A HOLDEN HIT

. . . are ex­ceeded in the Com­modore Evoke

Herald Sun - Motoring - - On the Web - STU­ART MARTIN stu­art.martin@cars­guide.com.au

Com­modore Evoke is one of the best ever Red Lion base mod­els — it’s com­fort­able, roomy, adept and a lot of car for $35K

FUND­ING. Jobs. FBT. Any men­tion of Holden, or Com­modore, seems to prompt men­tion of one or all of th­ese. But when was the last time you drove one?

The Com­modore’s sched­uled demise in 2016 is blamed on buy­ers de­fect­ing en masse from big fam­ily cars. No, it’s not a fash­ion­able small hatch or SUV yet, when you get be­hind the wheel and put it through your daily grind, the Evoke— the en­trant to the new VF Com­modore range— is a fine ma­chine.

VALUE

The Evoke is $5000 cheaper than the out­go­ing Omega. In re­al­ity the list price has moved to where deal­ers were shift­ing the old car but the Evoke is a lot of car for the money. More than ever, in fact. For $34,990 you get auto-re­lease elec­tric park brake, 16-inch al­loys (the test car had the op­tional full­size spare), dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, re­mote start func­tion on au­tos, up­graded touch­screen cen­tre dis­play to con­trol the MyLink in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with iPod in­te­gra­tion, USB and Blue­tooth in­put and voice con­trol.

Notably ab­sent, how­ever, is sat­nav (though it’s op­tional from Septem­ber at $750), as is a leather-wrapped steer­ing wheel. The leather trim has moved on to the dash­board but I’d rather have it on the helm, thank you.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The base engine, Holden’s fa­mil­iar 3.0-litre di­rect­in­jec­tion V6, is far from cut­ting-edge but it’s been tweaked to im­prove fuel econ­omy to the claimed 8.3L/100km.

The re­vamped dash­board setup draws the tech heads’ at­ten­tion. It’s dom­i­nated by a touch­screen with built-in apps for in­ter­net ra­dio There’s up­graded voice recog­ni­tion for the sys­tem and, if you’re us­ing a new iPhone, there’s in­te­gra­tion for that voice con­trol sys­tem as well. A ‘‘ smart re­mote start’’ func­tion on the key fob has a 100-me­tre range, which would be handy to start heat­ing or cool­ing the cabin.

DE­SIGN

The VF is new for­ward of the wind­screen pil­lar and aft of the roof. The base model is less un­gainly than its pre­de­ces­sor with a sharper tail-light treat­ment and theGM­fam­ily look to the nose. The bon­net creases are a nice touch.

At 1622kg it’s 43kg lighter than the Omega thanks to alu­minium bon­net, boot lid and sus­pen­sion com­po­nents, Holden says— ar­chive kerb weight fig­ures don’t back that claim. Those in­ter­ested in tow­ing will have to look into the Evoke’s 1600kg braked ca­pac­ity, 500kg down on the re­main­der of the sedan range.

The cabin re­mains cav­ernous and com­fort­able but there’s still no split-fold­ing for the rear seat back­rest— 496L of boot space will have to do.

SAFETY

Lighter but stronger, the

pack­age keeps its five-star ANCAP rat­ing. Add six airbags (in­clud­ing larger front-side units), front and rear park­ing sen­sors and re­vers­ing cam­era.

The Evoke comes stan­dard with au­to­matic park­ing as­sis­tance to steer it into par­al­lel and right-an­gle spots. If you need this, you shouldn’t be driv­ing. The sta­bil­ity (in­clud­ing a trailer-sway func­tion) and trac­tion con­trol are also user­friendly and the anti-lock brak­ing is among the best for lo­cal roads, with par­tic­u­lar tal­ents in un­sealed-sur­face emer­gency stops.

DRIV­ING

This V6 isn’t the most au­di­bly pleas­ant of en­gines but the work done on VF’s cabin noise and re­fine­ment takes the edge off. Also wor­thy is the IQ up­grade for the au­to­matic, which is no longer Jekyll and Hyde be­tween nor­mal and sport modes.

Sus­pen­sion and steer­ing are tour­ing spec. Ride qual­ity gets jig­gly over some smaller and reg­u­lar road im­per­fec­tions but the big­ger in­tru­sions are han­dled more ca­pa­bly. Body con­trol is use­ful and hus­tling on a back road is no chore ei­ther; un­sealed sur­face be­hav­iour is well above aver­age.

Turn­ing off the elec­tronic safety mea­sures doesn’t mean the big sedan will con­stantly want to swap ends but it makes for mild en­ter­tain­ment. The stop­pers have the smarts to deal with loose sur­face emer­gency stops.

VER­DICT

This is one of the best ever Red Lion base mod­els— com­fort­able, roomy, adept and a lot of car for the money.

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