“THE ONLY SIMILARITY IS THE BADGE ON THE GRILLE, JUST”
span, until local car making ceased in October 2017.
Fast forward to 2018 and history is repeating itself with an imported Opel replacing the local Commodore, but this time the badge has been kept. Just like 1978, buyers are thin on the ground and sales are worryingly slow. What’s the problem?
Sure SUVs are gobbling up passenger cars in the sales race but that still doesn’t explain the massive buyer resistance to the new Commodore.
Out of curiosity we grabbed Guido’s much-loved Aussie-made deep blue 253 V8 Kingswood and the latest imported Calais-V to discover how Aussie family motoring has evolved over 40-odd years.
The 1979 four-door HZ Kingswood sedan sports Radial Tune Suspension, the optional 120kW/325Nm 4.2-litre V8 and Tri-Matic auto. The five-door liftback Calais-V is all-wheel drive and powered by a naturally aspirated 3.6-litre 235kW/381Nm V6 bolted to a nine-speed auto.
The only similarity is the badge on the grille, just.
The first thing you notice is the vastly different styling. While the Kingswood is square and upright, the Calais-V is sleeker with wheels that fill the guards and heavily raked front and back windscreens. Despite their contrasting shapes the Calais-V is longer, but surprisingly it is the Kingswood that’s wider (1880mm v 1863mm) and lower (1370 v 1455mm) while just 29mm separates their wheelbases with the Calais-V the winner (2800 v 2829mm). All round visibility is much better in the Kingswood with its larger glass area and slimmer pillars.
The newcomer is a dramatic shift for the Commodore/Calais name and much like a rookie
player wearing a club legend’s jumper, it’s taking a lot of getting used to. But these things usually, but not always work out in the end. Holden is certainly hoping so.
The Calais-V’s turbine-like V6 engine is more polished than its predecessor and loves to rev, with its own distinct bark and the nine gears in the auto gearbox keep you deep in the torque band, so you are in the right gear for every occasion.
Countless laps of the 192 corner Nurburgring Nordschleife is where Opel engineers hooned around, I mean honed the chassis, before sending it to Oz for a further 200,000 kilometres of torture on our ‘unique’ roads, resulting in a chassis and suspension setup that delivers a limousine ride with a dollop of sporty handling.
Though the Calais can be hustled confidently through corners the light steering lacks the feedback and feel of its immediate locally-made predecessor, despite it being all-wheel drive as opposed to rear drive.
Putting power to the road is achieved through the adaptive Twinster all-wheel-drive system with torque vectoring and a twin-clutch diff. Its clever software feeds power to whichever wheels can best use it.
Visual highlights of the Calais-V are 20-inch alloy wheels, a discreet rear lip spoiler, adaptive LED headlights and an electric sunroof.
Inside are ventilated black leather seats, the driver’s seat copping adjustable side bolsters and a massage function and the rear a heating function.
Throughout the cabin are soft-touch surfaces and polished black trim.
There is also a colour head-up display and an 8.0-inch infotainment touch-screen with satnav, Bluetooth Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and a swag of apps.
Standard on the Calais- V are adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree camera, wireless phone charging, digital radio, auto high beam and a powerful BOSE sound system.
Occupant safety is where the massive advances have been made with the Calais-V having anti-lock brakes, traction and stability controls plus a raft of driver assist technologies.
“THE NINE GEARS IN THE AUTO GEARBOX KEEP YOU DEEP IN THE TORQUE BAND – A RIGHT GEAR FOR EVERY OCCASION”
TOP “You’re not taking the Kingswood.”LEFT Five door liftback. It’s a Calais, but not as we know it.