Stretching the budget
Holden’s show of class, writes Graham Smith.
FOR much of their existence, the Statesman and its Caprice big brother played second fiddle to the all-powerful Ford Fairlane and LTD. With the demise of the Ford duo, they reigned alone. MODEL WATCH: Like all previous models in the Statesman and Caprice line, the WM was based on the passenger car model of the day. In the case of the WM, it was the VE Commodore.
The trick was to distinguish them from their lesser siblings so buyers felt they were buying something special.
That was achieved mostly by extending the wheelbase of the VE by 94mm and the overall length by 266mm, which was used to increase the rear cabin space and the boot.
The profile was smoothed to achieve a visual balance with the new, longer body and there was extra chrome trim and badges to give it the sophisticated presence buyers in the class demand.
Holden offered two models in the WM range: the Statesman and the range-topping Caprice; differentiated by their trim and features list.
Both could be specified with either the 3.6-litre high output Alloytec V6, putting out 195 kW at 6500 revs and 340 Nm at 2600 revs, or the 6.0-litre V8, boasting 270 kW at 5700 revs and 530 Nm at 4400 revs.
The V6 came with a five-speed auto with shift paddles while the V8 came with a six-speed auto that also featured paddle shifting.
Underneath the chassis was the same as the VE, with multilink independent suspension front and rear, front mounted steering rack, and large disc brakes.
It was an awesome package that handled with the aplomb of a smaller car. Inside, the Statesman had woodgrain highlights, power front seats, front and rear park assist, rainsensing wipers, powerful 11-speaker CD sound, MP3 and Bluetooth connectivity.
The Caprice had aluminium accents, deep bolstered sports seats, leather and suede trim, Bose premium sound and Tri-zone air. IN THE SHOP: Overall the WM is proving a sturdy, reliable car but watch for a slump in acceleration when it seems the six-speed auto transmission isn’t quite sure what is going on. It’s usually at low speed when you want to accelerate again after lifting off the gas.
Carsguide has received few complaints about the WM. Look for a service record and inspect for possible crash damage. IN A CRASH:
Befitting its status at the top of the Holden tree, the WM had an array of safety gear.
It began with a solid body structure, designed to absorb the energy of a crash, and included steering column ride-down mechanism and breakaway pedals. Then it added a host of airbags, electronic stability control, traction control, anti-lock braking, electronic brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution. ANCAP gave it five out of a possible five stars. UNDER THE PUMP: Carsguide reader Kevin Alsop is resigned to the fact the V8 WM Caprice is a big heavy car and is content with the 12.4-12.6 L/100 km from it. Holden’s claim was the V6 would average 11.7 L/100 km and the V8 14.4 L/100 km.