Holden stal­wart

VE Com­modore 2006

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - Front Page -

V6 Omega re­turns 10.9 litres/100km, a high out­put V6 11-11.3 litres/100km, and a V8 about 14.5 litres.

THERE were few more im­por­tant cars in Holden’s his­tory than the VE Com­modore. With the mar­ket mov­ing from tra­di­tional fam­ily cars like the Com­modore to smaller cars like Toy­ota’s Corolla and fuel prices soar­ing, the VE had to be spot-on if it was to hold on to the mar­ket lead­er­ship pre­vi­ous Com­modores had won.

That it still clings to the top spot on the sales charts is clear ev­i­dence that Holden got it pretty much right and the $480 mil­lion Holden in­vested in the all-new model was well spent.

Two years on from launch, the VE is now es­tab­lished in the realm of the used car buyer; the ones who pre­fer to buy a car af­ter the first rush of de­pre­ci­a­tion has passed.

The Com­modore has been Holden’s front­line weapon for 30 years af­ter be­ing in­tro­duced in the wake of the oil crises of the 1970s. The su­per­seded Com­modore shape, which dated back to the VT in 1997, was looking tired and des­per­ately needed fresh­en­ing by 2006.

The VE brought with it a dy­namic shape with taut curves and ath­letic pro­por­tions. Im­por­tantly it was in­stantly recog­nised as be­ing new; there was no mis­tak­ing it for a VZ.

Three en­gines were on of­fer from the start; two ver­sions of the dou­ble over­head camshaft 3.6-litre Al­loytec V6 and a 6.0-litre pushrod V8.

The base V6 pro­duced 180kW and 330Nm, while the sporty ver­sion put out 195kW and 340Nm, and the V8 pro­duced 270kW and 530Nm.

There was the choice of man­ual and au­to­matic trans­mis­sions. The base V6 was linked to a four-speed auto, but the high-out­put en­gine could be had with a five-speed auto or a six-speed man­ual.

The V8 was mated to an elec­tronic six-speed auto or a six-speed man­ual.

Holden also in­tro­duced a new model line-up, start­ing with the Omega. That was fol­lowed by the sporty SV6, which boasted the high per­for­mance V6 en­gine.

The V8s kicked off with the SS, but there was also a new, bet­ter-equipped SSV model, the lux­ury Calais with the high­per­for­mance V6 or 6.0-litre V8, and the more highly equipped Calais V.

With the VE still in pro­duc­tion used car prices are hold­ing up rea­son­ably well, but could be ex­pected to soften as more cars come on the mar­ket as leases ex­pire.

Look to pay $17,000-$19,000 for an Omega, $24,000- $28,000 for an SV6, and $29,000-$31,000 for an SS. Add $4000 to move up to an SSV. Pay $30,000-$32,000 for a Calais, add $4000 for a Calais V.

Soon af­ter the VE was launched, a prob­lem came to light with the main fuel hose where it con­nects to the in­jec­tor rail on V8s. If af­fected, a leak could de­velop. But that was ad­dressed with a re­call and all cars should have been fixed. How­ever, if you smell fuel check it out.

Other than that, there haven’t been any is­sues reg­u­larly com­plained about with the VE. But be­ing just three years old and with the av­er­age VE hav­ing ac­cu­mu­lated about 60,000km, it’s still early days.

Check the body for panel fit and fin­ish, looking for any ev­i­dence of crash re­pairs. Open and close the doors, bon­net and boot lid to check they all op­er­ate smoothly.

In­spect the en­gine bay for oil leaks that might need fix­ing. Check for a ser­vice record, which shouldn’t be an is­sue for a car so new.

Body strength, ag­ile han­dling with stan­dard elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, re­spon­sive steer­ing and pow­er­ful anti-skid brakes all add up to a good ac­tive safety pack­age, while stan­dard front airbags and op­tional side and cur­tain airbags pro­vide pro­tec­tion once the metal starts to crum­ple. ANCAP rated the VE at four stars. There was some dis­quiet over the VE’s fuel econ­omy at its release, as it seemed the heav­ier new model used more fuel than the VZ. Holden seemed re­luc­tant to talk about fuel econ­omy, but such was the pub­lic con­cern that Holden fi­nally sought to dampen the talk by re­leas­ing fig­ures com­par­ing the VE with its pre­de­ces­sor.

Those fig­ures showed there was lit­tle dif­fer­ence be­tween the two. Some mod­els used slightly less fuel, oth­ers a lit­tle more, but there was very lit­tle dif­fer­ence.

Holden’s fig­ures showed a V6 Omega would re­turn 10.9 litres/100km, a high out­put V6 11-11.3 litres/100km, and a V8 about 14.5 litres.

De­bate rages over the suit­abil­ity of the Al­loytec V6 for LPG con­ver­sion. Holden is adamant the en­gine needs the hard­ened valve seats and valves it fits in its dual-fuel en­gine and ad­vises own­ers not to con­vert their cars to LPG, but the LPG trade has var­i­ous opin­ions on con­vert­ing the en­gine.

Some will ad­vise against it, their rea­son be­ing prob­lems that have been en­coun­tered with the heads; oth­ers will say there’s no prob­lem if it’s done cor­rectly.

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