Holden Epica CDTI Diesel 2008 Review


A wise kiwi man once said, “it’s business¦ it’s business time.” When these words were uttered he may not have been thinking of the Holden Epica Diesel, but he should have, because the Epica isn’t just a car, it’s a business proposal. Like any good fictitious business proposal it requires a five-step guide to let potential buyers discover if the Epica is right for them.

Step One – Face Value. The Epica is a foreign commodity within the Holden range, as was the Vectra that it replaces in Holden’s mid-size sedan slot. The Epica is made in Korea under the Daewoo brand, but to think it was cheap because it’s Korean would be like assuming the Vectra was high class simply because it was European; it’s cheap because it’s priced for fleet buyers, with a specification that suits.  While the Vectra was distinctly Euro styled the Epica has a more visible Holden influence. Resembling an adolescent Commodore the Epica has familiar lines if not proportions. Handsome faced with curved headlights that wrap into the front fenders the Epica’s shape maintains straight edges all the way back to a boot line that sits high giving the vehicle an advanced stance.

Step Two — Insider Trading. The Epica’s interior is welcoming if not entirely blue chip. Dark fabrics stage mergers with matt silver plastics to create a corporate atmosphere that is acceptable for the price but lacking any true points of interest. The front seats are finished in a durable cloth and are comfortable with good side bolstering. The dash layout is easy to use but the climate controls are positioned very low and although basic to operate still create a distraction for the driver. The instrument display is large and easily read and the steering wheel has useful audio and cruise controls. A central LCD screen is mounted in the central control tower in overseas models, but it’s omitted for NZ; in its place is a strange, lidded storage box not shaped for any obvious purpose (other than to fit an LCD screen and related electronics).

The back seat offers decent legroom for passengers and boot capacity is a very useful 480litres.  Overall the Epica’s interior is functional and moderately sized but may lack the pizzazz to win over some investors.

Step Three- Power of economy. In the engine room a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel runs the show, shouting out 110kW of power and 320Nm of torque to the front wheels. Probably the biggest selling point of the Epica proposal is its economy, being capable of achieving 7.6l/100km combined. These figures would be very attractive to a buyer looking for a mid-size sedan that only sips on the fuel. While driving, the Epica’s diesel motor feels and sounds economical, almost refusing to be pushed hard and maintains low-revs while cruising.  Once the Epica is up to speed it is responsive and can offer some mid-range punch, but getting off the mark is slow. Throttle response is sluggish when accelerating from stationary; unfortunately this can make negotiating crossroads or areas where fast predictable acceleration is required, difficult.

Step Four- Balancing the books.  The Epica offers predictable front-wheel drive handling characteristics, grip is very good and the four disc brakes perform well. There is however very little sense of a sporting drive in the Epica and although the ride is reasonably supple when in a suburban role, at higher speeds road bumps and changing surfaces are more noticeable. That said, the Epica is well screwed together and while there is some road noise there were no rattles or knocks in the cabin. With a lot of torque going through the front wheels, there is good feedback through the steering, letting the driver feel in control. Once the Epica is off the mark the auto transmission is a very hard worker and it pays off in solid use of all the available power.

Step Five- Doing the maths. Priced at $37,490 the Epica isn’t going to bankrupt buyers and it has a good standard equipment list that includes six airbags, climate control, ABS and traction control.

Despite being well equipped the Holden Epica diesel isn’t an entirely convincing business proposal, but those who want to decrease fuel overheads and do some high mileage in relative comfort may be willing to sign on the dotted line. The Epica is potentially a very capable fleet car for businesses, but if it’s not business time then other proposals in mid-size sedan segment should be heard.

Click through to the next page for a full list of specifications

Price: from $37,490

What we like:

  • Good sized comfortable interior
  • Very economical
  • Grip

What we don’t like:

  • Slow throttle Response
  • Driver controls layout
  • Bumpy ride at cruising speeds

Holden Epica CDTI (2008) – Specifications


In-line SOHC 16 valve 4 cylinder. Cast Iron block, camshafts operating four valves per cylinder. Variable intake aluminium head. Twin balance shafts to reduce vibration. Variable-Geometry. Turbocharger for wider torque band. Charge Air cooler. High-Pressure Common-Rail Direct. Injection. Zero-maintenance Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF).

Bore x Stroke (mm): 83 x 92
Capacity (cc): 1991
Compression ratio: (:1) 17.5
Power (ECE, kW): 110kW @ 4000rpm
Torque (ECE, Nm): 320Nm @ 2000rpm
Gear ratios    6sp Auto
1st    4.449
2nd    2.908
3rd   1.893
4th   1.446
5th   1.000
6th   0.742
Reverse gear ratio — 2.871

Recommended petrol octane: Diesel
Petrol tank capacity (L): 65L
Steering: Speed sensitive power assisted rack and pinion
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) Incorporating: Traction Control System (TCS), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)


Front: Independent MacPherson Strut with coil springs and stabiliser bar.
Rear: Independent Multi-Link with coil springs and stabiliser bar.
Track (mm): Front: 1550  Rear: 1545
Turn circle (kerb to kerb, m): 10.78


Wheelbase (mm): 2700
Exterior dimensions (mm): Length Width Height 4805 1810 1450
Boot volume (L): 480
Towing (kg): 1,200 braked trailer.
Service: The complimentary inspection is due at 3,000km or 3 months (whichever occurs first). The first service is due at 15,000km or 12 months (whichever occurs first) and then every 15,000km or 12 months (whichever occurs first) since the last service.

Words, Adam Mamo, photography, Darren Cottingham

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