Holden_Calais_frontWe reckon the Holden Tourer wagon will be the one buyers will opt for, preferring it to the five-door hatchback. Why? See the Styling section of this review for details, but let’s give it a general look over to start with.

Tourer is a European Opel design but features a V6 engine specific to Australia, all Euro models have a turbo four-cylinder.

It competes mainly with European high-riding wagons such as Audi Allroad, VW Alltrack and Volvo Cross Country, as well as the Japanese wagon with the very Aussie name, Outback.

Though bulky SUVs are all the rage at the moment we have talked to owners who have been a little regretful about buying one. Saying they miss the better handling and smoother ride they have been accustomed to in regular station wagons.

Based on the standard Commodore station wagon, the Tourer is longer due to larger bumpers. Calais Tourer, as tested, is long, low and sleek, with a nice slope of the roof. You wouldn’t call it a coupe-wagon, but it comes close. The deep swages in the sides add to the sleek effect.

The black-plastic wheelarch surrounds add a toughness to the look as well as providing protection if you do take a Tourer into a mild off-road area.

Controlled through an 8-inch touchscreen the Calais Tourer provides Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; AM, FM and DAB+ radio.

As part of the Australianisation of the radio, emphasis was placed on reception at long distances. Ours is a big country and few radios in European sourced cars can hold their signals in the outback. Sadly, we couldn’t spare to time to go for a long trip west from our base on the Gold Coast, maybe next time.

The 3.6-litre V6 is an updated version of the one previously fitted to the Australian-built Commodore and Calais. It now produces 230 kW and 370 Nm.

A high-tech nine-speed automatic sits beside the engine. All-wheel-drive and a 20 mm higher ride height give it added ability if you want to do some mild off-road exploring.

Like all models in the new ZB Commodore range the Calais has a five star ANCAP rating.

Passive safety features in the Calais include auto emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, blind-sport monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

A reversing camera and rear parking sensors are handy in any vehicle, particularly one that’s over five metres long. This Tourer is one of the largest vehicles currently on the market.

It has two IsoFix attachment points, but three would have been better.


Though it’s slightly-narrower than the previous VF station wagon, the new ZB Tourer is almost as spacious inside, with good seating for four adults, five if the three in the back aren’t too wide.

The front seats are large and comfortable, those in the rear provide good legroom and can be folded down 40:20:40 to provide added luggage space.

Major instrument dials are rather small and look a little lost in the large dash, but are easy enough to see.

The 3.6-litre V6, nine-speed auto, all-wheel-drive powertrain gives it plenty of punch and because you don’t have the lag inherent in a turbocharged engine it produces virtually instantaneous throttle response. Some may find it almost too sudden in its off-the-line characteristics but we really love it as it’s very old-style Holden.

The V6 makes light work of overtaking as you spend a minimum amount of time on the wrong side of the road.

However, it can be thirsty beast with consumption in the 11 to 14 litres per hundred kilometres range around town even when driven sensibly. On motorways and easy-paced country trips you can get in under nine litres per hundred. Should be better.

This big Holden Tourer can corner at far higher speeds than most owners are ever likely to attempt. The all-wheel-drive gives the V6 engine plenty of torque to the ground should you wish to hustle it along.

Ride comfort is generally good, though there are times some may find it firmer than they like. Try for yourself during your pre-purchase test drive and take it on any rough surfaces you’re likely to be routinely driving on.

There is some tyre noise on coarse-chip surfaces, but we have driven many upmarket European cars that produce more than the new Calais and Commodore. Well done to the local engineering teams that have tuned the car to suit our needs.

Calais Tourer doesn’t have the option of a four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine that’s offered in most other models. A pity because that lighter motor means less weight in the front and even more pleasant handling.

Okay, so the Tourer is the heaviest vehicle in the range and perhaps Holden engineers did test it – in Opel format – and decided it wasn’t suited for Oz.

Forget these huge SUVs and pickup trucks that are clogging our roads these days. Holden Calais Tourer gives you a stylish station wagon that’s got added ground clearance (146mm, up 18mm) on the standard wagon so it can be used for mild off-road areas, exploring forest trails and the like. Don’t know if we would take it onto a beach, though…


SPECIFICATIONS (Holden Calais Tourer 3.6-litre V6 petrol five-door wagon)

Calais V6 AWD: $45,990 (automatic)
Calais-V V6 AWD: $53,990 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Holden dealer for drive-away prices.

Capacity: 3.640 litres
Configuration: V6
Maximum Power: 235 kW @ 6800 rpm
Maximum Torque: 381 Nm @ 5200 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 9.1 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 212 g/km

DRIVELINE: Nine-speed automatic

Length: 5004 mm
Wheelbase: 2829 mm
Width: 1863 mm
Height: 1525 mm
Turning Circle: 11.1 metres
Kerb Mass: 1573 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 62 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Three years / 100,000 kilometres

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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