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VF Commodore: Complete cabin overhaul

Classy cabin: The redesign of the VF Commodore interior brings it into line with other GM models available overseas.

Holden Commodore majors on aesthetics, quality, ergonomics and technology

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Holden logo11 Feb 2013

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

HOLDEN says efforts were redoubled to create an interior that is richer, more cohesive and even slightly roomier than in any previous Commodore.

Almost every item inside has been redesigned, including the dashboard, centre console, steering wheel, seats, storage areas and door cards.

The introduction of new technologies, such as an eight-inch large touchscreen monitor (inset to cut glare from the windscreen), electric park brake and driver aid systems including standard park assist and lane-change warning has led to a profound ergonomic rethink.

It brings the VE-based VF model in line with other General Motors models offered abroad, underlining the more international role the newcomer has to play on the four continents in which it will be sold (Australia, North America, Africa and Asia).

Initial interior design work commenced in the second half of 2009, with three themes chosen by the end of that year, and the winning one (by Joe Rudolph) selected in April 2010.

A further 18 months of engineering shakedown work followed, with the final product ready for production last year – although one Holden engineer said interior design is an ever-evolving process that continues past Job One production.

Interior design manager John Field said Holden still wanted to retain traditional Commodore cabin strengths of space and driver orientation, but in an updated and more upmarket way.

“The brief was very clear we wanted to keep all the good things about the VE – and they’re things like width and the spacious feeling they have, and also the driver orientation,” he said.

“But we wanted to make it much more dynamic, much richer in material execution, we wanted to integrate in a seamless way some really cool new technology, and we wanted to improve the way the customer interfaces with the vehicle in things like quality perception and ergonomics.

“So with that brief in hand, and the luxury of having all-new content to be able to work with, the team of about half a dozen of us went for it, were really creative, and came up with some cool ideas.”

Mirroring current international GM design, the dashboard is reminiscent of those found in Opel’s Insignia and Astra, as well as the Cruze, further reflecting the VF Commodore’s global intentions.

Addressing one of the biggest criticisms of the VE, the A-pillars gain different trim and linings that are about 4mm slimmer, to increase the field of vision, albeit only slightly.

Customer clinics held in Australia and North America helped shape the cabin, leading to the repositioning of the main power window and exterior mirror switch packs (now located on the driver’s door armrest rather than between the front seats), and boot release button (moving from inside the glovebox to the lower door card).

The new-look steering wheel is now 7mm smaller in diameter than before at 370mm, and is flat-bottomed on high-end variants for improved feel. It also features a better “hand shake” – an industry term for rim grip tactility.

For the first time in a Commodore, the steering wheel also contains cruise control switchgear. To save money and maintain global consistency, the stalks and door handles are generic GM items found in models including Insignia.

The outer air vents also adhere to international homogeny by moving from the doors (where they created unnecessary complication, according to one Holden engineer) to the dashboard.

Upping the quality ambience significantly is the implementation of fresh material on the dash fascia, including suede-like Alcantara on Calais V, and contrasting metallic and/or wooded accents, as well as precision stitching, perforated inserts, soft leather and chrome identifiers on all switches and buttons.

The instruments are completely fresh, adopting new graphics with white markings for improved legibility, while ‘icy’ blue ambient lighting has been introduced for the first time.

Along with an all-new audio and multimedia interface known as MyLink (a global GM connectivity device and the most advanced example yet available), the VF adopts a new HVAC (heater/ventilation/air-conditioning) control layout, featuring illuminated dual temperature readouts.

LED point lighting is now part of every HVAC button as a result of customer feedback.

The eight-inch screen’s controllers are on a more horizontal plane to keep the audio switchgear separate from the HVAC buttons, free up space in the lower console and improve access, functionality and aesthetics.

Larger and more versatile cupholders (enabled by shifting the power window switches and eliminating the old mechanical park brake handle), improved storage spaces, a new gear lever design and more room up front thanks to the concave shape of the revamped dashboard are further advances.

Finally, the seats are new, with better cushioning and more body support, and available in two designs (regular and sport).

However, despite the reshaped rear backrest and cushion, there is no split/fold function for better boot access. Instead the VF relies on the same enlarged ‘ski port’ that has long served the Commodore.

Other carryover items include the interior mirror and centre console bin lid, including the rear passenger air vents behind it.

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