On the wagon

Hamilton News - - DRIVEN -

Con­sid­er­ing the up­roar the new-gen­er­a­tion Com­modore range has un­leashed, I think it’s ap­pro­pri­ate I pref­ace this with a dis­claimer: I’m a long­time Holden fan.

My first car was a Com­modore and first job out of col­lege was with the Aus­tralian com­pany. I have spent more money than I’d like to ad­mit on own­ing, tin­ker­ing with and fu­elling my pas­sion for Aussiebuilt, rear-wheel drive V8 awe­some­ness. At least, that’s how I jus­ti­fied it. Yet as an ex-em­ployee and mul­ti­ple owner I was left dumb­founded as to how I should ap­proach this new Ger­man-built, Aus­tralian-tuned ZB Com­modore.

But there’s only one thing any mo­tor­ing journo should do when handed the keys to a new model — go and drive the wheels off it. It’s worth not­ing two things that were al­ways clear about the new ZB: there was never go­ing to be a V8 and there was al­ways go­ing to be a front-wheel drive, four­cylin­der ver­sion. That’s be­cause the new Com­modore was des­tined to be built on a new global GM plat­form. Once upon a time there were even plans to build it in Aus­tralia, but we all know how that went.

Thank­fully, my first ZB ex­pe­ri­ence would not be in a FWD diesel — which ad­mit­tedly is a car we quite like at My first taste of Zb­ness was in the form of the RS-V Sport­wagon. Priced from $58,990, the RS-V is avail­able as a five-door lift­back sedan or Sport­wagon. It sits slap bang in the mid­dle of the ZB range, above the LT and RS and be­low the Sportier VXR and lux­ury-ori­ented Calais-v.

It’s the first Com­modore in the re­vamped range to be fit­ted with a 3.6-litre nat­u­rally as­pi­rated V6 en­gine pro­duc­ing 235kw of power at 6800rpm and 381Nm of torque at 5200rpm.

The en­gine de­liv­ers its power smoothly, with plenty of low-down torque to get up and go­ing. Paired with a nine-speed au­to­matic gear­box, the RS-V is just as happy in the city as it is on the open mo­tor­way. On pa­per the en­gine ap­pears a wor­thy re­place­ment to the pre­vi­ous VF SV6 range with a newer de­sign and iden­ti­cal ca­pac­ity pro­duc­ing more power and pull. But, work­ing from the bot­tom up, the RS-V is also the first model you’ll find with an all-new Twin­ster adap­tive AWD sys­tem. Twin­ster refers to the twin-clutch setup in the rear that can in­di­vid­u­ally con­trol torque de­liv­ery to both rear wheels.although the new driv­e­line setup is con­tro­ver­sial among red-blooded Holden fans, it was Holden Aus­tralia that con­vinced GM to in­clude both a V6 en­gine and all-wheel drive in the next-gen model line-up. It knew cus­tomers on both sides of the Ditch wanted a car that could per­form when the road gets twisty.

Per­for­mance cre­den­tials are helped with a new Hiper strut front sus­pen­sion de­sign and a five-link in the rear. The sus­pen­sion hard­ware is unique to the Aus­tralasian mar­ket, with struts and shocks de­signed specif­i­cally to en­sure the new ZB is the most planted Com­modore ever.

Whether you’re driv­ing on coun­try back­roads or in the mid­dle of a city, the RS-V is with­out doubt the most con­nected Com­modore I’ve driven. You’re able to push the nose of the car into cor­ners as the smart AWD sys­tem en­sures the rear will fol­low.

The cal­i­bra­tion of the steer­ing and gen­eral road feel was a pleas­ant sur­prise, with Holden’s Aussie en­gi­neers man­ag­ing to tune the ZB to feel con­fi­dent and com­fort­able on the road.

The RS-V also rides on new Con­ti­nen­tal tyres with big­ger side­walls than older V6-pow­ered VF mod­els that fur­ther help to ab­sorb bumps. The in­te­rior shows signs of Holden Aus­tralia’s fiveyear ZB de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme.

The seat­ing po­si­tion and er­gonomics are clas­sic Com­modore. The seats are well bol­stered, ad­justable enough for the whole fam­ily and pro­vide the right amount of com­fort for long jour­neys. For sea­soned Com­modore drivers, the Euro­pean in­flu­ences in the ZB’S cabin are easy to spot.

The rear row pro­vides am­ple leg and head room for all oc­cu­pants, and is one of the few cars that can seat three well-built adults with­out crush­ing every­one’s shoul­ders. With the back seats up there’s an im­pres­sive 793 litres of boot space, and when the seats are dropped, it re­veals 1665 litres — more than enough for any fam­ily.

But one area where the ZB is un­ques­tion­ably bet­ter is the ex­ten­sive list of safety and up-to­date fea­tures that are stan­dard across the range. A 360-de­gree cam­era, adap­tive cruise con­trol, auto emer­gency brak­ing, hands­free power tail­gate and even wire­less phone charg­ing makes its way into the Com­modore for the first time.

It may not be built in Aus­tralia, but Holden’s en­gi­neers have done a stel­lar job de­vel­op­ing a car that will feel mod­ern and fa­mil­iar to Com­modore fans.

Photo / Ted Baghurst

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