March 5th, 2014 by Robert Barry
You could be forgiven for thinking that the new Barina RS is a track searing hot hatchback thanks to the current television ad that sees Greg Murphy revving the engine and screeching the tyres around the Highlands circuit in Cromwell.
Alas, do not be fooled by the power of the telly ad because the latest addition to the Barina hatch range is only a mild butter chicken rather than a scorching Vindaloo, its a warm hatch rather than a hot one, but nevertheless its still a very good steer that will curry favour with many.
By adding the 1.4-litre turbocharged engine from the Holden Cruze as well as tweaking the suspension package, upgrading the brake package to discs all-round and lowering the ride height, the Holden engineers, in conjunction with their US and Korean colleagues have created a sporty and responsive hatchback that is fun to drive in the city and beyond. Continue reading “Holden: Barina RS 2014 review” »
November 6th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham
Three friends and I headed to Hamilton and one of our road trip topics was riddles. You can cover some distance figuring out some serious conundrums and it’s better than playing I spy.
The situation the Commodore SS finds itself in is a conundrum, too. To all intents and purposes it’s a dinosaur; a heavy, front-engined, rear-wheel-drive V8 that doesn’t pretend that it will go off-road.
Taking a look at the supposedly more highly evolved competition you see entire genera of vehicles like compact SUVs and crossovers – they’re new and trendy. They’re ‘evolved’. We appear to have moved on from the 1980s and people don’t want big four-door sedans.
People are wrong. The Commodore is every bit as safe as an SUV with its 5-star ANCAP crash rating, it handles better due to its lower centre of gravity, for the performance it has comparable fuel economy with SUVs of similar acceleration, and at $61,490 you can’t get a ‘performance’ SUV. It’s not going to fit as much luggage, but it does come with a large boot that’s enough for four people’s gear (495 litres).
The Holden will park itself in parallel or right angle parks using Automatic Park Assist. You just need to control the throttle, brake and transmission. If you’re reversing out of a right angle park, the Reverse Traffic Alert warns you if a vehicle is approaching in your blind spots. And speaking of blind spots, when you are driving along, the Commodore constantly scans them and warns you using an orange light in each wing mirror if another vehicle might be in a place where you can’t easily see it. Continue reading “Holden Commodore SS 2013 Review” »
October 30th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham
With people still lapping up SUVs when cars will do the same job often better, Holden has added a baby SUV to its range to pull people away from the Suzuki SX4 and Ford Kuga and get its share of the buying public’s hard-earned sovereigns.
The South Korean-built compact SUV is available in other countries as the Chevrolet Trax or Opel Mokka, and it comes in two two-wheel drive versions, the LS and the LTZ. It’s based on the same platform as the Barina and takes its powertrain from the Cruze. That means you get a car that’s short and highly manoeuvrable that comes with a 103kW, 175Nm, 1.8-litre petrol engine and 6-speed automatic gearbox.
103kW isn’t that much to produce for a 1.8-litre engine but you really have to work it to get decent acceleration and that causes the engine to scream. And, it still doesn’t exactly light up the tyres in a frenzy of acceleration. It’ll cruise happily at highways speeds and drinks 7.6l/100km on the combined cycle – around average for a car this size. You can’t tell this, though, because Holden has omitted a trip computer, which is a suspicious choice. Continue reading “Holden Trax LS 2013 Review” »
September 27th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham
When there are 120kph winds forecast and you need to get across a mountain range, what car will you turn to? You definitely wouldn’t want to be driving one of those ‘popular’ SUVs because you’d be knocked around like Mohammed Ali was using you for sparring practice.
You also don’t want something small and light. No, you want something powerful, sleek and solid, like a BMW M6 or Audi R8. Or, if you only have $55,000 to spare rather than $250,000, this Holden Commodore SV6 will do quite nicely, too.
On that night I traversed the Kaweka Range from Taupo to Napier, the trees were bending like peasants would bow to an Emperor, and there was already significant foliage littering the road. Heavy rain was forecast and I’d brought the journey forward to avoid the likelihood of a slip. The big Commodore took a beating but rarely missed a beat. Sometimes the gusts were strong enough to push it a third of the way across the lane but, in general, it held onto the road admirably.
In fact, there was more grip than I expected, even for a heavy car in the wet. When I applied too much power, the traction control reined the back end in. With the limited slip differential, grip out of all types of corners was fantastic. Add to the LSD electronic stability control (ESC), anti-lock brakes (ABS), and sports suspension and it creates a formidable handling package.
Other electronics include trailer sway control, and hill hold control. There was more grip from the 245/45R18 tyres than you’d need to explore under most circumstances Continue reading “Holden Commodore SV6 2013 Review” »
August 23rd, 2013 by Darren Cottingham
Pleasantly surprised is what I was when I finally got in the Malibu. I had just been too busy to refresh myself with what the Malibu is all about and in my mind I was thinking is was (but hoping it wouldn’t be) a direct replacement for the decidedly average Epica. The Epica was quite a dreary car that we tested back in 2008 and the Malibu is anything but.
Taking a walk around the outside, there are some long lines that make this car look sleek. A rebadged Chevrolet Malibu, Holden bills it as a mid-sized car, but it gives the impression of being a large car. It’s also got that slight nose forward stance that delivers a bit of a sporty aura, and you can add those square afterburner taillights (á la Camaro) in to the design mix and you’ve got a rear end that’s visually distinct. There’s even a hint of BMW at the rear if you look from the side.
On the inside, the 7-inch MyLink touchscreen dominates the dashboard. The MyLink system comes with Bluetooth connectivity and built-in app technology – think streaming radio, for example – and the screen doubles as the display for the reversing camera and general vehicle controls. The screen itself conceals a convenient cubby hole for a bit of extra dashboard storage.
Storage in the boot is 545l. The boot is long and not that deep, and perhaps slightly compromised by the 73-litre fuel tank (usually you’d get 60-65 litres in a mid-sized car). The long boot eats into the rear legroom. Rear legroom is not cramped, but it’s not as good as, say, a Honda Accord.
Continue reading “Holden Malibu CDX 2013 Review” »
August 10th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham
The weight and thickness of the boot floor gives away that this Commodore can carry a serious amount of kit. Fold the rear seats flat and there’s enough room for a mosh pit of meerkats. I’d tell you exactly how much but Holden’s flash new website makes it really difficult to find any meaningful data (even though it looks nice).
Suffice to say that, if you were having problems attracting enough meerkats to fill it, you could use the space for something more productive. I assisted someone moving on the weekend using the Commodore’s capacious boot to cram a large number of items in. So far so good if you’re into carrying lots of gear.
To haul that gear you’ll need a strong engine and the Commodore Evoke comes with a 3-litre SIDI V6 bolted to a six-speed automatic transmission. It feels like a good gearbox and engine. You get 185kW and 290Nm, but the Holden is on the heavy side and it feels a bit restrained; like it’s being held back. The flip side is that there’s an aura and sense of solidity and, as I’ve said before, with a Commodore you do feel like it is enveloping you slightly while you are driving it, which further adds to the impressions of being protected by the car.
It handles well given its size, and rides comfortably on the 16-inch wheels. Holden has introduced a suite of major changes that improve refinement over the previous model. Noise, vibration and harshness levels are low at speed, and at idle the engine is barely noticeable. Put your foot down and the transmission takes on an almost supercharger-like whine. Even though there’s traction control, it’s completely unobtrusive in the dry.
Overall, even though this is the base model with its Continue reading “Holden Commodore VF Evoke Sportwagon 2013 Review” »
June 28th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham
Taking the Captiva 5 immediately after the Holden Cruze I was surprised at the difference in interior trim. The Captiva’s screens and controls look like they’re a few years older than the Cruze’s; does the rest of the car feel dated? Let’s find out.
Taking the Captiva up north to Tutukaka its on-road manners were quietly confident. Cornering and braking were Continue reading “Holden Captiva 5 LTZ 2013 – Review” »
June 25th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham
The only way to arrive at Fieldays is via jet boat or helicopter. It avoids the 20-minute queue into the car park and the resulting walk from several leagues away. We opted for the jet boat – a seven-minute blast along the Waikato with a wind chill of, well, frosty.
Despite the exhilaration and the paltry price of $20 return, it made me appreciate sitting in the Holden Cruze’s cosseting warmth as the outside temperature registered a number low enough that children of this age measure it in quarters Continue reading “Holden Cruze SRi Hatchback 2013 – Review” »