HOLDEN COM­MODORES HEAD TO HEAD

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - First Drive -

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.

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