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Holden VX Acclaim Wagon

 

Did I have a grandfather clock I wanted to shift? they asked me.

They were having me on, having a little joke, taking the...well, you know.

But the point was well made, and if I had a grandfather clock to shift, Holden's Acclaim station wagon would have been the ideal workhorse for the job.

The clock would have to lie down and you'd have to fold the rear seatback forward, but the grandfather clock, along with the grandmother and most of the rest of their family could be carried with ease.

The Commodore wagon rides on a longer wheelbase than its sedan siblings, and that means the already spacious Commodore cabin takes on an even airier feel. It almost redefines the word roomy.

Legroom, already generous in the sedan, is limo-like in the rear cabin of the wagon.

The loadspace behind the rear seat is large and practical with all five seats in use, stylish van-sized with the seatback folded forward.

The high roofline adds practical height to the loadspace, and the upward hinged tailgate and convenient-height floor makes loading easy.

Maximum cargo load with the rear seat folded is a massive 2683 litres (by comparison the sedan's roomy boot is a scant 475 litres).

Our only gripe about the loadspace was the lack of a tray or blind to cover the space when the car is left unattended.

The Acclaim wagon has traction control as standard and it's a worthwhile addition to the car.

The Commodore wagon is a big vehicle with a high rear cabin - which means excellent headroom - and a fair amount of mass behind the rear wheels.


That means it's a little more prone to kick out its tail, especially on wet roads, than the sedans.

Nail the throttle on the way out of a tight corner in the dry and you can feel the tail move a little. Provoke it and it'll step out. The quick power-assisted rack and pinion steering will catch the errant rear end quickly, but the traction control adds a nice little touch of extra security for when the road is slippery or you hit the throttle too hard and too soon.

It's a nice safety net for ham-fisted - or overly lead-footed - moments.

If you want to go the macho way you can switch off the traction control.

The 15-inch diameter steel wheels wear stylish wheel covers and 205/65 tyres.

The standard suspension set-up is firm enough to cope with loads but doesn't compromise ride quality. Generally ride is good and the car soaks up bumps well.

FE2 sports suspension or a heavy duty country pack suspension set-up and options.

The four-wheel disc brakes provide good stopping power and an ABS anti-skid system is standard.

The 3.8-litre Holden V6 produces 152kW of power at 5200rpm and peak torque of 305Nm at 3600rpm.

That equals plenty of power and speed even in a car weighing around 1590kg unladen.

Acceleration is brisk and there's plenty of power on tap for effortless open-road passing.

The high level of handling finesse makes the power manageable and the Commodore wagon handles much like its sedan stablemates.

There's initial understeer on turn-in to corners, moving to a feeling of mild oversteer (without losing rear wheel grip) at high cornering speeds.


The car holds its line well over bumps and can be driven with great confidence at speed.

You're more aware, though, of the Commodore's size in the wagon than you are in the sedan.

We suspect one of the reasons for the Commodore VT/VX's phenomenal success is that the Mike Simcoe-led design team have made the Commodore look smaller than it is. The rival Ford Falcon, for instance, is a sliver shorter but looks much bigger.

Not even Simcoe could make the Commodore wagon look small, though, and you get a real impression of how big a car the Holden is.

The bigger wheelbase - 2938mm to the sedan's 2788mm - the greater length - 5046mm to the sedan's 4891mm - and the increased height - 1545mm compared with 1450mm - all contribute to the feeling.

You notice it most when you're parking. The car's rear end stick out further into the roadway in carparks.

But it never feels ungainly or unmanageable. The power steering - and the good impression you have of exactly where the car's extremities are - make the wagon easy to park and to manoeuvre in tight spaces.

The Acclaim wagon has independent rear suspension as standard and uses the four-speed automatic gearbox.

It's a smooth-shifting unit which can be used manually in tight going where the box will shift up and down the ratios

a fraction slower than you'd like if left to its own devices.

Refinement levels are generally good and at moderate throttle openings the engine is very quiet. Stand on the throttle and open its lungs, though, and the V6 can be raucous.

The Acclaim wagon retails for $46,800. It has all the Commodore virtues of roominess, comfort, ruggedness, user-friendliness allied to an immense loadspace.

It's bigger than the sedan and it feels bigger, but it's easy to drive, park and manoeuvre. Handling remains crisp and dependable and there's plenty of power on tap.

And if you want to move a grandfather clock, we can't think of a better workhorse for the job.


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