NT News - Motoring - - NEWS - By NEIL McDON­ALD

IN THE rush to high-rid­ing soft­road­ers, many fam­i­lies have largely ig­nored a more prac­ti­cal route — wag­ons.

Heavy off-road­ers have taken over the role as the fam­ily bus but in re­al­ity a con­ven­tional sedan­based wagon will ful­fil most du­ties, un­less you ab­so­lutely need a seven-seater.

For many, a car like the fiveseater Holden Com­modore Sport­wagon is just what the doc­tor or­dered.

It’s a good looking, pur­pose-built wagon with a roomy, comfortable cabin and a five-star crash safety rat­ing.

The Calais V Sport­wagon adds a lit­tle more bling but serves a sim­i­lar pur­pose.

The in­te­grated DVD sys­tem in the roof is a bonus for keep­ing the kids quiet and the rear-view cam­era is a wel­come ad­di­tion to the park­ing sen­sors.

Un­der the bon­net the big­gest new ar­rival with the lat­est Com­modores is SIDI — or Spark Ig­ni­tion Di­rect In­jec­tion — which im­proves fuel econ­omy and the over­all smooth­ness of the V6.

Un­like the pre­vi­ous rau­cous six, the SIDI en­gine also sounds qui­eter.

The re­fined en­gine is now at a point of its de­vel­op­ment that it has be­come a world-class unit.

The econ­omy from the big lo­cally built six is also im­pres­sive.

We man­aged fig­ures of about 12litres/100km around town with the prom­ise of bet­ter high­way econ­omy.

The changes from the six-speed auto also feel smoother than we re­mem­ber.

The only mark against Com­modore is the cabin.

It has been around since 2006 and is due for a freshen this year.

We’re used to the thick A-pil­lars and the guil­lo­tine hand­brake action but the Calais in­te­rior and dash­board is looking tired, par­tic­u­larly when you line it up against Ford’s ef­fort with the Fal­con G6E.

The wagon’s swoopy rear also eats into lug­gage space but there is no deny­ing it is a hand­some ve­hi­cle, par­tic­u­larly the Calais V ver­sion with its stylish 18-inch al­loys.


STRONG: The Calais V Sport­wagon has a five-star crash safety rat­ing

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