Holden’s high iQ
The new Commodore is now even more appealing, writes Paul Gover
THERE is more to the latest Commodore than bio-ethanol in the tank. You have to dig a bit, but when you do the detail of the VE Series II emerges and the car is confirmed as a worthwhile improvement.
The cabin is now lighter and nicer, with the excellent Holden iQ system, there is some minor cosmetic tweaking, some improvements to driveability and refinement, and there is the Redline punch at the top end.
A first look at the VEII is not particularly inspiring, but when you drive the range you can see and feel the sort of work that makes any car more enjoyable.
There is also the promise of improved economy when running on unleaded fuel.
GM Holden denies it has gone soft on the VEII by avoiding costly sheet-metal changes, and also trumpets its leadership on E85 fuel and a partnership with Caltex, which should bring the fuel to most Australians from next year.
Holden chairman Mike Devereux says: ‘‘This is a typical four-year update. You don’t normally touch the sheet metal at this stage.
‘‘We’re very proud and happy of the work we’ve done. The E85 program was not cheap.’’
The development work has already paid off with 600 Commodore exports to Brazil, and a 1500-2000 a year continuing link, and Devereux says bio-ethanol will bring fleet buyers to the car as well as delivering a customer benefit.
We’re very proud and happy of the work we’ve done. The E85 program was not cheap.
But he’s quiet on the actual drop in economy and cruising range, which is about 25 per cent on E85.
‘‘Our customers have been telling us they want to see our models refreshed with greater functionality. We have listened and responded in a way that continues to position Commodore as the smart choice for Australian motorists,’’ Devereux says.
NO ONE can complain about a major upgrade with a zero price rise.
Holden has deliberately held the price line with the VEII as it pushes the value bonus in the car, starting with the iQ system.
It’s even held the Redline Series package at a reasonable $2500, which is good value just for the upgraded Brembo brakes, which fast drivers have always wanted for their 6-litre V8s.
THE E85 engine work is much more than just switching to a different pump at the petrol station.
There are sensors and fuel lines, different engine components and the huge work on tuning and durability testing.
Holden admits its 3-litre six and 6-litre V8 lose about 25 per cent on economy and range— the 3.6 does not go E85 until next year — but says bio-ethanol has more punch in every litre and that means improved torque in the rev range of everyday driving.
The unleaded effort yields a V6 economy boost of 2.8 per cent with 6.0 per cent on the V8, using everything from plastic aero panels under the car to a new boot lid with a small spoiler, a clutched airconditioning compressor and a reduction in engine idle speed on the 3.6 V6.
Inside the technology is all about Holden iQ It incorporates everything from satnav with real-time traffic alerts — free for the life of the vehicle, though owners will pay for updated maps — to a hard-drive sound system that can rip-and-store up to 15 CDs.
It’s a touchscreen system that is also linked to Bluetooth and steps up for SS/Calais/Caprice with voice guidance, intuitive controls and a live speed limit alert system.
HOLDEN fans will notice the changes to the exterior, but the VEII blends into traffic, unless the car is painted in this year’s hero colour, an electric yellow called Hazard.
The detail runs to a new front fascia, grille and headlamps, but the only sheet-metal change is the new boot. All models above the Berlina get new alloys.
It’s a different story inside. Though the cheapie window switches survive in the console, the centre area of the dash is all new.
The iQ system sits higher than the previous sound systems, the airconditioning controls are new, there are lighter colours and the general effect is more open and modern.
THERE’S nothing to report, but that’s fine because the Commodore is already a five-star ANCAP winner.
Big changes will not happen until the next total overhaul of the car because Volvo-style predictive safety systems will need a complete wiring and computer upgrade.
HOLDEN fills all the tanks at the VEII press preview with E85, not that anyone can tell.
Perhaps there is a little more mid-range punch around town and for overtaking, but it would take a back-to-back run to confirm it. And there is no chance on this day in and around Adelaide.
The big tick goes to the dash changes and the iQ system, which is exactly the sort of thing that will bring ordinary Aussies into Holden showrooms.
And then the E85 — with the promise of a
Frontrunner: the Commodore VE Series II, including the SSV sedan (above), has a new fascia, grille and headlamps, but the only sheet-metal change is the new boot.