The Commodore Omega has long been seen as the budget base model brother to the rest of the range. A true fleet special used by sales reps and the Police to help make sales calls or collar crooks. Being used in this capacity probably won’t change for the Omega but what has changed is the addition of a new engine and gearbox for the 2010 model year. Is this update enough to push the Omega further into the consciousness of the private car buyer? Car and SUV spent a week searching for evidence with the upgraded Holden Omega.
The 2010 updates to the Commodore range are all about the new powertrains and the Omega has benefitted from a new six-cylinder engine. Codenamed LF1 the new motor has a 3.0-litre capacity and a 210kW power output with 290Nm of torque. It’s a modern bent-six and is equipped with Holden’s fancy Spark Ignition Direct Injection (SIDI) system that directly injects fuel into the combustion chamber. The result is more power from less fuel.
Compared to the outgoing engine there is a power increase of 10kW but a 20Nm drop in torque because of the new units smaller capacity. Anyone who thinks this will make evading the Police easier is mistaken because the new engine has some pace and accelerates the Omega smoothly and with strength. It’s also very flexible, remaining well mannered in stop start traffic but still capable of decent mid-range grunt making for confident overtaking at open road speeds.
The archaic four-speed auto box in the outgoing Omega was never going to match up well with the new SIDI engine so Holden has fitted a new six-speed automatic gearbox. The GM developed unit offers a massive improvement in performance and refinement. It works effortlessly, shifts quickly has a sports mode and a tiptronic manual change option for sporty driving.
The new powertrain combined with low rolling-resistance tyres has resulted in a 12% increase in fuel economy to a class leading 9.3l/100km combined. With a 73-litre tank the Omega can achieve an impressive theoretical 785km range on urban/motorway driving.
In terms of suspension it’s set very soft and maintains a comfortable feel on a variety of road surfaces. The side effect of this set-up is some body roll on tight corners but the Omega is an ideal vessel for motorways and straight open roads. Ride quality is generally very good with the new engine providing only a mellow hum and little wind noise enters the cabin.
Although the engine and gearbox have been fully replaced changes to the Omega’s exterior are minimal. The new SIDI badging provides an obvious indication of the upgraded underpinnings with twin exhausts out back offering another clue. It’s a shame that exterior changes couldn’t be made to back up the new mechanicals as the VE Commodore shape has been around four years now and could use a refresh.
It’s a similar story inside the Omega cabin where there are no updates with all switchgear and materials carrying over. While you couldn’t call it bare bones it’s a basic trim level and some of the plastics don’t have a quality feel. That said, it’s a very usable layout, everything is on hand and the high mounted display screen is easily read. The instrumentation is top notch and includes a handy multi-function screen that displays a variety of vehicle information.
The Omega doesn’t escape the wide A-pillars that have been a constant criticism for the VE Commodore, and they remain distracting. The cabin has good space on offer for front and rear occupants and the back seat has the width and leg room to pack three adults in comfort. The front seats are supportive and finished in a durable cloth.
For a base model vehicle the Omega comes with a excellent equipment list including 16-inch alloys, single CD stereo with six-speakers, adjustable steering column (tilt and reach), air-con, electric windows and mirrors, electric drivers’ seat, cruise control, auto headlights, trip computer and an alarm system.
The Commodore range is strong on safety and the Omega benefits from all the same features as its more expensive siblings. Standard kit includes ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, stability control with traction control, seatbelt pretensioners and six airbags ready to pop.
Is the Omega a more attractive prospect to private buyers? The answer is without doubt, yes. The body is all the same but the new engine and gearbox has been a major heart transplant for this model and it’s given it an entirely new driving character. The engine has solid six-cylinder pull and offers very good fuel economy. Matched up to the refined six-speed transmission it’s a winning powertrain. The exterior and interior aesthetics could use a freshen up but the equipment list is long and all safety bases are covered.
Overall, the repowered Omega is a solid choice even as the VE Commodore reaches the later stages of its life cycle. You don’t need to be a cop or a sales rep to get good motoring from the Omega so if you’re on a budget and want an economical large sedan then take a closer look.
What we like:
- Strong modern V6
- Refined transmission
- Good equipment level for base model
What we don’t like:
- No exterior updates
- Mixed quality interior plastics
- Thick A-pillars
Words and Photos: Adam Mamo
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Holden Commodore Omega (2010) – Specifications
3.0L 60-degree Double Overhead Cam V6 with 4 valves per cylinder. Twin knock control sensors with individual cylinder adaptive control. On-board diagnostics. Spark Ignition Direct Injection (SIDI)
Capacity (cc) 2986
Compression Ratio 11.7
Power 190kW @ 6700rpm
Torque 290Nm @ 2900rpm
Exhaust System Dual exhaust outlet
Petrol 91 RON ULP. Note that using 95 RON (PULP) or higher may result in improved engine performance and efficiency
Brakes Four wheel disc. Ventilated discs — front and rear. Twin piston alloy front caliper, single piston alloy rear caliper Incorporating: Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Electronic Brake Assist (EBA), Traction Control System (TCS)
Front: Direct acting stabiliser bar. Coil spring
Rear: Multi-Link Independent Rear Suspension (IRS). Coil spring. Stabiliser bar
Steering: Variable ratio rack and pinion
Turn Circle: 11.4m