Big car, little new
Updates are minor but the VEII may be for you, writes Paul Gover
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.
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.
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.