It is a bold call but the new VF Commodore is a world class large car, it is just a pity that the market for these vehicles has been shrinking. Maybe the VF can turn that around. The base architecture of the previous VE model Commodore are the foundations for the VF but with a restyling of the exterior sheet metal and a "clean sheet of paper" approach to the interior design it has really transformed the Commodore.
Value for money
Holden engineers have raided the GM technology bins and loaded the VF with standard features while at the same time the marketers have ripped at least $5,000 out of the price compared to the outgoing VE model. The 8 model range starts with the Evoke $34,990 and doesn't seem to deserve the "entry level" label as it has a very generous range of standard features of which include; electric hand brake, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera, alloy wheels and dual zone climate control just to name a few. But the biggest add on is the auto parking system that will gives hands free parking, which for some will take the anxiety out of parallel parking, The range continues and so do the features to $35,990 for the SV6; the Calais from $39,990; the Calais-V from $46,990; and then the SS and SS-V from $41,990 and $45,490 respectively. The Omega and Berlina badges have been laid to rest, the Caprice still sits at the top as the flagship and is also available as Caprice-V, the V6 Caprice only comes as an LPG fuelled vehicle. The roll back on pricing ranges from $5000 to $9000 which should keep the Evoke and SV6 under the $40k drive-away threshold.
Design and Function
Externally the front of the VF has had some subtle treatment of the grille and headlights, along with some very clever style lines formed within the aluminium bonnet. But it's at the rear of the sedan that the changes are most noticeable with completely different tail lights and an aero dynamic boot lip formed as part of the aluminium boot lid. Holden have been able to get a weigh reduction of almost 40 kg in the Commodore with most of coming from the lighter aluminium bonnet and boot lid. The interior of the VF is where the design team has put most of their effort with extensive ergonomic improvements like cruise control functions now on the steering wheel, window switches moved to the doors rather than in the centre console, temperature read outs on the climate control knobs and also very importantly the user friendly and functional 8" touch screen central Infotainment system. Bluetooth, audio streaming, advanced voice recognition, Siri compatibility, Pandora and Stitcher radio applications are but a few of the interactive features of what Holden call the MyLink system.
The VF Commodore also offers the ability to use Flex Fuel (Ethanol blend at a maximum of 85%) on all models. Also, LPG dedicated models can be found in Evoke, SV6 and Caprice V6.
The VF's safety hasn't been overlooked with a 5 star ANCAP safety rating and the suite of blind spot, collision warning and reverse traffic alert equipment available on higher level models. Daytime Running Lamps are on all models except the Evoke and the Calais includes lane-departure warning, a forward-collision alert and a head-up display.
On the road
Gains have been made in all areas of on road performance. The engines are smoother and quieter. There are three engines on offer with the 3.0L and 3.6L V6's dedicated to the Evoke, SV6 and Calais. The 6.0L V8 sits in the SS, SS-V, Calais-V and also the Caprice. The Holden engineers have re-programmed the 6 speed automatic transmission to deliver much more intuitive shifts to insure that the greatest use of the available engine torque. The end result is that the transmission detects when a driving style changes and when engine braking is required. Also in Sports mode, the transmission shifting becomes more performance orientated and works extremely well on hilly, twisty roads where higher levels of engine braking and gear selection are required. And thanks to new electric power steering across the range the steering is more precise, reacting effortlessly to quick steering wheel inputs and there is none of the low speed steering "shudder" commonly associated with hydraulic systems. The Auto Park system also had to have electric steering in place for it to be introduced. The steering changes plus a variety of four suspension tunes over the VF range have vastly improved the handling of the VF. Cabin noise has been extensively improved with specially designed windscreen and better acoustic door sealing.
Holden has much riding on the success of the new model and the good work the Holden engineers have done to make this the best Holden made should make it competitive again.
Holden VF Commodore Sedan SV6 Automatic Sedan: