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VZ Commodore: New V6 star of the show

Six appeal: Holden's SV6 is a new hero model designed to promote the Alloytec V6 engine.

Holden's VZ Commodore ups the performance, some prices and sales forecast

9 Aug 2004

HOLDEN will tempt potential large car buyers to the new VZ Commodore and WL long wheelbase models with blandishments under the bonnet rather than extra trinkets in the cabin.

The range goes on sale late this month, with a family of new 3.6-litre ‘Alloytec’ V6 engines replacing the stalwart Ecotec and a mildly modified Gen III 5.7-litre V8 providing support.

The model line-up has been pared back a little and a new SV6 replaces the old S, the name change prompted by the 190kW version of Alloytec.

The SV6 is also the only model in the range that gets the new Japanese-built Aisin D173 six-speed manual gearbox.

That car and the new V6 engine will also form the centrepiece of Holden’s VZ advertising and promotions, that kick off during the Athens Olympics telecast.

Viewers will note that despite the emphasis being under the sheetmetal, VZ still has some styling revisions, most noticeably at the front where the entire range adopts the single-bar grille previously restricted to the sports models, and new twin ridges that run up the bonnet.

Holden is claiming a $189 million spend on this final significant V-car development before the new generation VE arrives in 2006. It is confidently predicting it will re-ignite Commodore sales, which currently languish 6122 behind 2003.

The company believes the run-out VY II has suffered from fleet market caution, as buyers hold off to assess the new model, but that VZ will result in a full year’s 87,000 sales. That compares to the 2003 result of 86,553 sales.

Pricing has climbed on average by around one per cent across the range from VY II, but there are peaks and troughs, as you can see from the chart below, which compares the incoming and outgoing Holden long and short wheelbase ranges, and chucks in the Ford opposition for good measure.

The biggest increase is $2000 for both the V6 and V8 Calais models which add standard leather, while the SV8 is unchanged at $41,990 for either manual or automatic. The fleet favourite Executive sedan is now $35,410 with air-conditioning, up $420.

The new SV6 is $38,990 in manual or automatic form, sitting between the prices of the old ‘S’ model it replaces.

Virtually all the BA Falcon range is now cheaper than its Commodore equivalent, although the balance could change somewhat in October when BAII goes on sale.

Air-conditioning continues to remain a $2250 option on the base model Executive for marketing reasons.

The WL models have all had price increases, the Statesman hardest hit with a $2000 hike for both V6 and V8, again because of the addition of standard leather. The flagship Caprice goes up by $700.

That means Holden’s most expensive model is now $74,390.

Holden’s emphasis lies very much with the new DOHC Alloytec engines and their attendant family of five-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmissions, which GoAuto has covered off in detail previously.

What Holden hasn’t revealed until now is exactly how the two new engines and their transmissions line up. The range now looks like this:
  • The base 175kW Alloytec and revised carry-over four-speed automatic transmission are standard with Excecutive, Acclaim and Berlina.

  • The higher performance Alloytec 190 and new five-speed auto transmission are standard for Calais and Statesman.

  • The SV6 gets the choice of five-speed auto or six-speed manual to go with Alloytec 190.

  • The five-speed auto comes with paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel tagged 'Active Select'
Holden had not discussed fuel economy before the VZ launch either and despite some downbeat comments when Alloytec was first revealed, it has claimed improvements based on the ADR 81/01 combined estimate. The popular Executive, Acclaim and Berlina automatic sedans drop from 11.3L/100km to 11.1L/100km.

There are more significant decreases claimed for the 190 versus the old supercharged Ecotec.

These improvements have been achieved in part because of kerb weight reductions compared to VY II, with Holden claiming a five kg decrease for Executive and 27kg for the SV6 compared to the old S supercharged. Holden is also claiming weight reductions for the V8s and some slight fuel reductions there as well.

No performance claims have been made by Holden but independent testing of the SV6 manual indicates sub seven seconds 0-100km/h times are achievable along with low 15 second 0-400 metre dashes.

13 center imageBut what Holden had also hoped to keep secret until last Thursday’s launch – and failed – was the addition of the Bosch 8.0 ESP stability control system to some of the new V6 models.

This is the same fundamental system that Ford introduced with the Territory all-wheel drive model in June, albeit with Holden's performance parameters. The Territory was the first Australian-built vehicle with what Ford calls DSC, and now Holden claims the second step on the podium by offering it first with a local sedan.

ESP adds an extra layer to traditional ABS and traction control electro-trickery Holden already has in its armoury to control understeer and oversteer. It does this by braking the appropriate wheels and by electronic throttle intervention and cutting spark to the engine when it senses either handling trait.

Holden has cleverly packaged up its new electronic armoury, offering different features for different models.The full ESP package is standard on VZ Calais and Acclaim and both WL Models.

Interestingly, cost ruled out the addition of ESP to the V8 models, which because of their higher power and torque outputs would arguably gain more from such assistance.

The versions of the Gen III V8 specified for SS and SV8 as well as Caprice now produce 250kW and 470Nm, up by five kW and Nm, while the Statesman climbs 10kW and five Nm to 245kW and 465Nm.

The V8 Calais and Berlina figures are unchanged at 235kW and 460Nm.

Recommended Retail Pricing

VZ Long Wheelbase rangePriceVYII PriceBA Falcon equiv.
Executive Sedan V6 Automatic$35,410*$34,990*$34,660*
Executive Wagon V6 Automatic$37,350*$36,880*$36,565*
Acclaim Sedan V6 Automatic $39,050$38,570$38,135
Acclaim Wagon V6 Automatic $40,990$40,510$39,570
SV6 Sedan V6 Manual$38,990$38,360$38,655
SV6 Sedan V6 Automatic$38,990$39,130$39,455
SV8 Sedan V8 Manual$41,990$41,990n/a
SV8 Sedan V8 Automatic$41,990$41,990n/a
SS Sedan V8 Manual $50,990$50,490$50,130
SS Sedan V8 Automatic$50,990$50,490$51,050
Berlina Sedan V6 Automatic $42,990$42,390$42,570
Berlina Sedan V8 Automatic$47,500$46,990$47,450
Berlina Wagon V6 Automatic $45,830$45,290n/a
Berlina Wagon V8 Automatic$50,430$45,890n/a
Calais Sedan V6 Automatic$52,660$50,660$51,255
Calais Sedan V8 Automatic $57,360$55,360$56,135
WL Long Wheelbase range
Statesman Sedan V6 Automatic$55,990$53,990$55,500
Statesman Sedan V8 Automatic$60,790$58,790$62,270
Caprice Sedan V6 Automatic $69,650$68,950n/a
Caprice Sedan V8 Automatic $74,390$73,690$72,790
*includes air conditioningFor more on the Alloytec V6 engine family, read the Future Models stories: 'VZ Commodore: Holden doubles up on V6' and 'VZ Commodore: Inside Holden's new V6 engine'Also, watch out for more in-depth reports on the technical and styling aspects of the VZ Commodore this week and a series of drive reports on important new models in the range.

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