The automobile industry doesn’t get anywhere near the credit it deserves for the advances in road safety over the last four decades. Although there have been some legislative requirements the vast majority of innovations have been brought in voluntarily and with competition between carmakers driving the safety of motor vehicles to higher and higher levels.
While many of the initiatives have originated in Europe it’s reassuring to see Holden taking the lead with an Australian-made car that’s at the leading edge of vehicle safety.
The following features are available in the new high-tech VF Commodore:
Blind Spot Alert
Regular readers will be well aware of our views on the dangers of driver inattention and the fact that if a driver adjusts their mirrors correctly then there’s no such thing as a blind spot. Nevertheless the reality is that there are such drivers out there so a system such as Blind Spot Alert that uses radar sensors mounted on each side of the rear fascia to alert them to a car coming alongside may well save the lives of the occupants of both vehicles. The VF Commodore’s Blind Spot Alert flashes an orange warning icon on one or other of the car’s two door mirrors. It is available as an option with the Commodore Evoke and is standard in all other models
Lane Departure Warning
Another system designed to avert possible crashes it uses a digital camera mounted at the top of the car’s front windscreen to ‘look at’ lane markings on either side of the car and to alert the driver both visually and audibly when the car moves out of the lane. It only operates at speeds in excess of 56 km/h when it has been activated through a steering wheel mounted button and only when the driver has not signalled a lane change. Lane Departure Warning is only available in the SS V Redline, Calais V and Caprice V models.
Forward Collision Alert
This system uses the same digital camera as that on the lane departure system to monitor vehicles immediately in front of the Commodore and warns the driver if they are approaching such a vehicle too quickly and that a collision is imminent. Unlike some other systems it will not apply the brakes. As with the Lane Departure Warning it’s only available in the SS V Redline, Calais V and Caprice V models.
Now for a feature that assists the alert, rather than the inattentive, driver. A Head-Up Display projects a variety of information onto the bottom of the windscreen immediately in front of the driver thus reducing the need for them to take their eyes off the road. We’ve seen quite a few of these systems in European and Japanese cars, but none with the choice of information in the VF Commodore. Displayed are vehicle speed, the current speed limit, audio functions, vehicle messages and phone information. Too much information? Yes, we think so. The position of the display and its brightness can be adjusted via a dashboard mounted control. Again, HUD only comes with the SS V Redline, Calais V and Caprice V models.
Auto Park Assist
Auto-park systems are now available in a number of imported cars, with Ford Australia pushing this feature strongly. These use sensors or cameras to detect a suitable parking space and combine with the driver to safely park the car. Most auto park systems are currently in small to medium sedans where the problem of parking is significantly less than it is for the driver of a large family car, so it’s great to see the Commodore using them.
According to Holden, the Auto Park Assist fitted standard across the VF Commodore range including the Ute and WN Caprice, is the largest GM car to have such a system. It can be used to park in either parallel or right-angle parking spaces with the driver operating the throttle and brake and the car’s computer doing the steering.
Reverse Traffic Alert
One feature that will appeal to any every driver who’s ever been stuck, parked forward, between a couple of big SUVs in a supermarket car park. The Reverse Traffic Alert system uses the radar sensors in the rear fascia to send both a visual and audible alert if, when the Commodore is being reversed, it detects a vehicle approaching from either side of the car within a distance of 25 metres. It operates on angled parking as well as driveways. Love it!
IsoFix Child Seat Mounting
An advanced method of mounting child seats that locks the seats into a set of anchor points instead of through rear seat belts. Any parent who watches the Holden crash test video and sees how much more secure their children will be is likely to immediately change over. That is, if their car has IsoFix mountings, because the stupidity of regulators in Australia meant they were illegal here for many years. All VF Commodore sedan, Sportwagon and WN Caprice models have three IsoFix child seats anchors although at this stage they are awaiting ADR approval.
Additional safety features such as Enhanced Voice Recognition, Bluetooth hands-free telephone and text messaging to voice operate in conjunction with a range of fascinating new features through Holden’s MyLink system which is standard in every VF Commodore and WN Caprice model.
The large 8-inch colour touch screen is placed at the top-centre of the dashboard to minimise the amount of time diverted from the road. Included among the features it operates are satellite navigation with traffic management; Siri voice commands; Smart phone integration with embedded apps such as the Pandora music and Stitcher worldwide radio access.