Unique Cars - - TOYBOX -

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.


TOP “You’re not tak­ing the Kingswood.”LEFT Five door lift­back. It’s a Calais, but not as we know it.

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