Well Holden have released the new VE Series II Commodore and you have to wonder what’s so different about the new model when the first line of the official press release says “Smart new touch-screen infotainment system on all models”.
I mean … come on guys … this is a car … tell us about its acceleration … tell us about its road holding ability … tell us about how hot it is … tell us about the fuel consumption … just don’t disappoint us by tell us about a touch screen … that’s not what a press release about a car should be about. Where’s the adrenalin rush in a touch screen?
If you guys at Holden think that the new infotainment system is the most important thing about the new Series II VE Commodore then maybe the rest of the car might be just as uninteresting.
To be fair to Holden this is a mid-life makeover that every model goes through so we shouldn’t really be expect anything too drastic. Sure there’s been a 2% reduction in fuel consumption in the six-cylinder models and a 12% improvement in fuel consumption in the V8 models and Holden are now making a lot of noise about having an engine that will run on everything from petrol to something that looks disgusting and can only be extracted from a rubbish dump but we still have the basic SIDI engine.
Most of the savings in fuel consumption have been achieved by tweaking the body shape and smoothing out pockets of air resistance that are out of sight under the car. A little fiddle with the air-con compressor produced another small saving in fuel and reducing the idle speed of the 3.0-litre V6 has saved a few more drops of the precious fuel.
But we’re still not catching up with the Europeans when it comes to lowering fuel consumption and we’re not seeing some of the high-tech fuel saving solutions that some manufacturers are currently using … although to be fair Holden is definitely way out in front if you compare the Commodore’s fuel consumption to some Japanese and Korean six-cylinder vehicles.
So now that I’ve had my whinge about fuel consumption let me make it quite plain that I do like the Commodore … I certainly enjoyed the week I spend in the old Berlina Sportwagon earlier this year and I’m looking forward to spending another week in the Series II Commodore. But I’m not going to be overwhelmed by a touch-screen infotainment system.
So what’s changed on the new Series II VE Commodore? Well for a start the Omega and the Berlina now sit lower, you may notice that the rear wheels on the sedans all sit behind air deflectors and the boot lid now has what Holden describe as an ‘aero lip’.
All vehicles in the Series II range also now have a new front fascia, larger grill and revised headlamps with new lens and bright bezel.
The Berlina, Calais and SV6/SS models get new wheels … 17 inch on the Berlina, 18 inch on the Calais and SV6/SS models and 19 inch on the Calias V-Series. The Omega and Berlina models both have lower-profile tyres too.
Safety and comfort
All models came with Electronic Stability Control, dual zone climate control, four-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat, multi-function steering wheel, cruise control and the sedan and wagons also get six airbags that includes side impact bags for the front seat occupants and side curtain airbags for all occupants.
Yes well it may not be important for me but I’m sure there are some people who buy a vehicle for the sound system rather than the power, road holding and comfort. If you’re one of those people then I’m sure you will be blown away by Holden’s new full-colour multi-function LCD touch screen that sits right where everyone can see it in the centre stack.
Holden says that they have benchmarked this piece of electronic wizardry against computers, mobile phones and video games. So you can be sure that it will look good … but does it also mean that we’ll also see the blue-screen-of-death from time to time or stop in the middle of a long drive to reboot it?
This screen also gives you touch screen control of just about any electronic device that you might have that will hold and play music and Holden have also introduced what they refer to as a ‘virtual changer’.
In the new Series II VE you won’t have to load up CDs into a CD stacker if you’re heading off on a long trip. All you have to do is pop each CD into the player and then allow the audio system to rip the music and store it on an internal flash drive … the ‘virtual changer’. Holden says that the internal flash drive can hold as many as 15 CDs.
So what does a buyer end up with if they buy a new Series II Commodore? Well on paper they end up with a good solid car that will deliver on its promises. It flirts with some of the electronic gizmos that other makers have been building into their cars for some time now … but it doesn’t push the envelope too far.
Automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers aren’t on the agenda as standard fittings just yet (the wipers aren’t standard until you get to the top-of-the-range Calais) but the SS V-Series, the Calais and Caprice models do get a high-end navigation system that also doubles as a reversing camera.
Perhaps that means we might see something a little more exciting than an infotainment system in a year or two’s time if General Motors does build another Commodore (not guaranteed right now but it certainly could be on the agenda) and by then we should also be seeing some more developments in the engine department too.
Till then we’ve got the Series II VE Commodore and, for an Australian car, it looks pretty good to me.