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First drive: VZ Acclaim is top-shelf

Safety first: VZ Acclaim is the least expensive Australian-built passenger car to offer ESP stability control.

VZ Acclaim offers safety first with a full-house stability control system

19 Aug 2004

AUSTRALIAN large car buyers will be beneficiaries of a significant improvement in safety and sophistication for Holden’s family-friendly Commodore Acclaim, which gains both the new Alloytec V6 and a ground-breaking new stability control system.

On sale in late August, Acclaim sedan will be the least expensive variant in the facelifted VZ Commodore range to feature the full-house safety system offered in many more expensive European models.

Unfortunately, despite being even more popular with families, the VZ Acclaim wagon misses out on the latest Bosch 8.0 ESP stability control system, which includes the upgraded Bosch 8.0 ABS anti-lock braking system, upgraded traction control, electronic brake assist and corner brake control.

Holden has made much of the fact it will be the first Australian manufacturer to offer stability control in a locally-built passenger car (Ford’s Territory SUV was the first homegrown vehicle to feature a similar system), but instead of Acclaim sedan’s top-shelf ESP system, Acclaim wagon will be left to soldier on with mechanical brake assist and a revised traction control system.

Like all VZ Commodores, however, both Acclaim bodystyles will feature the Adventra’s electronic brake-force distribution system, which distributes braking force to the rear wheels consistently in all conditions.

Similarly, in addition to the entry-level, fleet-oriented Commodore Executive’s standard fare, both Acclaim variants will continue to offer as standard twin front side airbags, active front head restraints and front seatbelt height adjusters, plus body-coloured wing mirrors, rear parking sensors and 15-inch alloy wheels.

In sedan form at least, Commodore Acclaim represents even better value than before, with its retail price rising just $480 to $39,050, including air-conditioning with rear outlets, twin front airbags, cruise control, trip computer, power windows, six-speaker CD audio system with steering wheel controls, cloth trim and remote central locking.

13 center image In contrast, the less improved Acclaim wagon, which continues to add the convenience of a 60/40-split folding rear seat, rises the same amount to $40,510, while the more highly specified Berlina sedan rises $600 to $42,990 but lacks Acclaim sedan’s standard ESP stability control.

For the money, all Acclaims throw in Holden’s new 3.6-litre DOHC alloy V6, which brings substantial performance and refinement gains over the outgoing and elderly Buick-based 3.8-litre cast-iron pushrod V6 that has powered Commodore since the 1988 VN.

However, entry-level Executive, Acclaim and Berlina models miss out on the "premium Alloytec 190" version of the 60-degree, Port Melbourne-built V6, which adds exhaust valve timing and a variable induction manifold to unleash power and torque peaks of 190kW and 340Nm respectively.

Instead, those variants feature only inlet valve timing and a fixed induction manifold, plus the same electronic throttle, twin knock sensors, stainless steel exhaust, sequential fuel injection and distributorless ignition systems to realise 175kW and 320Nm of torque – at lower engine speeds of 6000rpm and 2800rpm respectively.

The new 3.565-litre engine, with oversquare 94 x 85.6mm bore and stroke dimensions, runs a relatively high 10.2:1 compression ratio and continues with the 15,000km regular service intervals introduced with the VY Commodore facelift, when the previous Ecotec 3.8 received a larger capacity oil sump and aluminium-lead camshaft bearings.

Similarly, base Alloytec-powered Executive, Acclaim and Berlina models miss out on the new five-speed automatic transmission featuring Active Select steering wheel-mounted gearshift buttons that is available in SV6, Calais, Statesman and Caprice.

Instead, these models feature a comprehensively upgraded version of Commodore’s current GM four-speed auto, which features a new torque converter, smarter control module and new calibration to improve shift-to-shift variation.

With the more complex overhead-cam cylinder heads of the new V6 negating much of the alloy engine construction’s weight savings, Acclaim kerb weights remain almost lineball with the outgoing VY Acclaim at 1574kg for the sedan and 1647kg wagon – just 6kg and 7kg more than the base Executive respectively.

Thus, VZ Acclaim’s fuel economy drops around two per cent – and in auto guise now stands at 11.1 litres per 100km (from 11.3L/100km) for the sedan and 11.3L/100km (from 11.7L/100km).

Like all VZ Commodores, the facelifted Acclaim features an upgraded brake system including a new booster and master-cylinder combination that’s claimed to reduce stopping distances by four per cent by improving brake pedal response.

Along with a new, lighter power steering pump said to improve durability and noise, VZ Commodore steering also gains a new front anti-roll bar pickup point (now ball-jointed, not rubber bushed) which reduces both the bar’s mass and bar crank length by 40mm to sharpen steering and "increase the range of mild understeer at low to mid lateral G-forces".

In cosmetic terms, Acclaim picks up a larger, single-slat grille previously exclusive to sports Commodores, plus a new twin-spear bonnet, larger front bumper air intake, more compact headlights, new-design alloy wheels and "Alloytec V6" badging.

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