Holden: 2014 VF Commodore VF Evoke sedan review

Holden: 2014 VF Commodore VF Evoke sedan review

holden-commodore-evoke-sedan-2014-frontThe power was out because we had a proper storm. Proper storms are always good for debris-strewn photos, and that’s what you’ve got: the brilliant red of the Evoke against the green and brown of a billion leaves and twiglets strewn over West Auckland’s usually grey tarmac.

holden-commodore-evoke-sedan-2014-front-interiorI drove a Commodore of the same ilk (VF) across the Kawekas from Taupo to Napier one night last year during 120kph winds and trees bending over the road like they were bowing in my presence, and it was rock solid. There’s the same sense of solidity in the Evoke. Things maybe blustery around you, but when you’re inside it, you’re in the eye of the storm.

On the damp, leaf-strewn roads of the morning after it was easy to provoke the traction control into clamping its electronic fist around any wheelspin and tail-happy happiness. The three-litre SIDI direct injection V6 delivers 185kW and 290Nm through a six-speed automatic gearbox. It’s all very tried-and-trusted and, if you’re not too heavy with the right foot, fairly economical for a large car. Holden quotes 8.3l/100km; I managed 9.4l/100km on holden-commodore-evoke-sedan-2014-instrumentsa return journey between Auckland City and Titirangi. If you love LPG there’s a 180kW 3.6-litre V6 available.

Driver comfort is excellent. The seat fabric seems functional and hard-wearing, while the seat squab itself is soft. There’s not a huge amount of lateral support. Ergonomically everything falls to hand, and the instruments and information cluster are well-positioned and clear. The gearbox has Active Select so you can choose to change gears yourself, but there are no paddle holden-commodore-evoke-sedan-2014-multimediashifters.

Electronic power steering is standard. This is coming of age because usually it’s a bit devoid of feel, but Holden seems to have got it right. The turn in is nice and positive and there’s good feedback even in the centre. This system also saves 0.2l/100km.

The whole Commodore range gets the excellent MyLink technology and infotainment system. It’s an 8-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dash, and it gives you control over a multitude of features. Holden is leading the way in terms of app connectivity. While you can stream sounds and talk on your phone using Bluetooth, the features come alive when you plug an iPhone in via USB. If you use Pandora or Stitcher, the apps holden-commodore-evoke-sedan-2014-rear-seatsare available in-screen.

There’s also full control over your playlists and music, and Siri Eyes Free which enables voice control of your phone (if you have an iPhone 4S or 5), including adding reminders, selecting music, dictating text messages and having them read to you (the last two of which might be technically illegal in New Zealand as far as my understanding of the Road Code goes seeing as you are ‘accessing services’.)

If you don’t have an iPhone it will support up to 10,000 songs on a USB device. Connecting your phone via Bluetooth is straightforward, and Holden seems to have improved the speed of connection. Typically I’ve found Holden products to be sluggish to connect via Bluetooth to my iPhone 5, but the Evoke holden-commodore-evoke-sedan-2014-bootdidn’t take long each time.

The Commodore is a large car with a lot of cargo space and decent legroom for rear passengers. It’s a fraction under 5m long, but simple to park with Holden’s Automatic Park Assist which takes control in parallel and right angle parks.

The Evoke is the base model so you miss out on things like keyless entry and start, satellite navigation and heated seats, but you do get dual climate control, rear view camera, front and rear parking sensors and a remote engine start system. It scored 5 stars in the ANCAP crash test and comes with six airbags and Electronic Stability Control.

Has the time of the big car come because cars that used to be small are now big? When an Audi A3 is the same size as an A4 of 15 years ago (what used to be considered a medium/large car), how much bigger can ‘big’ cars get. Certainly there’s a lot of room in the Evoke – for a sedan, the boot is capacious at almost 500 litres.

I liked the Evoke – perhaps not as much as the Calais-V, because it’s missing a lot of the features – but it rides more comfortably on its 16-inch wheels with their fatter sidewalls. The stance delivers plenty of hard, chiselled muscle, and the inside delivers plenty of soft, cushiony bits.

Price: $49,990

Pros

  • Rock solid
  • Rides well – better than models above it

Cons

  • If you’ve driven the models above it, you’ll be jealous at their extra features


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