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First drive: Holden’s more powerful Monaro

Impulsive: Monaro III is available in a new, highly chromatic blue color called Impulse.

More power for revised Series III Monaro as VYII Commodores ring in the changes

18 Aug 2003

RECEIVING its second model update inside six months, Holden’s top-selling Monaro coupe has received a number of running changes – and a $600 price rise – aimed at maintaining its domination of the Australian sports car market.

Monaro was launched in December, 2001, before receiving new VY Commodore-based interior and exterior details in a Series II update that went on sale in late January this year.

Now Monaro CV8 receives the same 245kW V8 that powers VYII SS and SV8 models, a front suspension strut tower brace, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, electro-chromatic interior mirror, illuminated steering wheel audio controls, on-glass rear aerial, active front head restraints and longer-seatback bucket seats.

Introducing Holden’s now obligatory “hero colour” for the year, Monaro III is available with a new, highly chromatic blue called Impulse.

Along with the new Cosmo purple hue, they can be matched to leather seat upholstery and new colour-coded instruments. Monaro also benefits from a new “acid etch resistance” top coat paint treatment.

The unloved supercharged V6-powered CV6, which comprised just eight per cent of Monaro sales in its best month, was axed from production at the end of June.


AS the flagship of Holden’s performance car range, Monaro continues to offer a driving experience that its similarly powered siblings simply cannot match.

With a much tauter chassis and more communicative steering, Monaro delivers a different style of motoring, one that’s unique among a growing range of four-door Commodore variants.

The latest Monaro – the third inside two years – maintains the range-topper’s status quo, even if lesser sports models in the SS and SV8 continue to match its peak power output.

In Series III Monaro that means a 10kW increase to 245kW at 5600rpm, up from 235kW at 5200rpm, thanks to revised engine recalibration, a high-flow air-cleaner and full dual exhaust system.

There is no difference in torque, which remains at 465Nm at 4000rpm, but the upgraded engine delivers appreciable gains on the road by offering a broader power spread at the top end and feeling less muffled throughout the entire rev range.

Changes made to induction hardware for the original Monaro continue to reap considerable aural rewards, the Monaro sounding more like a V8 should – especially at full song.

As in garden variety V8 Commodores, the six-speed transmission retains its baulky shift gate, but remains our preferred alternative to the archaic four-speed GM auto that plagues the identically priced self-shifter.

The addition of a front strut tower brace for Monaro and other 245kW VYII Commodores – something HSV’s 260kW and even 300kW models do without – is difficult to quantify as part of an otherwise unchanged suspension specification, but must play a small but integral role in the slightly tighter overall chassis feel.

Other useful Monaro additions include an electrochromatic interior mirror, leather-wrapped steering wheel and illuminated steering wheel audio controls, while the rear on-glass aerial is said to improve radio reception while deleting the ugly front wing aerial.

A significant safety addition is the fitting of active front head restraints within the longer-seatback bucket seats, while colour-coded instruments and new optional metallic paint colours add welcome window dressing to a model that needs to stand out from the four-door crowd.

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