Car reviews - Holden - Statesman - V6 sedan
Space, luxury, handling, ride, cheap to run and maintain
Room for improvement
Awkward styling, overly plastic cabin, V6 unrefined
9 May 2003
CAR companies have long known that success craves recognition and consequently provide a pecking order in their model ranges to recognise the achievers. The managing director must distinguish himself from the sales rep or the middle-order manager. Hence the existence of "top of the line" models.
In Australia the question of what is a fitting top level vehicle is complicated by the choice between an upgraded local or an imported model that meets the perception of "prestige". Often it is largely a matter of personal choice - or national loyalty.
The Holden Statesman has evolved from a long line of upmarket Holden models, beginning with the FJ, when GM-H offered a "Special" with extra features over the "Standard". Then there was the Premier, introduced in the EJ model range, and later the Statesman and Caprice.
While previous prestige Australian-made cars have been an upgrade of the base model, the VQ Statesman is a unique model, visually and mechanically, and offers genuine prestige motoring with impressive performance and equipment standards.
The VQ Statesman is powered by the impressive 3.8-litre V6 or the faithful Australian-made, multiple Bathurst winning 5.0-litre V8 engine, which has been steadily refined and updated over the years.
The rear wheels are driven through a standard four-speed automatic transmission.
The body is a generous five-seater which is luxuriously appointed. The car is superbly equipped with extras ranging from independent rear suspension and four-wheel disc brakes (anti-lock system is optional) to a body computer that controls everything from the power steering to adjusting the height of the radio antenna to give best radio reception.
The top of the line Caprice has ABS, a 180kW V8 engine, uprated and lowered suspension, leather interior and special paint treatment.
A special feature of the Statesman is the anti-theft system which operates if the ignition switch is turned on by other than the "approved" key and also detects any attempt to "hot wire" the ignition. Use of the accessory position on the key switch will also trigger the alarm. An LED display with coded flashes indicates whether the vehicle has been tampered with and identifies the location - door, bonnet or boot.
The V8 engine and four-speed transmission give the Statesman impressive and smooth performance, with a large safety margin for overtaking or towing.
Four-wheel independent suspension gives a well controlled, quiet ride on all surfaces and excellent traction while the computer controlled power steering system gives low parking effort with good feel and accuracy at highway speeds.
The Statesman V6 should return 12.5 litres per 100km in town and up to 7.6 litres/100km on the highway - much better than the V8 that returns 16 and 9.5 litres respectively.
Large ventilated discs and finned callipers at the front and solid discs at the rear cope with the considerable performance and weight. An anti-lock system is optional.
Steering is by variable ratio power-assisted rack and pinion, with speed-sensitive variable assistance.
Alloy wheels are standard on the V8 Statesman with 6.5-inch rims carrying low profile, high speed rating tyres. The Caprice has Pirelli P600s as standard.
The interior of the Statesman features black trim on the upper dash panel area, cloth seat trim, height adjustment for seatbelts and even a glovebox cooler, which takes a current of cold air from the air-conditioning evaporator when it is cooling.
Spring retraction of the centre rear seatbelt keeps the seat cushion free of seatbelt webbing.
There is a lockable driver's side glovebox and a top quality sound system including an optional 10-disc remote control CD player.
For the person looking to purchase a prestige car, the Statesman, together with the rival Ford Fairlane, has a significant advantage over its Japanese and European rivals of being relatively cheap when new.
The V6 Statesman offers exceptional value to buyers looking for a powerful, roomy, well equipped luxury vehicle with reasonable servicing and parts costs, and Australia wide service coverage.
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