HOLDEN COMMODORES HEAD TO HEAD
not here yet. There’s no V8, despite the fact that almost a third of current Commodores are equipped that way.
The new model is smaller and slimmer than the current Commodore and it’s a five-door hatch (as with the Ford Mondeo and Skoda Superb) rather than a fourdoor sedan.
It’s designed and engineered by General Motors’ German subsidiary, Opel, and will wear an Insignia badge in Europe, competing with mid-sized cars such as the Toyota Camry and Volkswagen Passat.
The Commodore is changing with the times, Holden says — but will buyers embrace it?
The early signs are good after a couple of laps on the high-speed oval and Holden’s extended road course — a piece of tarmac designed to replicate the best and worst in Australia.
The V6 still sounds a bit raspy but it makes good use of the nine-speed auto, launching briskly and smoothly before ticking along at just 1200rpm at Model Engines 2018 3.6-litre V6 230kW/370Nm (plus 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbos, petrol and diesel, outputs not yet published) 9-speed auto; Transmission AWD (V6) 6.0 secs (est) 4899 1863, 1474 2829 1400-1500kg (est) 0-100km/h Dimensions (L, mm) (W, H) (WB) Weight 100km/h, when the ninth ratio is engaged.
It has a fair mount of grunt — 230kW and 370Nm — but performance buyers will be disappointed to learn their are no turbochargers on the V6. Holden says there’s not enough room under the bonnet and argues that it’s pretty quick without them, covering the 0100km/h sprint in “about 6.0 seconds”.
That should be fast enough for most tastes. But the new Commodore is unlikely to appeal to V8 buyers who are accustomed to reaching 100km/h in 5.0 seconds or less in the current Commodore SS, priced from $45,000.
Performance is helped by the fact it is up to 300kg lighter than the current Australian- 2016 3.6-litre V6 210kW/350Nm 6-speed auto; RWD 6.5 secs (est) 4966 1898, 1471 2915 1700kg made car — and 170kg less than the Opel Insignia it replaces and armed with all-wheel-drive grip, which gives it a surefooted feeling. We’re curious to see how the four-cylinder frontdrive performs but that will need to wait for another day.
The seating position is low and sporty, much like the current Commodore, but front passengers are conspicuously closer, shoulder-to-shoulder.
The rear seat is better for two rather than three adults, legroom is good but headroom is tighter than in the current car.
The new car is only slightly bigger than the model introduced in the late 1990s but the boot is bigger and more useful than the outgoing Commodore’s. The hatchback opens up to a large load area and the rear seats flip down to create more cargo space, a bid to appeal to buyers looking for SUV practicality.
Holden says the new Commodore will also appeal to early adopters of technology.
The V6 now has stop-start (so the engine goes silent and saves fuel when stopped in traffic or at lights) and cylinder shutdown management, while the brand promises classleading safety and infotainment technology.
The all-wheel drive is the first of its type in the world — it employs a pair of clutches instead of a rear differential — and assists with instant acceleration.
Pressing the accelerator triggers simultaneous signals to the engine and rear clutches — so the amount of drive to send to the rear wheels is calculated even before the engine has had time to build power.
Other technology highlights include intelligent high-beam that doesn’t dazzle oncoming traffic while still illuminating 400m ahead. The list of other gadgets is being held back until the car is formally unveiled in December.
First impressions are that the new Holden will be a fine vehicle but is it a Commodore?
That’s a tough question to answer. Holden says the Commodore had to move with the times.
But did they need to put a Commodore badge on this car?
For me, for now, this is not a Commodore. Regardless of how good it might be.