Car reviews - Holden - Epica - sedan range
Value for money, ride comfort, practicality
Room for improvement
Engines need more power, vanilla styling, dead steering feel
30 Apr 2007
‘Transport’ is the best way to describe the Holden Epica.
It’s comfortable, quiet and goes from A to B without fuss, but the Epica won’t seduce those seeking a spirited drive.
The latest Daewoo to wear a Holden badge is about as lively as wet cardboard and a current Camry offers a more involving drive, but that doesn’t make it a bad car.
Take into account all the gear, the price, the comfort and the practicality, and the Epica starts to make sense.
It is a decidedly vanilla-tasting car, with handling to match, but at least it has been tuned to Australian conditions.
Nearly seven years ago, this writer tested the Daewoo Magnus (the model the Epica is based on) in South Korea and can report the two cars feel quite different when it comes to handling.
The Daewoo was soft and spongey and disliked corners, where it would wallow and pitch.
The Epica has responded well to the damping changes and other work carried out by Holden engineers.
It rides the bumps with much more confidence and feels assured on Australian country roads, even the nasty ones.
The set-up is still on the soft side, but that is in line with where Holden is pitching the car.
It’s a cruiser, more likely to be the owner’s last car than their first.
The Epica’s steering feel is solid, but dead, with hardly any feedback.
That’s a shame, but the Epica is by no means a performance car.
The inclusion of standard traction control seems rather pointless, given this engine is hardly likely to muster up enough momentum to break traction.
As you wait for the car to gather pace, it’s easy to wonder why Daewoo didn’t just go the easy option and fit the original Magnus with a four-cylinder engine with similar grunt.
That said, both the 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre Epica variants are very smooth and also quiet when you are not stamping on the accelerator pedal.
There is nothing wrong with the gearboxes - the five-speed Aisin automatic is slick shifting unit and the manual is also crisp.
Practicality is a strong point for the Epica, with ample headroom and legroom for five occupants.
The boot is a reasonable size and many owners will appreciate the split-fold rear seat and the extra boot space it opens up, something the larger Commodore misses out on.
While the space-saver wheel is limited to 80km/h, it is at least wider than the wheel-barrow spares of many new cars.
The Epica is no style leader. The Daewoo design team has done a great job to update the seven-year-old design of the Magnus, but there was only so much it could do.
The soft, bland shape of the Epica means it just can’t compete with the fashionable mid-sized models it competes with, including the Mazda6, Honda Accord Euro, Ford Mondeo and the edgy Vectra it replaces.
It’s the same story inside. There is nothing really wrong with the layout, or the materials, it’s just quite plain and uninspiring.
The seat materials are good though, the velour-feel fabric on the base models is up there with the best of them, while the optional leather is a step ahead of the old-style South Korean leather than looked and smelt like vinyl.
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