Omega a dual-fuel gas

Holden is help­ing tradies cut their bills, writes GRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

THE dual-fuel VE Omega ute of­fers trades­men the chance to cut their fuel bills, but still de­liv­ers ev­ery­thing its petrol-suck­ing Holden cousin does.

In­stead of fol­low­ing the Ford path and mak­ing its LPG-fu­elled ute a ded­i­cated gas model, Holden has cho­sen to stick with tra­di­tion and go with dual-fuel.

Holden has, how­ever, used a state-of-the-art gas-in­jec­tion sys­tem in­stead of em­ploy­ing the older tech­nol­ogy Ford has on its E-Gas en­gine.

Holden’s sys­tem is a well­re­spected gas-in­jec­tion unit de­signed and de­vel­oped by Impco.

At first sight there is lit­tle to dis­tin­guish the dual-fuel Omega ute from the reg­u­lar model. If it wasn’t for the sticker on the rego plates, no one would ever know it runs LPG as well as petrol.

It’s only when you dig a lit­tle deeper that you find the LPG filler tucked away neatly un­der the reg­u­lar flap along­side the fuel filler. A fuel sys­tem switch and LPG level in­di­ca­tor are in­te­grated into the cen­tre con­sole.

The smooth in­te­gra­tion of the LPG sys­tem is even more ev­i­dent on the road, where the Omega ute drives and per­forms equally well on LPG as it does on un­leaded.

When driven on LPG the sys­tem is con­fig­ured so the en­gine starts on petrol and switches over to LPG af­ter a few sec­onds, so there’s none of the ex­tended crank­ing times that oc­cur when the en­gine is started on LPG.

The switchover is smooth and the driver won’t be aware it’s hap­pen­ing un­less they are watch­ing the sys­tem in­di­ca­tor in the cen­tre con­sole. A coloured light shows which sys­tem is in use at any time.

The in­di­ca­tor also in­cludes a se­ries of lights to in­di­cate the level of LPG in the 73-litre tank just be­hind the Omega’s cabin.

Should the level fall to empty, the sys­tem will au­to­mat­i­cally switch to petrol, so there’s no in­ter­rup­tion to driv­ing.

On the road the dual-fuel Omega drives smoothly with none of the stalling, surg­ing, or back­fir­ing com­mon in the past with cars run­ning on LPG.

There’s also no feel­ing of a loss of per­for­mance from the 3.6-litre Al­loytec V6 en­gine. The re­sponse to the throt­tle is fast and spir­ited.

Holden says the dual-fuel V6 puts out 175kW at 6500 revs and 318Nm at 2400 revs when work­ing at its peaks, down from the 180kW at 6000 revs and 330Nm at 2600 revs it de­liv­ers in petrolonly form.

As with the reg­u­lar Omega, the only choice of trans­mis­sion in the dual-fuel ute is a five-speed auto, which shifts smoothly and works well, with no ob­vi­ous glitches.

By go­ing to the gas-in­jec­tion sys­tem, Holden has been able to use the full ca­pa­bil­ity of the dy­namic sta­bil­ity con­trol, which is stan­dard on the dual-fuel ute as it is on the petrol model.

Sta­bil­ity con­trol is only one of the safety sys­tems that come stan­dard. Oth­ers in­clude anti-skid brakes, elec­tronic brake­force dis­tri­bu­tion for op­ti­mum brak­ing, elec­tronic brake as­sist in emer­gency stops, and trac­tion con­trol.

As with the reg­u­lar ute, the dual-fuel model rides and han­dles well, steers with pre­ci­sion and stops with as­sur­ance.

Over the time big­wheels had the Omega ute it re­turned 13.29 litres per 100km on LPG in a mix of town, coun­try and free­way driv­ing, whereas a pre­vi­ous sim­i­lar test of a petrol ute had it do­ing 12.5 litres/100km.

Us­ing those fig­ures, and the prices of reg­u­lar un­leaded and LPG at the time of the test on the dual-fuel ute, it would cost $152 for 1000km on reg­u­lar un­leaded, $64 for the same dis­tance on LPG.

Big work­load: the dual-fuel VE Omega rides and han­dles well, steers with pre­ci­sion and stops with as­sur­ance.

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