For close on forty years, the Holden Commodore, together with sibling Calais, were large sedans and station wagons capable of carting a family and its gear over long distances in comfort, while making good time.
So now, how does the European-sourced, Australian-revised, replacement compare with the traditional Aussie-built icon?
What better way to find out than by taking a family trip from the Gold Coast to Sydney and back? We were blessed with a Commodore RS-V V6 AWD Liftback for our big trip.
Approaching the vehicle from all angles, Commodore offers a range of restrained decorative treatments to the sleek, yet substantial, European sports body kit with rear lip spoiler and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, it’s much the same with soft-touch surroundings, leather-wrapped sports steering wheel with paddles, alloy pedals, leather-appointed trim, heated sports front seats, ambient lighting and DAB+ digital radio.
Holden, as an early adapter of in-car infotainment with its MyLink system. New Commodore has a 8-inch high-resolution colour touchscreen display.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone projection, plus full iPod integration, including Siri, have kept up with trends.
Even more so now with colour head-up windscreen display and wireless smartphone charging via a centre console unit.
However, the embedded satellite navigation system is lagging behind information on the upgrading of the Pacific Highway. It kept giving us directions to turn left or right onto now superseded roads. With the arrow representing the Commodore on the screen, ploughing on through paddocks and bushland. Not a beast in sight…
Based on the German made Opel Insignia, the new Holden Commodore comes to the Australian market in two- and all-wheel drive with petrol, turbo-petrol or diesel power.
Our test Commodore RS-V was powered by a 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine mated with a new nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
Auto emergency braking had the windscreen head-up display lighting up and beeping with a warning of another vehicle too close in front, while lane keeping assist gently corrected the steering on any sign of wandering.
The 360-degree / surround-view cameras were a bonus when parking in tight spots, as was rear cross-traffic alert on reversing out from between obstacles. Finally, the seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty will outlast many a trip up and down the Australian east coast.
The Australian Commodore and Calais package is down to Holden engineers covering more than 200,000 kilometres of testing the drivetrain and suspension on Australian roads and at the Lang Lang proving ground.
Pushing the dash-mounted engine start/stop button unleashes 235 kW and 381 Nm with a note rising to a rorty crescendo.
Performance off the mark was all-but instantaneous, while overtaking, even on narrow roads was quick and easy, courtesy of adaptive all-wheel drive with electric limited-slip differential.
Official combined urban / highway fuel consumption is 8.9 litres per 100 kilometres on regular 91 RON unleaded, which compares with 10.2 (town) and 7.6 (highway) respectively for the test vehicle.
The big boot, 490 litres takes two big suitcases, plus the smaller luggage with room to spare.
Storage in the passenger cabin runs to a deep centre-console bin and generous door pockets for bits and pieces.
Comfort for the average height is good but could be challenging for a taller person. Leg room in the rear is adequate without being generous. Even with the presence of leather, there’s a feeling of the ordinary all round. Nothing stands out, it’s bland.
The Commodore RS-V shows the way with automotive technology for less than $50,000. European rivals with the same specs would be priced well above. Pity about the sat nav.
LT 2.0-litre turbo $33,690
Calais 2.0-litre turbo $40,990
Calais-V V6 AWD $51,990
RS 2.0-litre turbo $37,290
RS V6 AWD $40,790
RS-V V6 AWD $46,990
VXR V6 AWD $55,990
LT 2.0-litre turbo $35,890
RS 2.0-litre turbo $39,490
RS-V V6 AWD $49,190
Calais Tourer V6 AWD $45,990
Calais-V Tourer V6 AWD $53,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Holden dealer for drive-away prices.