The NEXT Commodore

The NEXT Commodore

With the imminent closure of Australian vehicle production, the words ‘last’ and ‘final’ have been thrown around a lot in reference to Australian produced vehicles.

And while they may be fair, more so in the case of some vehicle lines than others, for Holden, neither word is meant to be uttered.

“We are very precise about how we refer to this car,” Holden New Zealand managing director Kristian Aquilina says of the VFII Commodore update. “It is Holden’s next Commodore.”

“We made a commitment to keep this iconic car exciting and relevant for Kiwi motorists, and that is exactly what we have done. This is the vehicle that our Commodore customers have been asking for.”

“We will release a next Commodore, and one offer that and one after that…” he explains. “Albeit in a different form to what we have now.”

Holden is still not saying what form that will be, but it is widely expected to be a locally-tweaked version of Opel’s next generation Insignia.

But for now Holden fans can continue to enjoy a rear-wheel-drive sports sedan, and with this update, a little more noise thrown in.

Most of the Commodore range remains untouched, except for lighting tweaks.

Much of the change is at the top end of the range, with the introduction of the more-powerful LS3 V8, already seen here in HSV form. V8 models are now faster, louder, brasher.

“We wanted to go with something that particularly with the V8 was not just about the driving experience Commodore is famous for, but a more multi-sensory experience,” Aquilina says.

V8 models now get a new bi-modal exhaust, developed in-house at Holden, and a sound generator that pipes induction noise into the cabin.

The drivetrain option currently makes up around 25% of NZ Commodore volume, with Aquilina hoping that will increase into the 30s.

“Even in times of high fuel prices V8 sales tend to defy logic,” he says. “If people want a V8, they just buy it.”

The 6.2-litre LS3 delivers 304kW – up from 270kW in the old model – of power and 570Nm of torque. The Mexican-built engine comes at a slight cost on the fuel side – using an additional litre per 100km travelled.

Holden’s engineers have redesigned the Redline sedan model’s rear suspension stabiliser bar and in conjunction with a reduction in rear spring rate and returned dampers, have been able to achieve improvements to both overall ride, comfort and handling. Redline Sportwagon and Ute also benefit from the revised damper tuning, resulting in enhanced ride comfort.

There are new brake options. V8 buyers can now option the same brake package as found on police vehicles, while the SS-V Redline model now boasts Brembo brakes on all four wheels.

Holden’s lead development engineer, Amelinda Watt, explained to journalists how the new exhaust system was locally developed, as opposed to using already available after-market options.

The system is activated using a button on VFII’s 8” colour touch screen and intelligently detects driver input.

The result is an intoxicating rumble, with crackling and popping on a trailing throttle.

To create a more involving exhaust note inside the car, Holden has introduced the newly invented ‘Baillie Tip’, which consists of a unique opening in the exhaust that reverberates sound back through the exhaust towards the cabin, increasing the overall sound level up to 10%.

Holden’s chief engineer, Andrew Holmes, says the ‘Baillie Tip’ was an integral piece of VFII’s new sound character, and the naming of it is a fitting tribute to its creator, Dr. David Baillie, who succumbed to Leukemia earlier this year.

All new VF sports models get an updated fascia that is more aggressive, but also functional. Venting allows air to pass through cooling brakes and mitigating the aerodynamic drag caused by the car’s large wheel arches. New bonnet vents on V8 models allow heat to escape.

On a model basis, Evoke remains unchanged, SV6 gets a passive entry, passive start system, the new front fascia, new 18-inch alloys, and new LED tail lamps on the wagon.

The SS gains the new V8 and exhaust, the passive entry, passive start system, new look front and hood scoops, new 18-inch wheels and the option of the performance brakes.

The SSV gets the same with the addition of a colour heads-up display system, new 19-inch wheels, clear tail-lamps on the sedan, LED on the wagon, and added rear Brembo brakes.

Calais receives the same V8 additions amount subtle tweaks, as does the Caprice V.

Pricing for the range still opens at $49,990; SV6 drops $500, while all V8 models go up by 1500.

AutoTalk got the chance to drive the range in Adelaide this week – including up a tight, twisty Hill Climb track.

the Commodore continues to feel exciting, and up-to-date despite its ageing platform, and is immensely comfortable while still rewarding to drive.

The bi-modal exhaust is a hoot – and gives owners the ability to enjoy and show-off what they are packing under the hood while keeping activities to socially-responsible speeds.

The SS-V Redline deserves more attention as a car that can carry out daily duties, while still being fun for the occasional track day on weekends, particularly the ‘Competition Mode’ in its driver assistance system, which allows a level of tail-out hero antics that will flatter the skills of many drivers.

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