Epica’s epic tale

This tweaked Asian im­port had a big hole to fill, writes Gra­ham Smith

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Cars -

THE Epica was one of the new gen­er­a­tion of small and mid­sized cars that Holden im­ported from Asia to re­place its ex­pen­sive Euro­pean range. Specif­i­cally it re­placed the mid-sized Vectra.

The Vectra was well re­garded for its re­spon­sive per­for­mance, but it was a pre­mium prod­uct with a pre­mium price and never re­ally got go­ing. It wasn’t sur­pris­ing that Holden turned to South Korea for a cheaper re­place­ment.

By adopt­ing the Epica, Holden be­came more price com­pet­i­tive in a mar­ket seg­ment that was grow­ing as buy­ers downsized out of big­ger cars, such as the Com­modore and the Ford Fal­con.

Model watch

GIVEN that the Vectra was a pre­mium Euro­pean model with all the technology and fea­tures ex­pected of a car from that part of the world, Holden’s de­ci­sion to re­place it with the South Korean-built Epica seemed some­thing of a step back­wards.

But it wasn’t as bad as feared once Holden’s en­gi­neers had fin­ished tweak­ing it to en­sure it was in tune with Aus­tralian de­mands.

Lo­cal en­gi­neers played a hand in the sus­pen­sion set­tings, trans­mis­sion con­trols and equip­ment. It was also given a cos­metic makeover by Holden de­sign­ers so there was noth­ing that jarred when it landed here.

The re­sult was that it had an ap­peal­ing look and was packed with plenty of the fea­tures Aus­tralian buy­ers wanted.

In­side, the cabin was roomy and com­fort­able with ac­com­mo­da­tion for three adults across the back seat, and be­yond that there was a good-sized boot.

Two en­gines were of­fered, both six­cylin­der units, and there were two mod­els, the CDX and CDXi.

Porsche de­signed the dou­ble over­head camshaft straight-six en­gine.

In its smaller 2.0-litre form it put out 105kW at 6400 revs and 195Nm at 2600 revs, while the big­ger 2.5-litre pro­duced 115kW at 5800 revs and 237Nm at 2600 revs.

The 2.5-litre en­gine was the pick of the pair.

Its per­for­mance wasn’t breath­tak­ing by any mea­sure, but it was smooth and steady while the 2.0-litre sim­ply lacked spark. The CDX was avail­able with ei­ther the 2.0 or 2.5-litre en­gine; the 2.0-litre came with a five-speed man­ual gear­box and the 2.5-litre with a five-speed auto. Those who chose the bet­ter-equipped CDXi got the 2.5-litre en­gine and five-speed auto as a mat­ter of course.

Any­one opt­ing for the 2.5-litre auto might well have been dis­ap­pointed when they dis­cov­ered the trans­mis­sion wasn’t equipped with a man­ual shift op­tion that has be­come an ac­cepted part of the mo­tor­ing land­scape in re­cent times.

The Epica came with plenty of the fea­tures most buy­ers wanted, with stan­dard air­con­di­tion­ing, cruise con­trol, cloth trim, al­loy wheels, power

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