Holden Com­modore RS-V


New Zealand Company Vehicle - - CONTENTS -

Here’s some­thing that hard­core Aussie Com­modore fans aren’t go­ing to like – the new Euro­pean-built Opel In­signia-based ZB Com­modore is a far, far bet­ter car than the Aus­tralian-built car it re­places. Right, the stead­fast Com­modore crowd have thrown this mag­a­zine away in dis­gust now, so we can get down to ex­actly why the ZB Com­modore is so con­vinc­ingly good. Let’s start with looks – the sleek and sexy RS-V Sport­wagon you see here is eas­ily the classi­est Com­modore ever. In my opin­ion. Looks are very sub­jec­tive, how­ever, and the ar­gu­ment can eas­ily be made that not enough has re­ally been done to make it look dif­fer­ent to the In­signia. That is all part of the mas­sive iden­tity cri­sis that Holden is cur­rently go­ing through as it jug­gles a range packed full of cars from dif­fer­ent sources, with dif­fer­ent de­sign lan­guages, and tries to con­vince us they are all one fam­ily. Let’s start with the driv­e­train. Un­der the bon­net the ZB’S re­vised 3.6-litre V6 is a su­perbly re­spon­sive thing that sounds great too, with a sur­pris­ingly bel­liger­ent roar when prod­ded along. The nine-speed trans­mis­sion is a won­der­fully slick and re­fined thing, but the undis­puted star of the driv­e­train is the thor­oughly ex­cel­lent AWD sys­tem, par­tic­u­larly the fan­tas­tic Twin­ster torque vec­tor­ing rear dif­fer­en­tial. The Twin­ster sys­tem – sup­plied by UK man­u­fac­turer GKN – uses two clutches to dis­trib­ute torque be­tween the front and rear axle and be­tween the two rear wheels, rather than plan­e­tary gears, or a brake­based elec­tronic sys­tem and it trans­forms the Com­modore into a sure-footed, sharp han­dling de­light that sim­ply belts into and out of cor­ners with re­mark­able com­po­sure. Add to this im­pres­sive han­dling prow­ess a great ride and some nicely sharp steer­ing and you eas­ily have the most en­gag­ingly ca­pa­ble Com­modore ever. But it doesn’t do big, lurid RWD skids, so there’s that. In­side the ZB things aren’t quite so con­vinc­ingly su­pe­rior over the VF, but it is still nicely made with high qual­ity ma­te­ri­als. Well laid out and bril­liantly com­fort­able with some se­ri­ously com­fort­able seats, the RSV’s in­te­rior is pleas­ant enough, but there are some ob­vi­ous ar­eas of cheap-look­ing, hard plas­tics, par­tic­u­larly the cen­tre con­sole. It isn’t all sweet­ness and light, how­ever. Us­ing the steer­ing wheel pad­dles to man­u­ally shift gears is an al­most com­plete and ut­ter waste of time in the RS-V, with you more likely to be beeped at and have the “Shift De­nied” mes­sage flashed at you than ac­tu­ally grab a lower gear when down­shift­ing, while the in­cred­i­bly close ra­tios mean lit­tle in the way of sat­is­fac­tion is to be had in up­shift­ing either. For­tu­nately the new trans­mis­sion is more than ca­pa­ble of keep­ing up with spir­ited driv­ing, and us­ing the man­ual shifter on an au­to­matic Com­modore has al­ways been a moot point, so there’s noth­ing dif­fer­ent here. Drive it be­fore you judge it harshly for not be­ing a “real” Com­modore. It’s way bet­ter than that.

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