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Future models - Holden - Commodore - VE

VE Commodore is a cut above

V for Victory: Holden says the VE is a quantum leap forward over previous models.

Holden says it has the car it has always wanted to build

20 Jul 2006

QUALITY improvements and increased ride-and-handling sophistication derived from a stronger bodyshell and a suspension comprising a double ball joint front end and four-and-a-half-link rear have allowed Holden’s engineering director Tony Hyde to proclaim the VE Commodore as a quantum leap forward – and the first without bandaids.

"I stand here and I really don’t have to apologise about anything on this car," he told GoAuto at the car’s launch last Sunday.

"I’ve got to say, in previous programs, I’ve known where the bandaids were … I’m not going to denigrate VT – VT was a good car, it was a great car for its time and everything, but you always feel uneasy about a few certain things. With this, we know we’ve done the job in the right places." This has come with a $470 million engineering budget for the VE alone and a managing director – Denny Mooney – who, soon after taking the helm in January 2004, forced Mr Hyde’s team to reassess its work and spend more than two million unaccounted-for dollars retooling in an effort to increase quality.

"To some extent we were doing the car … ‘business as usual’ and certainly one of Denny’s first influences on the car was: ‘We’ve got to go and have another look at this,’" Mr Hyde revealed.

"Some things had to be scrapped, and some things had to be modified and started again. We were fairly well on schedule in the interior – we were always really going to be red-hot on getting a quality interior – looking at some of the German auto-makers’ plastics and fit-and-finish techniques and things like that. But Denny certainly brought us up short and got us back focused on the bodyshell and the margins and flushes and everything else like that. And the car shows it.

"You will notice it when you drive the car that this is a cut above what’s gone before. It’s the bodyshell. It’s the frequency response of the body – or the bending and torsion of the bodyshell – where we’ve increased it probably 40 per cent. If you look at today’s car, it’s around 20-21 Hertz whereas this car is getting towards 30 Hertz in frequency response – and that’s getting into the European class." Mr Hyde pointed to various mechanical improvements on the VE, including a more powerful braking system worth around $4 million. But he said the thing that pleased him most was the new suspension. Here, a new four-and-a-half link IRS will replace the current semi-trailing arm system, while the front strut suspension now includes a double ball joint lower A-arm.

"This is a four-and-a-half-link sophisticated rear end, double ball joint sophisticated front end,” he said. "I’m especially pleased with the front end because, let’s face it, the front end on the current car, although heavily modified and tuned and everything, it’s still a ’78 Commodore to some degree. So I’m really pleased about that.

"There’s a lot of things to be pleased about with this program – and that was a tribute to (Peter) Hanenberger before Denny, and Denny in the last three years I’d have to say has been a great supporter of the car and a great supporter of Holden. You always wonder when you get a change of management what things are going to be like – is he going to understand Holden, and where it is in the deal – but Denny has just been great." Both front and rear tracks are up significantly – 33mm at the front, to 1602mm, and 41mm at the rear, to 1618mm. The fuel tank has been repositioned under the rear seat to meet US Federal rear impact criteria because GM is using the VE’s Zeta architecture on North American models.

At a glance: VE tech
  • New suspension: double ball joint front, four-and-a-half-link rear
  • New braking system
  • Front track: 1602mm (up 33m)
  • Rear track: 1618mm (up 41mm)
  • Turning circle: 11.4m (up 0.4m)
  • Base 3.6-litre Alloytec V6: 180kW (up 8kW) at 6000rpm, 330Nm (up 10Nm) at 2600rpm
  • High-output 3.6-litre V6: 195kW (up 5kW) at 6500rpm, 340Nm (up 5Nm) at 2600rpm
  • 6.0-litre Gen IV V8: 270kW (up 10kW) at 5700rpm, 530Nm (up 20Nm) at 4400rpm
  • 175kW LPG Alloytec coming later in 2006
  • Four-speed auto (GM 4L60E) for Omega, Berlina
  • Five-speed auto (GM 5L40E) for Calais V6
  • Six-speed auto (GM 6L80E) for all V8s
  • Six-speed manual (Tremec T56) standard on SS, SS V
  • Six-speed manual (Aisin AY6) for SV6

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