Big car, lit­tle new

Up­dates are mi­nor but the VEII may be for you, writes Paul Gover

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test -

WE’RE back with Aus­tralia’s best-sell­ing car this week. Not quite, maybe, be­cause the car in the cars-Guide garage is a Calais, but it’s still part of the Com­modore fam­ily and a sub­ject of the lat­est VEII up­grade.

It takes a bit to see the changes in the VEII, un­til you sit in­side, but it’s a worth­while range of up­dates as Holden spreads its fo­cus be­tween to­day’s show­room hero and the Cruze hatch about to go into lo­cal pro­duc­tion for sales in 2011.

The big news on VEII is E85 bio-ethanol en­gines, the next stage in the green­ing of Aus­tralia’s lo­cally-made cars.

We al­ready have the Camry Hy­brid, and Ford is head­ing to­wards a four-cylin­der Fal­con in 2011, but this is Holden’s first ef­fort be­fore things like hy­brids and a lo­cal ver­sion of the range-ex­tended, bat­tery-pow­ered Volt.

Value

THE bot­tom line on the VEII is the same as al­ways: a big car for a value price.

Holden has even held the ba­sic price line at $39,990 de­spite the cost of the lat­est changes, and boosted value — mostly with the new 6.5-inch colour touch-screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem — across the range.

It’s hard to eval­u­ate the biggest value change at present, be­cause the cheaper E85 fuel used in the new Holden is not widely avail­able. It’s more than 30 cents a litre cheaper than pre­mium un­leaded but will be hard to find un­til Cal­tex delivers on its prom­ise of 100-plus E85 sta­tions.

Even then, E85 fuel burns faster than un­leaded gaso­line and that means econ­omy will be down and range will also be cut.

But the en­gine changes have made the pow­er­plants more eco­nom­i­cal on un­leaded fuel — and that’s a good move.

Technology

THERE is a lot of technology in­volved in the move to E85, but it’s mostly hid­den and ir­rel­e­vant to Com­modore own­ers.

It doesn’t make the car safer or nicer, it just al­lows the flex-fuel ca­pa­bil­ity.

But it is re­flected in bet­ter emis­sions per­for­mance and a lit­tle more power for the 3-litre V6 and 5-litre V8, with the mid-range V6 sched­uled for its tweaks some­time in 2011.

The real im­prove­ments are in the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, which is a huge leap for­ward and even pre­sented in an eas­ier-to-use dash­board lay­out that puts the colour screen up higher in the dash.

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