DRIV­ING

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Big Wheels -

FEW peo­ple would as­pire to own an Epica. It’s not fun to drive like a sporty Com­modore and the new model, even with the up­dates, looks plain from the out­side and a lit­tle dated in­side.

That said, you do get a lot of car and a lot of fea­tures for your money.

The ar­rival of the diesel is a big plus for the Epica.

Though the petrol six is smooth, it is slug­gish. The new diesel is so strong that driv­ing the Epica is al­most ef­fort­less. It pulls hard from about 1800 to 2800 revs. The new au­to­matic com­ple­ments it and you hardly no­tice it chang­ing. And the diesel is noisy, but it is not the loud­est that has been tested.

In terms of fuel con­sump­tion, the claimed 7.6 litres/100km couldn’t be matched. It achieved 8.6 litres/100km.

But this diesel is not re­ally about sav­ing money, more about bet­ter per­for­mance.

Un­for­tu­nately, the Epica’s steer­ing is a dis­ap­point­ment, the prob­lem to do with the un­even power-steer­ing as­sis­tance.

You are never sure how much as­sis­tance you will get when you turn into a cor­ner and it also varies in the cor­ner, like driv­ing with a PlaySta­tion steer­ing-wheel con­troller.

This steer­ing de­fi­ciency is es­pe­cially ev­i­dent at low speeds when park­ing.

The hy­draulic as­sis­tance makes the en­gine revs rise and makes a deep groan­ing noise.

You also have to turn the wheel a lot of times to change di­rec­tion when park­ing, which doesn’t help.

The Epica holds the road well, but a firm front end means it turns in re­luc­tantly at lower speeds. It is comfortable on the open road and the dampers pro­duce a fairly com­pli­ant ride in most con­di­tions.

Prac­ti­cal­ity is a strong point of the Epica and it has a lot of space in­side.

The diesel is good value and the best Epica yet, but it falls well short of the Ford Mon­deo and Mazda6 when it comes to dy­nam­ics. Given th­ese cars are cur­rently be­ing dis­counted, it would be wise to test them and the Honda Ac­cord be­fore set­tling on the Epica.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

STRONG diesel and nice trans­mis­sion make Epica bet­ter, but steer­ing spoils the drive.

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