Holden Sportwagon Series II SV6 2012 Review

Holden Sportwagon Series II SV6 2012 Review

Holden does a good job of making a station wagon look mean. The flared arches flex above the 18-inch alloys. A front splitter with fog lights caps off the aggressive nose, and strong lines are arrow-straight down the flank to a smoothly contoured rear.

Being the SV6, the heart of this Holden is a 3-litre SIDI direct injection V6 (which will take E85 biofuel), though you can opt for a 3.6-litre vapour injection LPG V6. The transmission is a six-speed auto with Active Select which matches the revs on downshifts for a smoother braking experience. The gearbox is

responsive enough for a car that doesn’t have sporting pretensions, and it drives the rear wheels.

Recent Holden Commodore models feel like they are enveloping you when you drive them, and the Sportwagon is no exception. The high shoulder line, thick steering wheel and slightly bucketed seats give you sense of being in the right place in the car.

Clever tricks include a forward-hinged tailgate which means you can park closer to what’s behind you and still get the boot open. It also creates more headroom as you are leaning into the boot. The retractable boot blind can be slid to an angled position for easier access to the boot contents. The boot floor is flush with the opening to make it easy to get items in and out.

The rear seats split 60/40 and fold flush to create a flat cargo area of 2000 litres. With the seats up it’s 895 litres. There is also a smaller storage compartment in the boot, plus bag hooks.

The entertainment and navigation systems are controlled using a large colour touch screen and buttons on the steering wheel. Bluetooth connectivity is standard for your phone and other enabled devices, and the system will play audio from USB devices, Apple devices and other MP3 players. Phone calls can be answered using buttons on the steering wheel.

You can rip 15 CDs worth of music onto the Sportwagon’s Holden-iQ internal flash drive. Music quality was good, not stellar, but with plenty of options to adjust the EQ to your preferences (which, when I get any press car always seems to be bass and treble turned up to the max).

The screen displays the reversing camera and satellite navigation system. The graphics in the sat nav aren’t as nice as some third-party systems, but still perform well. It attempts to notify you of known camera points, but this resulted in a lot of notifications where there didn’t seem to be any camera points around (that I knew of).

Between the rev counter and speedo there’s a small LCD that displays the trip computer and sat nav notifications (for example, local speed limits and whether you’re exceeding them or not, and turns coming up). This is a useful reminder if you are above the speed limit, especially in areas you’re unfamiliar with.

Safety features include 6 airbags, traction control, electronic stability control, ABS, and electronic brakeforce distribution.

The Sportwagon is only marred by two things. The brake pedal feel was very wooden – too much travel followed by the sensation of a block of balsa wood pushing against a granite bench. The braking system consists of discs on all four wheels so I expected a bit more of a progressive bite. The second is that the trick boot blind didn’t fully conceal the boot contents. They could be seen through the hand grip.

Holden has done some work on the fuel economy and engine performance using their SIDI (Spark Ignition Direct Injection) system. Despite producing a handy 210kW and 350Nm of torque it will return 9.8l/100km on the combined urban/extra-urban drive cycle.

The Sportwagon got put through its paces in the week I had it. The main trip was to Waipu Caves, Marsden Point and the surrounds where it performed well on gravel roads and highway driving. Fuel economy was good on the open road; slightly thirsty around town (to be expected). There were no complaints from my passenger about seat comfort. The driving position was excellent and the only thing I would change about it is the wooden brake pedal feel – perhaps some different pads might help. The large boot was convenient for our tramping gear, too.

Image-wise, the Sportwagon looks the part of a slightly pumped up station wagon and that is good in my opinion. It’s likely to find its main audience of guys very receptive to the styling, handling courtesy of the sports suspension, and the power and performance delivered.

Price: $52,360

Pros

  • Solid-feeling, practical station wagon
  • Reasonable performance

Cons

  • Brake pedal feel
  • Could do with more fuel saving tech, e.g. stop/start, to make it really appealing

Words: Darren Cottingham

Photos: Vanessa James and Darren Cottingham

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