Holden Calais V-Series Redline Edition 2011 Review

February 25th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Holden’s Calais has always been an interesting prospect particularly in V8 form. Like a nightclub bouncer wearing a three-piece suit, there are two distinct sides to the picture. The Calais represents Holden’s luxury Commodore offering but also has the brawny V8 powerplant shared with the more sports focused SS. High-spec trim, loads of equipment and eight-cylinder performance haven’t always stitched together tidily for Holden, but this Calais could be different. With the recent Series II upgrades and in its highest spec V-Series Redline Edition form this Calais is certainly ready to impress. Car and SUV gained entry to Holden’s opulent saloon to find out more.

Externally, the Calais has always been lower key than some of its Commodore stablemates, that hasn’t changed with the Series II model. It has a nicely rounded, less-is-more look that skips the bulky body kit and boot spoiler. Instead, a premier feel is largely created by subtle chrome trim around the window line and in the door handles and other areas. The Series II updates focus mostly on the Calais front end where new headlights, lower air intake and a blinging grille look modern and classy. Being a Redline Edition our test vehicle had 19-inch polished alloy wheels that packed the pumped guards nicely and combined with the Redline badging let all know that this is one chic Commodore. Continue reading “Holden Calais V-Series Redline Edition 2011 Review” »

Holden reveals Series II Captiva – on sale in March

February 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Holden has unveiled its new Series II Captiva range just over a week before it goes on sale in NZ on March 1st. During a press event in Australia’s Yarra Valley Holden officially revealed the facelifted Series II Captiva and let keen journalists have some time behind the wheel.

Both the Captiva 5 and the larger Captiva 7 has received a interior and exterior styling tweaks and the range gets new powertrains with modern petrol and diesel engines mated to six-speed transmissions. These changes will combine to give the Series II Captiva even wider appeal.

The higher-performing new generation petrol and diesel engines combined with strongly competitive pricing is the big story for the updated Captiva. There’s more power on tap across the range, complemented by fuel efficiency gains on all models.

The seven-seat Captiva 7 range now offers three new powertrain options including a price-leading 2.4 litre four-cylinder petrol variant, a 2.2 litre turbo diesel and the Commodore-proven, Australian-built 3.0 litre Spark Ignition Direct Injection (SIDI) V6.

Captiva 5 buyers get the choice of a turbo diesel powerplant for the first time while refinements to all Series II models mean quieter cabins and improved ride and handling quality. Continue reading “Holden reveals Series II Captiva – on sale in March” »

Holden Commodore SV6 2011 Review

February 11th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It wasn’t that long ago when those who wanted a hard performing large sedan simply had to pony up for the eight-cylinder model. But with continuing advancements in V6 engine technology those days are now history. Case and point is Holden’s recently updated Commodore SV6 that flies the flag for sports style and V6 performance within the wider Commodore range. The SV6 has taken some time to step out of the shadow of the more coveted SS Commodore but with an updated design and impressive fuel economy the SV6 isn’t just making up the numbers — it’s come to play. To find out more Car and SUV got into the driver’s seat of the SV6 to do the sums and work out if six can ever be greater than eight.

Previously, Holden’s sports-focused six-cylinder has been little more than a dress up job with some larger rims and a kit borrowed from the SS. That has changed with the Series II updates and although the styling remains suitably aggressive it’s a new powertrain that has made a big difference. Under the SV6’s bonnet lies Holden’s recently developed 3.6-litre SIDI (Spark Ignition Direct Injection) V6 engine. It’s a smooth and powerful unit that delivers 210kW of power and a full 350Nm compliment of torque. These are impressive figures for a naturally aspirated six and have been made possible by the SIDI system. The engine has fuel injectors in the combustion chamber with a high-pressure fuel rail sending transporting the juice. This creates a stronger detonation helping develop more grunt while improving fuel economy. It’s a modern engine that has significantly reduced emissions over its predecessor and can achieve a 9.8l/100km fuel economy figure with 91RON petrol. Continue reading “Holden Commodore SV6 2011 Review” »

Holden Omega SII Sportwagon 2011 Review

January 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Holden station wagons are known to many Kiwis as the quintessential family hauler, which when mentioned can easily trigger nostalgia and stories of camping trips away. Able to accommodate mum, dad the kids and even the dog there has never been any doubt of the Holden wagons practical value. However, times change and now Holden’s large wagon needs to compete not just against other wagons but also SUVs and crossover vehicles. The only way to stay ahead is to retain the traditional practicality while placing extra focus on aesthetics and fuel economy. The VE Series Commodore Sportwagon has done just that and the base-model Omega has an extra weapon — price. After a mid-cycle refresh the new Series II Omega is looking better than ever but can it put a stop to buyers deserting wagons for crossover vehicles. Car and SUV spent a week playing happy families with the latest Omega Sportwagon to find out.

The new Series II upgrades have been particularly kind to the Omega and while it remains the budget model in the Commodore range the once large gap between itself and the other model variants has closed up. Visually, the Omega is looking sharp, the updates have brought subtle changes to the front end including a larger chrome-rimmed grille and new yet familiar-looking headlights. At the rear, changes include chrome detailing and a revised boot lid with integrated aerodynamic spoiler. You can forget any no frills steel wheels as well because the Omega comes sporting a set of 7-spoke 16-inch alloys. While the alloys don’t quite fill the large guards they add largely to the huge improvement in presentation. Overall, the styling is spot on, the Omega exterior offers no clues to its base-model status, it also has some fine detailing like colour coded caps on the side mirrors and black painted dual exhaust tips. Continue reading “Holden Omega SII Sportwagon 2011 Review” »

HSV founder Tom Walkinshaw passes away, aged 64

December 14th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Tom Walkinshaw, founder of Holden Special Vehicles and a career veteran in racing and performance car circles, died yesterday at the age of 64 after battling lung cancer.

Scottish-born Walkinshaw packed a wide variety of accomplishments into his lifetime and his racing history included a career as an F1 team manager and owner at Benetton and Arrows, along with time spent as a driver in Formula 2, Le Mans and in touring car championships. He was also the owner of English rugby club Gloucester.

In Australia, Walkinshaw was heavily involved in local motorsport and his exploits included a Jaguar-sponsored assault on the Bathurst 1000, the birth of Holden Special Vehicles in 1987, the creation of the Holden Racing Team (HRT) in 1988 and a swag of V8 Supercar titles.

Holden Chairman and Managing Director Mike Devereux today paid tribute to Holden Special Vehicles and Holden Racing Team owner and founder Walkinshaw in saying, “On behalf of the men and women at Holden, I’d like to extend our deepest sympathies to Tom’s family, friends and co-workers across the world. For more than 20 years Tom’s pursuit of excellence helped forge our brand’s reputation as a performance leader both on and off the track through the creation of Holden Special Vehicles and the Holden Racing Team. From the original 1988 Group A Commodore that will forever be known as a “Walkinshaw” to the extraordinary W427 20 years later, Tom’s work was truly iconic. His contribution not only to Holden, but the automotive industry is legendary and will never be forgotten.”

Will the next Commodore be front-wheel-drive?

December 13th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Holden wouldn’t dare take the Commodore front-wheel-drive would they? At one time this mere suggestion would have had Commodore fans spitting up their beer in disbelief, but in the current automotive climate it’s not so far-fetched.

Since 1978, the Commodore has been roaring around wearing body styles ranging from coupe and sedan to wagon and ute, with Holden selling over 44,000 units last year in Australia alone. While the Commie has been staunchly a rear-wheel drive vehicle, new rumours are surfacing that the front-engine/rear-drive layout may not be in the cards for much longer.

The next-generation Commodore is due to appear by 2015 and it’s possible that General Motors may switch it to just another boring front-wheel driver. Why? For increased fuel-efficiency something that is desperately needed for the Commodore to stay alive in the future and the front-wheel drive platforms are the ones set up to deliver the highest fuel efficiency.

There are unconfirmed reports that the next-gen Commodore could ride on the Super Epsilon II platform, which it will potentially share with GM’s next Chevrolet Impala and the upcoming Cadillac XTS.

A front driving Commodore is a hard pill to swallow for enthusiasts and while we can all understand the reasons behind the change, how damaging would it really be for the Comodore brand?

Watch the Chevrolet Volt be built in two minutes (+video)

December 3rd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

What would we do without time lapse video footage? Watch long and arduous tasks in real time – definitely not. The lastest door opened by this new technology allows us to watch the construction of the new 2011 Chevrolet Volt, from beginning to end. It takes less than two minutes to see the entire production process from when the first pieces of metal are welded on to the chassis to when the car is first started and driven off the production line.

The Volt is an interesting model and represents the first range-extended hybrid vehicle to enter production. It’s being built at GM’s Hamtramck assembly plant in Detroit, USA where production is now up to full speed. The first deliveries of the car are heading out to American customers later this month.

Holden are working on rebadging the Volt and bringing it here to NZ in 2012, click here to find out more.

Check out the time lapse video below. Continue reading “Watch the Chevrolet Volt be built in two minutes (+video)” »

South African tuner builds high-power Holden/Chevy ute

November 12th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

While their rugby may of turned to jelly that’s still not going to stop the men of South Africa from enjoying hairy-chested V8 sports utes. One of the meanest ute machines to be conceived over there is a high-powered version of what we call the Holden SS Ute but is badged in S.A as the Chevy Ute SS.

Turning the screws is South African tuner LupiniPower which has pumped up this Chevy pickup to an output of 399 kW with 799 Nm of twist from the supercharged 6.0 litre V8 power plant. Performance is very impressive with the 0 to 100 km/h sprint taking just 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 282 km/h.

LupiniPower also provides a suspension ‘tweak’ for better handling and race-spec front disc brakes and calipers. Packing the guards are 20-inch alloy wheels, with 8.5 x 20-inch rims at the front and 10 x 20-inch at the back, wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza RE050 ultra-high performance tyres. A full Bilstein suspension and a limited-slip differential for can be fitted as an option.

All this power and those fancy Chevy badges don’t come cheap and the tuner’s all-inclusive price for the SportUte SS is $117,000 NZD. Continue reading “South African tuner builds high-power Holden/Chevy ute” »