Fast lane

How does the VXR Com­modore stack up?

Albany Extra - - Motoring - Alis­tair Kennedy

We’ve re­cently re­viewed the new ZB Calais Tourer wagon and the mid-spec Com­modore RS-V Lift­back.

This week, we’re look­ing at the VXR, the per­for­mance flag­ship of the new Com­modore range, which os­ten­si­bly re­places the pre­vi­ous SS and SS-V mod­els.

How­ever, it can hardly be called an ap­ples-with-ap­ples com­par­i­son.

The new Com­modore VXR comes with a 235kW/381 Nm V6 en­gine and a nine-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and all-wheel drive.

The su­per­seded Com­modore SS had a 304kW/570 Nm V8, six-speed auto and rear-wheel drive.

The use of all-wheel drive puts the big Com­modore into the same class as pop­u­lar high-per­for­mance mod­els like the Subaru WRX and Mit­subishi Evo, even the hot Audi quat­tro vari­ants.

The hatch­back (aka Lift­back) body gives new Com­modore a sleeker and more stylish pro­file than its sedan pre­de­ces­sor.

A look that’s en­hanced in the VXR by a sports body kit, rear lip spoiler and 20-inch al­loy wheels.

Com­modore VXR is marginally smaller than the Aus­tralian-built model, its sleek styling means there is slightly less rear seat head­room.

To take their minds off this po­ten­tial is­sue pas­sen­gers in the rear do get heated seats as well as twin drinkhold­ers in the cen­tre arm­rest. Sur­pris­ingly, there aren’t any map pock­ets in the back of the front seats. Both driver and front pas­sen­gers get a me­mory func­tion in their seats to­gether with ven­ti­la­tion and mas­sage set­tings.

There are plenty of stor­age ar­eas with a large deep cen­tre-con­sole bin and gen­er­ous door bins that can hold bot­tles. The fit and fin­ish is ex­cel­lent al­beit with a bit too much hard plas­tic.

Be­cause it’s a hatch­back not a sedan, there is a sub­stan­tial larger open­ing area. This gives ac­cess to 490 litres of space with the rear 40/ 20/40 split seat­backs in place and up to 1450 litres when they’re folded. The new Com­modore range is bang up to date in terms of safety fea­tures in­clud­ing au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing and lane de­par­ture warn­ing (now es­sen­tial for a five-star ANCAP rat­ing); pedes­trian de­tec­tion brak­ing; lane keep as­sist; fol­low­ing dis­tance in­di­ca­tor; for­ward col­li­sion alert; LED day­time run­ning lights; rain­sens­ing wipers; rev­ers­ing cam­era; and front and rear park as­sist.

The 3.6-litre V6 is an up­dated ver­sion of the one pre­vi­ously fit­ted to the Aus­tralian-built Com­modore and Calais. Max­i­mum power is 235 kW at 6800 rpm with peak torque of 381 Nm at 5200 revs.

Trans­mis­sion is through a GM­sourced nine-speed au­to­matic that’s smooth and seam­less. All­wheel drive gives it a real han­dling and trac­tion ad­van­tage.

Com­modore VXR uses a dash­mounted eight-inch colour touch­screen to dis­play the Holden MyLink in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. There’s also the op­tion of Siri voice ac­ti­va­tion. Both Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto can be linked. It has DAB+ dig­i­tal ra­dio. VXR gets a Bose pre­mium au­dio sys­tem.

Smart­phones can be charged wire­lessly through a pad lo­cated at the base of the dash­board.

There are USB ports at both front and rear. Un­like a num­ber of cars that used smart­phone-based satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion Com­modore VXR uses the more user-friendly em­bed­ded sys­tem.

In line with the car’s per­for­mance cre­den­tials, the front seats have quite high and rigid seat bol­sters which, al­though power ad­justable, I found dif­fi­cult to set­tle into and cer­tainly not my choice for a long-dis­tance jour­ney. On the road, the new Ger­man-sourced ZB Com­modore was al­ways go­ing to have its work cut out in try­ing to bet­ter, the pre­vi­ous VF model. De­spite a sig­nif­i­cant level of Aus­tralian in­put by Holden en­gi­neers, it doesn’t quite get there. It’s a ca­pable enough ve­hi­cle but, not sur­pris­ingly, it lacks the grunt and driv­ing ex­cite­ment of the V8 SS.

One area that the ZB Com­modore does ex­cel is in its ride and han­dling, courtesy of its all-new Twin­ster’ adap­tive All-Wheel Drive sys­tem. Of­fi­cial fuel con­sump­tion is listed at 9.3L/100km.

In our test­ing, we were al­most able to match that fig­ure when cruis­ing on the mo­tor­ways, but av­er­aged just under 12.0L/100km around the sub­urbs.

Many rusted-on Holden fans will no doubt frown upon this new Com­modore from Ger­many but if they look at it with an open mind, they would see a high-qual­ity Euro­pean car packed with equip­ment at a very rea­son­able price.

The new Lift­back body adds style while the all-wheel drive sys­tem in V6 mod­els makes it safer than ever.

The King is dead, long live the King.

Your lo­cal Holden dealer is Al­bany City Motors, 9842 8000.

Both driver and front pas­sen­gers get a me­mory func­tion in their seats to­gether with ven­ti­la­tion and mas­sage set­tings.

Pic­tures: Mar­que Mo­tor­ing

Its hatch­back body gives the new Holden Com­modore VXR a sleek and stylish look.

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