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Car reviews - Holden - Commodore - Omega MY10 sedan

Launch Story

24 Nov 2009

HOLDEN’S days of producing a cosmetic – and occasionally technical – upgrade for the Commodore religiously every August are over.

Instead, the first major upgrade for the billion-dollar VE Commodore in more than three years revolves entirely around fuel economy.

And there’s no doubt the entry-level Commodore Omega’s new direct-injection 3.0-litre V6 delivers that in spades.

A claimed combined average of just 9.3L/100km makes the Omega 1.2L/100km more efficient than its fiercest rival in Ford’s base Falcon XT. Even with the Falcon’s optional ($2000) six-speed auto the Omega remains more than half a litre per 100km more economical, with Toyota’s Aurion at a similar disadvantage.

In terms of CO2 output and therefore environmental friendliness, Holden’s 3.0-litre V6 emits 30 grams per kilometre less than the Falcon and 12g/km less than the Aurion.

Applying further perspective to the efficiency of the new 3.0-litre Commodore, the Omega sedan is also more efficient than many compact SUVs such as the Honda CR-V automatic, while even the Omega Sportwagon is more frugal than automatic petrol versions of Ford’s Mondeo wagon.

Of course, official ADR 81/02 fuel consumption figures are one thing, but real-world experience is often another. But in this case the fuel consumption figures recorded by all journalists during an economy drive at last week’s MY10 Commodore launch only served to back up Holden’s economy claims.

Though one wag posted as little as 6.8L/100km during the final leg of the drive (by travelling at less than 80km/h on the still-windy backroad to Albury), most figures for the base Omega and Berlina sedans weren’t far above the 7.0L/100km mark, or around 1L/100km less than the official combined figure.

Yes, fuel consumption was considerably higher during the free-for-all first day of testing, which allowed us to stretch the new small-bore Commodore’s legs, but the numbers would undoubtedly have been much higher in the current 3.6-litre-litre Omega.

And the second day’s economy run took in mostly twisting and undulating backroads, including an extended gravel section, so we don’t doubt the accuracy of Holden’s economy claims.

In terms of performance, the 3.0-litre Omega is almost as impressive. A lower first gear ratio in the new six-speed auto – which brings immeasurable improvements over the outgoing Commodore’s dated four-speed auto when it comes to shift speed and quality – makes standing-start acceleration almost as brisk as with the Alloytec 3.6.

Off the record, Holden says the new 3.0 Omega is quicker than the 3.6 Omega it replaces and, with an extra 10kW (190kW) of peak power available, the new model not only feels at least as quick as before, but sounds sweeter than its thrashier 3.6 forebear.

But with just 290Nm of torque on tap at 2900rpm, the 3.0 V6’s 40Nm peak torque deficit was never going to allow it to feel as quick in the midrange as its predecessor.

Although the slick-shifting six-speed auto compensates for this when it comes to overtaking, the reduction in overall torque will be noticed at the boat ramp or the caravan park. Unsurprisingly, the Omega auto’s towing capacity drops by 500kg – from 2100 to 1600kg.

There’s no doubt the 3.0-litre Omega is a revver and not a grunter like the two-valve 3.8-litre Ecotec V6 that was pensioned off in 2004 but, in incremental terms, the transition from 3.6 to 3.0 seems less noticeable than the change from 3.8 to 3.6.

Okay, so the new 3.0-litre engine may well have been a disaster without the masking effect of the Falcon-matching six-speed auto, but it is direct injection that makes Holden’s smallest-capacity Commodore in 21 years feel crisp and responsive from idle and almost BMW-like in the way it spins freely to its 6700rpm cut-out.

There is still no redline on the Commodore’s tacho and towing duties will be better served by the upgraded 3.6 V6 in costlier SV6 or Calais models, but as far as having your cake and eating it too, the latest Commodore Omega is one of the tastiest fleet meals about.

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