COM­ING UP

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Used Car -

THE Premier was once the pres­tige model in Holden range. Tak­ing on that role more re­cently was the Calais, the model to buy if you wanted a lit­tle more com­fort and re­fine­ment in your driv­ing life.

The end is in sight for the Com­modore and its vari­ants such as the Calais and Holden has tin­kered around the fringes to keep it rel­a­tively fresh be­fore the plug is pulled.

The VF launched in 2013, an up­date of the VE, could be picked by a close look at its front and rear styling.

As with the pre­de­ces­sor, there were two ver­sions, the reg­u­lar Calais and the Calais V with the lot. Fur­ther choices were a sedan or wagon, pro­pelled by V6 or V8 en­gines.

In­side, the Calais was spa­cious and com­fort­able with am­ple room for rear pas­sen­gers. The likes of soft leather, suede and chrome high­lights gave it a warm and fuzzy feel­ing.

VF mod­els fea­tured self­park­ing and rear-view cam­era, the lat­ter a wor­thy ad­di­tion, the for­mer some­thing of a gim­mick.

There was also a switch­able head-up dis­play, pro­ject­ing speed and other key info on the wind­screen in front of the driver.

The 3.6-litre V6, car­ried over from the VE, had plenty of torque for smooth drive­abil­ity and brisk ac­cel­er­a­tion when needed. The down­side was fuel con­sump­tion, which at a claimed av­er­age of 9.0L/100km wasn’t great.

For a bit of fun there was the 6.0-litre V8, which en­abled smooth cruis­ing or, thanks to its 260kW, thun­der away from the lights as the mood struck.

Both en­gines were well matched to six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sions.

On the road the Calais was smooth, quiet and well bal­anced and han­dled with as­sur­ance. It was well-suited to long-dis­tance cruis­ing. With the ear­li­est ex­am­ples now three years old and on av­er­age with less than 100,000km on the clock, the VF Calais is in its prime. It’s a good time to buy one preloved.

Own­ers are gen­er­ally happy with their choice of cars; most praise the per­for­mance, ride and han­dling, and re­fine­ment. Most like the big car feel and drive­abil­ity and ac­cept the less than ideal fuel con­sump­tion that comes with the Calais.

En­gines are gen­er­ally trou­ble free but buy­ers of the V6 should be aware of the prob­lem that struck down the VE, that is, stretched cam tim­ing chains that caused rough run­ning and stalling. It’s too early to state whether the prob­lem still af­fects this en­gine but it’s worth keep­ing in mind as it’s not cheap to re­place the chain.

There are also re­ports of is­sues with the head-up dis­play, so check that it works. It’s not a ma­jor deal and many driv­ers find it’s a dis­trac­tion and turn it off.

Reg­u­lar ser­vic­ing is the key to keep­ing the VF in good shape so check for a good main­te­nance record.

My VF Calais V6 was a de­light to drive. It had plenty of power, was com­fort­able in­side and good look­ing out­side. I had no prob­lems with it at all and ser­vices were cheap. The fuel econ­omy was bril­liant on a long drive when I got high-7.0L/ 100km and mid-9s around town. My only com­plaint was with the link sys­tem that had lots of is­sues with phone com­pat­i­bil­ity, which Holden blamed on the iPhone. It is a real stinker and a shame as the car in all other as­pects is a gem. Over­all I am a big fan.

Apart from a torque con­verter re­place­ment af­ter about 3000km and an episode of a com­puter mal­func­tion that only re­quired a re­boot, my 2014 VF Calais has been flaw­less. I’m de­lighted with it, it’s great value for money and well equipped.

My VF Calais is my first Holden in 34 years of driv­ing. What a dis­ap­point­ment. It had the wrong colour in­te­rior when de­liv­ered, the car­pets were sat­u­rated from the air­con and had to be re­placed, there was a click un­der the seats when go­ing round cor­ners, and the Blue­tooth de­vel­oped prob­lems. On the plus side it was rea­son­ably com­fort­able and quiet on road, it had many safety fea­tures and was eco­nom­i­cal for a big car if not driven hard. I sold it af­ter less than 12 months.

I’ve had my VF Calais V8 V for just on two years. It’s only done 8000km but I swear ev­ery kilo­me­tre has been an ab­so­lute plea­sure. I don’t think there is any­thing that could be added to im­prove the safety, com­fort, ride or power.

I have run up 111,000km in my 2013 VF Calais with­out any sort of prob­lem. I love to drive and this is the best ve­hi­cle by far I have ever driven in my 63 years of driv­ing. The seat­ing com­fort, di­rect steer­ing, in­te­rior lay­out, smooth ride, ex­cel­lent fuel con­sump­tion, and amaz­ing brakes are ex­cel­lent.

The VF Calais brings a smile to my face ev­ery time I drive it. The han­dling is Do you own or have you owned a Share your ex­pe­ri­ence with other Cars­guide read­ers by send­ing your com­ments to Gra­ham Smith at [email protected]­pond.com or write to Cars­guide, PO Box 4245, Syd­ney, NSW 2010. great, it’s com­fort­able and it’s well ap­pointed.

I up­dated from a VE Calais V to the VF. I was very dis­ap­pointed to find the GPS had no speed cam­era alerts, which I found use­ful in un­fa­mil­iar ar­eas. The in­fo­tain­ment isn't as user friendly as the VE’s. Oth­er­wise, the VF ’s a plea­sure to drive. The world is down­siz­ing, but you can still cruise in com­fort.

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