A HOLDEN HIT
. . . are exceeded in the Commodore Evoke
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is one of the best ever Red Lion base models— comfortable, roomy, adept and a lot of car for the money.