three ring cluster. There is a handy digital trip computer which can be changed to feature a speedo for ease of use.
On the road
Reliable and honest, the 1.8-litre four-cylinder doesn't feed those with a need for speed.
Around town and on the highway it does the job reasonably well, but we were calling for the whip on several occasions up some steep inclines. You have to work it up into the rev range and pluck low gears on hilly terrain, but it will work when set to task.
Another cog would be handy when pushing the national speed limit, as it hovers around 3100rpm at 110kmh.
Steering is light, which makes it a useful performer in tight car parks and around town.
The Z-Series gains some nice gear over the base model Equipe, including the leather-appointed seats (front pews are heated), reverse camera, rear parking sensors, push-button start, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, the colour touch-screen with Holden's MyLink system, which features cool apps for access to internet podcasts and music like Pandora and Stitcher, cruise control and five-star safety.
It's a busy genre, but also worth a look are the Ford Focus Trend ($24,590), Hyundai Elantra Elite ($26,840), Kia Cerato S Premium ($24,590), Mazda3 Touring ($25,490), Toyota Corolla SX ($22,990), Nissan Pulsar ST-L ($23,690), Subaru Impreza ($23,990 drive-away) and the Mitsubishi Lancer LS ($20,990).
We achieved just under eight litres for every 100km, which was primarily using the cheaper E10 unleaded.
Holden has an excellent dealer network, a strong warranty, along with capped-price servicing which is at the lower end of the expense scale.
Small sedans aren't the sexiest of offerings out there, with most gravitating towards hatches. Interestingly, in some countries sedans are a sign of opulence and they can't give hatches away.
The Z-Series does come with 17-inch alloys which adds some external appeal, along with a small rear lip spoiler.
With the rear seats folded, we easily slotted in a road bike without removing any wheels. A weekend away also saw the boot swallow three suitcases and a range of other bags with extra room to fill.
However, it does have a sealant kit with compressor in case of a flat (a space saver is optional), so there is no full-size spare.
Storage options are plentiful, with a pair of cup holders in both the front and back, there are pockets in each door also able to cater for a bottle, the console features a USB and auxiliary jack, while there are two 12-volt plugs.
Holden has a solid offering with the Cruze.
Spacious and well appointed, as a package there is a lot to like.
This Z-Series is only available in sedan guise, with the SRi Z-Series hatch coming with a reasonable jump in price.
While the four-cylinder engine won't have you ripping up the bitumen, it's a good all-round performer which is cheap to run at the bowser and maintain via capped-price servicing.
What matters most
What we liked: Internal space, boot volume, impressive features for this price point.
What we'd like to see: Some extra oomph, six speed manual box.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year/100,000km warranty. Capped-price servicing for the first three years or 60,000km. $185. Servicing intervals are every 15,000km or nine months (first service after three months in free).
Model: Holden Cruze Z-Series Sedan.
Details: Four-door small front-wheel drive sedan.
Engine: 1.8-litre four-cylinder generating maximum power of 104kW @ 6300rpm and peak torque of 175Nm @ 3800 rpm.
Transmission: Five-speed manual (as tested) or six-speed automatic.
Consumption: 7.0 litres/100km (manual, combined average); 7.4L/100km (a).
CO2: 165g/km (m); 176g/km (a).
Bottom line plus on-roads: $22,390.