Holden: 2016 VF Series II Calais V Sportwagon V8

Holden: 2016 VF Series II Calais V Sportwagon V8

Holden (and Hyundai) quaintly refer to any mid-life makeover of their model ranges as the Series II, and generally, the changes are subtle and cosmetic, with perhaps a modicum more performance and a bit more specification.

For the VF Commodore Series II, which arrived late in 2015, not only were there were some styling tweaks and extra equipment, there was a rather substantial power upgrade on the V8 engine option.

2016 VF II Calais V8 engineProduction of the Commodore ends in 2017, so Holden has decided that it’s last ever large Aussie designed and built Sedan, Sportwagon, and Ute will have a fitting send off.

It threw out the previous 6-litre V8 opting for a 6.2-litre LS3 gen-four Chevy small block V8 with an additional 44kW of power than the smaller engine.

It’s the most powerful production series Holden yet built, thanks to 304kW of power, and torque output increases to 570Nm at 4400rpm.

2016 VF II Calais V8 drivers seatThe combined cycle consumption has increased to 12.9l/100km but with care and a reasonable amount of motorway running figures below 12l/100km are possible. Sitting in the urban crawl can see up to 18L/100km.

Thankfully, unlike the first round of VF V8 models which were much too quiet for my taste, Holden have added a bi-modal exhaust system and a mechanical sound enhancer into the VF Series II variants.

Buyers can option this V8 engine package on the Calais V Sportwagon, for an additional $7500 above the six-cylinder Calais V wagon (review here) at $76,490.

It’s an option which turns this ordinarily conservative looking family car (particularly in the shade of Bronze pictured here) into a snarling angry beast when you press the stop/start button.

2016 VFII Calais V8 tailgate openWhile it might seem like a subtle and cushy family hauler on the outside with its tastefully restrained use of chrome, the Calais V V8 ride and handles very well indeed.

The FE1 touring suspension and 19-inch wheel and tyre combination employed by the Calais V isn’t as sharp as the FE2 or FE3 setup found in the SS V or SS-V Redline variants, but it still offers good steering feel and turn in as well as a more compliant and comfortable ride.

You wouldn’t want the kids getting motion sickness on a family road-trip, and they won’t be in this car, but Mum or Dad can still enjoy their time behind the flat-bottomed steering wheel.

The mix of light Alcantara suede-type trim on the dashboard and door cards with the black leather upholstery is also a nice design touch that prevents the Calais V interior from becoming too funereal. Some of the knobs and switches are generic GM parts bin but they function well and that’s all that matters.

The music from the exhaust system is, frankly, bloody glorious and took me back to childhood days when a friend of the family owned an HQ Holden Premier 4.2-Litre V8 station wagon that had a big bore exhaust!

However, the only things in common with the Premier and the Calais V was their body shape, the Holden of 2016 differs hugely in the technical specification to that of 1974.

The tailgate has a soft close function, which was unheard of in 1974, as no doubt was the load securing net, luggage cover, 12-volt accessory socket, and four tie-down hooks. There are 895 litres of load space in the boot when measured from floor to ceiling with the rear seats in situ.

The luxuriously appointed Calais V also offers a raft of active safety features such as forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot assist, and rear cross traffic alert.

I was surprised, however, that active cruise control wasn’t on the menu!

Both front seats are heated in the Calais V while the driver’s seat has eight-way adjustment and a two-way lumbar support adjuster as well.

A colour head-up display is standard on VF Series II Calais V, SS V, and SS-V Redline variants along with the MyLink communication system, dual-zone air conditioning, satellite navigation, automatic wipers and the auto park assist feature.

The Commodore wagon variant has come a long way since Holden introducing the first mid-size vehicle to the market in 1979, the fleet and family car has morphed into a desirable daily driver.

Today the Calais V Sportwagon offers a cheaper alternative to rear-wheel-drive European sporting wagons from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and even Jaguar.

While it may not have prestige brand snobbery-value in Remuera, Herne Bay, Khandallah, or Fendalton, it will do nicely elsewhere.

But the stay of execution will soon finish and now is the time to secure one before it’s too late.

Price: As tested $83,990

Pros: Comfortable, well appointed, powerful, good value

Cons: Thirst (for some), badge value (for some), exhaust noise (for some),

Words and pictures:

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