Holden’s SV6 Commodore Wagon: an SUV alternative.

 

Commodore VF II gaycarboys (2)

Commodore VF II gaycarboys (3)Commodore VF II gaycarboys (1)

Since the government killed off local manufacturing, Holden and Ford have made their final local models sparkle.

Commodore comes loaded with techy gear even in the second bottom model. In wagon guise, the SV6 is handsome, spacious and a great drive.

The aging Australian-built 3.6 Alloytech 210kw V6 also powers other GM models such as Cadillac XTS, Chevy’s Colorado and Impala, and the GMC terrain, as well as a host of previous models. A turbo 2.8 version powers Holden’s Insignia VXR and the last and best SAAB 9-5 Aero. A new Insignia will probably be the new Commodore post 2017. A recent trip to Lang Lang, Holden’s super-dooper-secret-squirrel test facility proved the new models were under evaluation. They secreted all the good stuff and taped up our cameras and phones. They also even canned photos taken just outside the fence in a fit of paranoia. So make of that what you will.

The 6 speed auto feels a cog or two short of expectation and although very smooth, can feel a bit slushy around town. The V8 models have a newer 6 speed auto.

Fuel savings came from the Zeta platform being given a once over. The VF body shell and electrics were made lighter, so it meant such goodies as the auto parking and sensors could be added cheaply. The prices had a dramatic fall from the VE model too. The VFII had a few minor updates including Apple Carplay in the MyLink 2 entertainment system.

The SV6 gets: colour head-up display, auto parking, parking sensors, reversing camera with cross traffic alert, Satnav, blind spot alert, keyless entry/start, Siri Eyes-free and much more all for $38,990 (sedan) on the current special “End Of Financial Year Offer. That’s a stunning price for a full sized 5 seat V6 saloon with a 6 speed auto. Satnav alone was once a ludicrous $4,500 option on some brands. Even the gorgeously ball-rattling SSV-Redline with 302 kw is a mere $62,018 (sedan). There is little point in going into pricing too much because of the huge savings and special offers. The SV6 Wagon costs $45,413 which is quite a bit more than the sedan, so buy the sedan if you can’t find the extra bucks.

Cosmetic changes to the grille and a sexy LED makeover for the tail lights look even more scrumptious.

The sporty types, for whom only rear wheel drives will do, will want to place an order prior to next year. If the new Commodore is the Next Insignia, you’ll find only Front wheel drive on all models except for the VXR which is AWD.

Driving the wagon is an easy low-stress experience. The big lazy V6 just does its own thing while getting about 15/L100k in town. Don’t believe any of that tosh about 9.L/100k because if you only go to the shops and back, the 9L/100k is just a dream. The only drawback is that fact that your prized chariot sounds a little like a taxi.

This is probably the best Commodore range since the nameplate began in 1978. It is certainly the most technically advanced. The exterior is classy but very conservative. The interior is elegant with a top draw feel about it.

The wagon has a soft close tailgate. Just gently push it down and a little motor does the last few millimeters so you don’t need to slam it, ever.

The drive is as elegant as ever. You could comfortably do a road trip of several thousand k’s without batting an eyelid. While on the highway you’ll get about 7L/100k so your 71 litre tank should theoretically get you to Melbourne from Sydney on a single tank, but I’d be slightly skeptical.

The cargo hold is spacious with 895L seats up, and a ball-room-like 2,000L with the rear seats down.

Somehow the humble “wagon” has fallen out of favour even though Holden glued the word “sports” to the front of it. Buyers have been courted by the lure SUVs who seem to be able to park and drive anywhere they like. Suddenly, 5’2” soccer-moms think that a car double their height is just the ticket and that wearing sunglass the size of dinner planes gives them unfettered permission to park over the lines in shopping centres, triple park on highways as long as it is in a school zone, and to use footpaths as another lane when traffic is bad. An SV6 wagon is much more attractive than most SUVs, and is cheaper to buy and cheaper to run.

Perhaps a decent diesel or torquey turbo 4 could have saved Commodore. Maybe an 8 speed auto would have made it seem more up to date, but either way this is the last update before the rear wheel drive bites the dust. No amount of review-reading replaces the feeling of a test drive. Tell the man at the car shop that you want a decent drive. Tell him you’re ready to buy but that you won’t spend 40 grand based on this 300 metres around the block nonsense. There may even be further savings to be had next month, who knows?

If I can leave you with one thought, it is this: Where else can you get a 4 – 5 seater with a powerful auto V6, that drives like a limo and has Euro-style tech? Where else can you get automated parking and keyless entry/start in a package with seats so comfy, you could drive the Pacific Coast just for the hell of it? I might sound misty, but Commodore has been an old mate for 38 years and saying goodbye is hard. Just as it comes of age, it’s gone, but not quite yet.

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