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New Commodore: The skin's the thing

Changes: The low-series front-end (Acclaim), SS rear-end and the Executive interior are among VY's many styling updates.

New looks are the key to VY Commodore, while equipment level changes across the range are less dramatic

13 Sep 2002

THERE'S no question VY Commodore's new skin has changed dramatically more than what's beneath it, the bolder new face and tail design having changed enough to solicit "new Commodore" cries from even casual onlookers.

Continuing the graphic theme introduced by Monaro and Cross8, and to bring Commodore in line with the GM corporate look, the VY's new front and rear-end styling will carry the VT-based Commodore through until the final VZ series update in 2004. (In turn, the already signed-off VZ will carry Commodore through to the all-new VE model in 2006.) Focussing on applying more aggressive graphics to the well proportioned VT design, the VY facelift brings to Commodore a new trapezoidal grille reminiscent of Mazda6, flanked by dual headlights - including a "bull's eye" parking light for low series models to replace the VX-introduced teardrop.

Banishing the twin-nostril grille introduced on VR Commodore, the new single grille opening - featuring a large, more chiselled Holden Lion badge - integrates well with a deeply sculpted, V-shaped bonnet pressing similar to the BA Falcon's.

While the roof and doors remain unchanged, the edgier rear-end now comprises a prominent lip on the trailing end of the bootlid, flanked by jewel-effect (transparent) triangular tail-lights that are similar to Magna and truncate the rear-end.

Commodore now also features HSV-style "simulated venturi" rear bumper inserts, most prominent on SS, while Monaro's Hothouse Green paint scheme replaces Hyper Yellow as Commodore's new hero colour.

Inside, the new dashboard features a single prominent binnacle housing a new instrument panel with large, stylised LCD information display, replacing the the now five-year-old wrap-around design.

The new centre console features a five-degree bias toward the driver, a push-button Blaupunkt audio unit to replace the ageing Eurovox system and tactile new switchgear, including three large rotary air-conditioning dials in low-series models. A stylish new woven headlining replaces the hairy material used previously.

There are different bumper designs for low series, high series and sports models respectively, plus two headlight designs and two rear bumper styles.

For Executive, Acclaim and SS models, there's an all-black grille flanked by regular twin halogen headlights and the bull's-eye parking light. But the S and SS grille is smaller and has only a single slat called a sports bar.

Meantime, Berlina and Calais models get twin projector headlights outboard of a twin-slat grille with chrome surround, plus chrome-rimmed fog lights.

Blacked-out headlight bezels are used within both low and high series models for further differentiation, while the three ute models carry the new low series face (SS with the aggressive airdam) and the three wagon models echo their respective sedan front-ends.

The S and new SV8 model miss out on the SS's 18-inch wheels, fog lights and colour-coded mirrors. In fact, bar its rear wing and 17-inch alloys, the SV8 appears the same as Executive externally.

A full range of Holden-designed alloy wheels and integrated bodykits are available for Commodore for the first time from Holden By Design.


THE big changes to VY centre around the styling (inside as well as out) and engineering - which we've dealt with separately - but Holden has also taken the chance to tweak the equipment list, albeit not dramatically.

Across the range there are:
  • New metallic colours
  • Headlamp auto off
  • Twilight sentinel
  • An upgraded trip computer with stop watch function
  • New range of Blaupunkt stereos with a sound system compatible with most mobile phone hands-free kits, and with speed-dependent volume control
  • Front belt force limiters on all sedans
  • Shadeband across the sedan rear windscreen
  • Holden Assist now an option across the range
  • Variable instrument dimmer on sedans and wagons
  • 12-volt power socket inside centre console (new for all bar Calais and Berlina)
  • Road-speed dependent wipers for all bar Calais and Berlina
  • V6 engine service intervals increased from 10,000 to 15,000km


THE base model sedan actually loses access to the Gen III V8, which also means no access to the six-speed manual transmission that comes with it.

Executive is now restricted to normally aspirated Ecotec V6 power.

But both the sedan and wagon get an important addition in the form of a passenger airbag.

There's also new style covers for the 15x6-inch steel wheels and a new style anthracite cloth trim with "Domino" velour inserts, the latter shared with Ute.

A new feature to be shared with both Acclaim bodystyles and the S and SS sedans is a remote key operation of exterior lights to show the car's location at night.

Air-conditioning and traction control are still not standard for Executive, nor are the front reading spotlights that are now fitted across the rest of the range.


THE family choice receives detail changes to an already healthy specification list. There's new style 15x7-inch alloy wheels, an equaliser for the new Blaupunkt stereo (a feature also now on SS) and the same anthracite cloth trim as Executive, but with different "Monterey" velour inserts.

As part of the multi-function display, there is now an auto transmission "gear selected" indicator, which is also standard on the auto-only Calais and Berlina.

Commodore S

VERY little changes here in terms of equipment either. By far the most important change is the addition of a passenger airbag.

There's also a new-look 16x7-inch alloy wheel design and a new design cloth colour-coded woven jacquard seat trim with "Fusion" flat weave bolsters shared with the S ute.


THE new intermediate sports model comes with a 235kW V8 engine mated to either a six-speed manual or four-speed auto transmission, plus limited slip differential, FE2 sports suspension, ABS, traction control and 17x8-inch alloy wheels.

SV8 standard cloth trim is a woven jacquard in a "Spiral" design with flat weave bolsters.

The SV8 looks light-on for creature comforts compared to the S, let alone the SS.

The bodykit does not get side, front or rear skirts - just a rear wing and twin exhausts - you can't get colour-coded instruments (it makes do with red) and it misses out on both tilt adjust for the front seat head restraints and front passenger seat lumbar adjust.

Big-ticket items missing are power windows and cruise control, although you can option them in a $1915 pack that includes side airbags.


WITH the addition of SV8, SS drives hurriedly upmarket courtesy of 10 extra kilowatts from its Gen III V8.

Also added to the package are new 18x8-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels mated to 235/40 tyres, side airbags, an alloy pedal cluster it shares with the SS ute, satin chrome interior doorhandles it shares with both the SS ute and Calais, and an in-dash six-CD player which SS ute, Calais and Berlina all get too.

Interior trim is in a colour-coded jacquard with "Fusion" flat weave bolsters, which it shares with SS ute.


THE entry level luxury model comes with the choice of both V6 and V8 power but only mated to the four-speed automatic transmission.

Curiously, the Gen III offered with Berlina - and it's the same story for S ute and Calais - doesn't get the 10kW upgrade and stays at 225kW.

Most Berlina changes are shared with Calais, like the new-design 16x7-inch alloy wheels, an upgraded trip computer with 13 functions compared to nine functions for the rest of the range, an extra twin cupholders that pop out of the dash Saab-like and an overhead sunglass holder.

The background interior colours are in anthracite or shale, soft-touch "Rattan" velour trim fabric bolster and inserts. An option now being offered with the Berlina wagon is the FE2 sports suspension.


THIS is now the only car in the range offered with all three engine choices - normally-aspirated and supercharged V6 and Gen III V8.

Already pretty heavily loaded with equipment, the Calais still fires a couple of new shots, like standard rear parking sensors which are optional on the rest of the range and its own two-tone interior background colours in shale/light shale or anthracite, and a soft-pile sueded "Marcel" fabric.


VERY little to report apart from some new accessory wheels courtesy of HBD and the new-found ability to option the FE2 sports suspension.

Both of these new opportunities to spend extra dollars are shared between the base model and the S Ute.

The S Ute also scores well with air-conditioning and ABS now standard. But you pay for it with the biggest price rise - seven per cent. There are also new 16x7-inch alloy wheels.

The hi-po SS Ute gets a new lower body kit, the alloy pedal cluster out of the SS sedan and the six-disc CD stacker, plus SS sedan style alloy wheels, but in smaller 17x8-inch size.

But all the utes still miss out on traction control and the control link IRS.

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