It moves in mysterious ways

Not all Trax chassis are created equal – or are they?

ASH WESTERMAN

GREAT mysteries of the world tend to irk me, rather than fascinate me. I don’t want intrigue, dammit, I want answers. How is it, for example, that we can land a vehicle on a red planet some 230 million kilometres away in space, and yet we can’t ascertain for sure how the Egyptians knocked up the pyramids a mere 4500 years ago?

To this I can add another great mystery, one of the automotive world. How is it that this Trax Turbo rides with more compliance – which is to say, marginally less offensively – than my previous blue atmo jigger?

The moment I collected the silver LTZ 1.4T, the difference in its bump absorption abilities was obvious. Sharp-edged potholes didn’t clang with the viciousness they did in the 1.8; bitumen ripples were better blotted up. Yes, it was subtle, but noticeable. I jumped out at the first set of lights to double-check the tyres. Yep, the same 18-inch Continentals. Pressures placard correct.

Surely, then, the suspension calibration has been eased back by Holden’s chassis team. Perhaps the 1.4-litre turbo engine is lighter than the atmo 1.8, I pondered, and less front-end stiffness is needed to control the heavy end of the car. Maybe. Or perhaps a class action had been initiated by existing customers who’d had their pelvises reduced to powder by the atmo 1.8’s crashy ride.

Yes, this was a mystery of Giza proportions, and I was excited to solve it.

I sent an email to Holden’s PR man, detailing my findings. What had been changed? Was it an easing of the spring rates? Maybe the specification of a lighter damper oil to be used by the suspension supplier? Or even just a polite request to stop filling the damn things with concrete?

A reply arrived. I clicked ‘open’ with the fizzing anticipation that Howard Carter must have felt when he first cracked open the tomb of Tutankhamun and unlocked the secrets of the pharaohs.

The message read: ‘Ash, there are no changes in suspension calibration between Trax turbo and atmo models.” Oh, and this: “PS: And stop complaining about the ride or we’ll take the bloody thing back from you.”

I was both perplexed and crestfallen.

Surely I couldn’t be mistaken. I like to think of my arse as a testing instrument that’s been honed (and enlarged) over several decades of car assessment, and I was sure it was not faulty. Still, I started to doubt myself. Was the superior turbo powertrain just making the whole driving experience more enjoyable, and fooling my addled brain?

Later, unprompted from the passenger’s seat, my girlfriend (who knows as much about ride compliance as I do about the Higgs boson) commented: “I like this silver one better. It’s less bumpy and uncomfortable than the blue one.”

I pulled over to hug her, while silently declaring a pharaoh’s curse on unsolvable automotive mysteries.

TURN IT UP

Holden reckons Ash’s arse is on the blink, but he’s certain the Trax LTZ turbo rides better than the atmo one

HOLDEN TRAX LTZ 1.4 TURBO

Date acquired: December 2014 Price as tested: $ 30,540 This month: 703km @ 10.3L/100km Overall: 1372km @ 10.2L/100km De 703k

Suck it up, princess

THE downsizing and turbocharging revolution was meant to be all about cutting fuel consumption and exhaust emissions, but it seems the Holden Trax Turbo missed that particular memo.

Despite this month’s kilometres coming during the less traffic-dense holiday period, and with a concerted light foot wherever possible, its thirst grew by 0.2L/100km. Am I the only one who thinks 10.3L/100km is absurdly high for a sub-compact SUV?