For those that demand the space of a full-size sedan and don’t want an off-road type vehicle, the Commodore still delivers a good business or family-sized package.
Base price: $49,990.
Powertrain and performance: 3.0-litre petrol V6, 190kW/290Nm, 6-speed automatic, rear-drive, Combined economy 8.9 litres per 100km.
Vital statistics: 4899mm long, 1471mm high, luggage capacity 496 litres, fuel tank 71 litres, 18-inch alloy wheels.
We like: Fantastic value, looks good, entertaining to drive.
We don’t like: Soon to be last year’s model and don’t you forget it, whining gearbox still sounds like a taxi.
How it rates: 7/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
Everybody knows that the current VE-series Commodore is drawing to a close, with the new VF-series set for launch in the second half of this year. However, Holden would really prefer not to have to use the word ‘runout’ – instead, to keep the old car moving out the door it’s added specification to create what it calls a line of Z-series models.
A lot of specification, mind. The car tested here is the humble entry-level Omega (although it’s not called that, it’s just the Commodore Z). It’s gained 18-inch alloys, reversing radar/camera, leather upholstery, rear spoiler and chrome exterior detailing.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
Being an Omega by any other name, the Z is powered by Holden’s 3.0-litre V6 engine. It’s not exactly a powerhouse, but it is reasonably smooth and evolutionary improvements over the life of the car have resulted in Combined economy of 8.9 litres per 100km – not bad for a full-size big-six sedan.
The six-speed automatic is efficient but the soundtrack is not pleasing: it still whines and hangs slightly between gears, just like Aussie cars always have. Comforting if you like to be reminded of that old Kingswood.
Dynamically, the Commodore is still good. You can’t beat rear-drive (enjoy it while you can) for steering feel and chassis balance, and while the Z is pretty soft it’s also very responsive and easy to adjust mid-corner.
The Z has larger alloy wheels than the Omega on which it is based, but still rides well. Family-friendly comfort.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH?
For those that demand the space of a full-size sedan and don’t want an off-road type vehicle (granted, that buyer base is dwindling rapidly), the Commodore still delivers a good business or family-sized package. You can easily fit three adults (or indeed three child-seats) in the back and the boot is generous at nearly 500 litres.
The seats are good but cabin quality is patchy, as it so often is in Aussie cars. But the dashboard design benefitted from a revamp in VE Series II guise and the layout is at least quite simple. The Z’s colour touch screen is an excellent conduit for full iPod integration and also serves as the display for the parking camera.
SHOULD I BUY ONE?
Well, you won’t get better value from a big-six sedan. The Commodore Z is $49,990, yet if you delve into the specification lists you’ll find that it gives the existing Berlina a good run for its money, while still costing over $3000 less. Looks the part, too. No jokes about plain-clothes policemen when your Omega is blinged up like this; it’s old-school but still a surprisingly likeable car.
Air conditioning: Dual climate
Audio: CD, iPod compatible
Auto-dipping mirror in reverse: No
Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/No
Cruise control: Yes
Driver footrest: Yes
Head-up display: No
Keyless entry/start: No
Parking radar: Yes with camera
Remote audio controls: Yes
Satellite navigation: No
Seat height adjustment: Yes
Split/folding rear seats: 60/40
Steering reach adjustment: YesTrip computer