Holden Astra Sportswagon

Holden Astra Sportswagon

Holden Astra Sportswagon

A little history
There was a time in Australia when there were no SUVs. Back then, if we wanted something that would carry the family and give extra room for luggage we bought a station wagon … and lots of Australian’s bought station wagons.

Back then, if you were a car manufacturer who wanted to appeal the widest customer base you had a station wagon in every vehicle size in your catalogue.

But then along came the SUV and marketers did their best to convince us that we didn’t need … or want … a station wagon anymore.

Pretty soon station wagons disappeared off the showroom floors. Some manufacturers still offered them but it might take a while to get one for you while other manufacturers ditched them entirely.

That was the path that Ford took with their Falcon station wagon despite the fact that they had always been quite popular. Of course, they still had a wagon in their range but it was a Mondeo … a smaller vehicle that had less room than the Ford Falcon wagons of days gone by.

Holden was different … they bucked the trend and stuck with a station wagon in the Commodore range. They promoted it hard and kept on developing it and the Commodore wagon turned into a beautiful piece of machinery that I loved to drive.

Lots of other people loved the Commodore wagon too … just look around while you’re out driving and you will see plenty of them on the road

It did everything right. It had looks, it had power to spare, it was quite economical to drive … more economical than many of the Japanese SUVs … it was very comfortable, it was quiet inside and it was built to give you every possible bit of storage space possible.

And now Holden is bringing out another station wagon … not in it’s big-car range but down in Astra range … and it looks every bit as good as the Commodore wagon.

Holden Astra Sportswagon dashboard


The Holden Astra Sportswagon will be available in Australia in October. It was designed in Opel’s Russelsheim headquarters and is built in the UK at one of Vauxhall’s plants.

It not only offers loads of carrying space for people who don’t have a need for a bigger vehicle. With the real seats folded the Astra Sportswagon gives you 1,630 litres of boot space.

Astra Sportswagon interior


Safety and comfort
The Holden Astra Sportswagon comes with a full suite of safety features that would have made early station wagon owners green with envy.

The range of safety features includes Auto Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist and Forward Collision Alert in addition to a Rear View Camera – all available as standard across the range. All combine to offer a full five star ANCAP safety rating.

Astra Sportswagon interior

The Astra Sportswagon is powered by a 1.4-litre turbo engine with six-speed automatic transmission that produce 110kW and 240Nm of torque.

Astra will give you all of that and only ask for around 5.9l/100kms of fuel so running the Astra will be light on the pocket.

Holden Astra Sportswagon blindspot monitoring

The Astra Sportswagon range
There will be two versions of the Astra Sportswagon available in Australia.

The LS+ auto has a price tag of $25,74 while the LT Auto carries a price tag of $29,940

LS+ Equipment Levels

1.4-litre turbo engine (110kW/240Nm)
6-speed Auto standard with Stop/Start
16-inch alloy wheels
Leather Steering Wheel
Rear Park Assist / Rear Camera
Holden Eye forward facing camera
AEB City Stop
Lane Keep Assist
Forward Collision Alert
Forward distance indicator
Phone projection (Apple CarPlay/Android Auto)
Digital Radio (DAB+)
Rain sensing wipers
Electrochromatic Mirror
7-inch colour touchscreen
Projector headlamps with LED DRL’s
Six speaker premium audio
Cruise Control – with Speed Limiter
60/40 fold flat rear seat
Express Up/Down Windows

LT Equipment Levels (additional to the LS+)

17-inch alloy wheels
Leather Interior Trim
Hands-free power liftgate
Passive Entry & Push-Button Start (PEPS)
8-inch colour touchscreen
Embedded satellite navigation
Climate Control
Side Blind Spot Alert
Advanced Park Assist (automatic park)
Heated Outside Mirrors

Colours available

Absolute Red
Nitrate Silver*
Cosmic Grey*
Phantom Black*
Heron White
Darkmoon Blue*

* Prestige paint – $550 premium

By | September 26th, 2017|Holden|Comments Off on Holden Astra Sportswagon

Buick Avenir

Buick avenirFew people would look at the Buick Avenir, the latest concept car from GM that was unveiled at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, and think that GM’s Australian design studio could have had anything to do with it but they certainly did.

Not only did the design for the body of the Buick Avenir come from GM’s Australian design studio but the vehicle itself was built here in Australia and that raised some interesting challenges because the unique interior was designed in the United States.

And if you’re looking at the exterior of this concept and wondering where you’ve seen it before then step back to the 1971 -73 Buick Riviera and think of that unusual boat-tail design. There are many other design features in the Buick Avenir that clearly mark this car as a Buick yet at the same time some of those features have been modernised.

The grille is a modern interpretation of another Buick concept car, the 1954 Buick Wildcat II and designers suggest that the Avenir could be just as ground-breaking as the WildcatII

The interior
Inside the Buick Avenir the premium leather seat covers, ambient lighting and the unusual four-place seating leave no doubt that this concept was designed to be a luxury car.

The Avenir is also big on technology and the simple dashboard layout clearly shows that this is a vehicle that takes a lot of the hassle out of driving. The most important information is displayed in front of the driver while less important information is kept out of sight till it’s required.

The information systems in the Avenir are also designed to be accessed via smart phones and that information is available and synchronised within seconds of the vehicle being started.

Buick Avenir Interior

Engine and transmission
The Buick Avenir features the latest direct-injected V6 engine with Active Fuel Management that deactivates cylinders when they are not required. The transmission includes a nine-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shift that transmits power to all four wheels via a twin-clutch system but under normal operation the vehicle is rear-wheel drive.

Will we ever see the Buick Avenir in production? I think that it’s quite likely that we will see a car with a similar body shape roll off the production line but I doubt that things like the seating will be quite so cutting edge. If the Avenir does hit the streets then GM Australia will have played quite a large part in getting it there.

By | January 12th, 2015|Featured, Holden|0 Comments

Holden Barina RS Hatch

Holden Barina RS HatchWhile the Barina has been a fun car it’s always been lacking a bit of grunt straight off the showroom floor but now that’s all changed … now we have the Holden Barina RS and if you were looking for something in the light car segment with a lot of get up and go then the Barina RS hatch is for you.

While not a whole lot has changed on the outside if you look under the bonnet you’ll see that this is a Barina on steroids … turbo-charged, fuel-injected steroids … and at the same time you’re going to get great fuel economy too.

The engine
The Holden Barina RS is powered by the same 1.4-litre turbo-charged fuel injected engine that you will find in the Holden Cruze. Holden have coupled that fiery little engine to a six-speed manual transmission (a six-speed auto with Active Select is available as an option).

On the outside
The ride height of the Holden Barina RS is 10mm lower than the others in the Barina range and there are new 17-inch alloy wheels that are only available on the RS along with unique front and rear fascias fog lamps and a new exterior body colour called ‘Orange Rock’.

Barina RS interior

The suspension on the RS has also been tweaked with stiffer shocks absorbers and performance-tuned dampers with increased spring rates.

On the inside
The Holden Barina RS has a piano black finish to the interior, heated leather trimmed front seats with RS branding, leather gear shift knob and sports pedals.

Holden Barina RS rear

The bottom line
The Barina RS is only available as a hatch and the starting price for the manual version is $20,990 plus dealer and government charges. If you want the auto you’re going to be looking at a price that starts at $23,190.

The Holden Barina RS went on sale this week.

By | November 16th, 2013|Featured, Holden|0 Comments

The Holden Trax

The Holden TraxThe Holden Trax will be available in showrooms across the country from early September and it’s certainly going to add some interest to the small SUV market.

Not only is it coming into the market with a 5-star ANCAP safety rating but it’s also bringing a level of technology that Holden describes as “best-in-class” . Even the base model will have a suite of tech goodies that are usually reserved for models further up the range.

The Holden Trax will be offered in two trim levels starting with the LS that will carry a recommended retail price (not including dealer and government charges) of  $23,490 for the manual model and $25,690 for the Active-Select auto model. The recommended retail price for the Holden Trax LTZ will be $27,990.

When you look at the list of standard equipment in the Trax LS … which comes with a five-speed manual transmission as standard … and then compare it with the extras you get in the LTZ I think most people will happily settle for the LS six-speed auto option added in.

Even though the Holden Trax is built in South Korea an Australian engineering team from Holden has spent over two years working to produce a vehicle that is suited for Australian conditions. The suspension has been tuned and the engine calibrated for our conditions and the same setup will be used on the models that will go into the Russian, South African and New Zealand markets.

the instrument cluster in the Holden Trax

The body
The Holden Trax is 4278mm long and 1776mm wide. It’s 1674mmm high and it has a wheelbase of 2555mm. The kerb weight for the base model is 1356kg while the auto transmission adds another 15kg.

With all seats in the upright position there is just 356 litres of luggage capacity … remember, this is a small SUV … but with the rear 60/40 split-fold seats folded down the luggage capacity goes up to 785 litres and with the rear seats fully folded out of the way the luggage capacity increases to 1370 litres.

the luggage space in the Trax

Suspension and steering
The suspension in the Holden Trax features a McPherson strut arrangement at the front and a compound crank rear axle.

The mounting bushes on the rear axle have been tuned locally to reduce noise levels on dirt roads and the front struts and rear shocks have also received a lot of attention to ensure that the Trax can handle our rougher roads.

The Holden Trax is fitted with electric power steering that gives the vehicle a turning circle of 10.9 metres. The steering has also been tuned to handle our conditions. Particular attention was paid to the amount of feedback driver’s receive when travelling over dirt roads.

Urban drivers weren’t forgotten either and the steering at low speeds is quite light so it won’t be a chore to drive in tight urban environments.

Dashboard on the Holden Trax

The engine and transmission
The 1.8 litre double overhead cam, 16-valve, four cylinder petrol engine ECOTEC petrol engine is currently the only one available for the Trax. This engine produces 103kW of power and 175Nm of torque.  It’s not a new to Australia … It’s already been seen here in Australia in the latest Holden Cruze so local mechanics are familiar with it.

Despite having a cast iron cylinder block this engine is still considered to be lightweight thanks to a hollow frame. Other features of this engine include the double overhead camshaft with four valves per cylinder, dual continuously variable camshaft phasing, lightweight camshaft tappets with reduced friction, variable intake manifold, an electronically controlled cooling system, oil-water heat exchanger and piston-cooling oil jets.

Around 90 percent of peak torque will be produced in the 2,400 to 6.500rpm range and the fuel consumption figures are interesting. Usually the auto version produces better figures than the manual but not in this case. The manual version of the Holden Trax will produce 7.0L/100km on a combined cycle while the auto can only managed 7.6L/100km.

The fuel tank in the Trax will hold 53 litres.

Drive is through the front wheels and the transmission is via a five-speed manual box in the LS (auto is $2200 optional extra) and a six-speed auto box for the LTZ. There is no option for a manual box in the LTZ.

The interior and technology
seating in the Holden TraxThe front seats are contoured and obviously designed to offer support when cornering and the front seats in the Holden Trax LTZ are heated.

The passenger seat features a handy storage tray for things like your iPad or tablet. I’m sure that this is a feature that most buyers would be quick to use because there’s nothing worse than hunting for your iPad or tablet when you’ve slipped it under one of the front seats to keep it out of sight while you’re out of the car.

The dashboard features ice blue illumination and includes an instrument cluster that features a digital LED speedo and a very prominent analogue tacho.

The centre stack seems to dominate the front of the Holden Trax. It features a seven-inch touch-screen that’s linked to Holden’s MyLink infotainment system that gives drivers access to the widest range of apps available in an Australian vehicle.

Included in those apps is BringGo, a navigation system that has functions that include Google Places search … so now you can have Google right there in the car with you.

There’s also USB with iPod connectivity, Bluetooth etc. and of course air conditioning and ISOFIX child seat anchorage system are included as standard.

Of course the Holden Trax comes with all the safety options you expect to find in a vehicle that has a 5-star safety rating including Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist, Electronic Stability Control, ABS, EBD and traction control, six airbags, break-away brake pedal and three-point seatbelts

The Trax also comes with rear parking sensors and a rear view camera as standard … and the camera display appears on the screen in the centre stack where it is easy to see.

The Trax has been designed with a strong and stiff body that includes a multi-load path crash structure. The structure of the seat frames and the headrests have been designed provide added protection from whiplash injuries.

The rear of the Holden Trax

If the reality of driving a Holden Trax is as good as the hype says it is then Holden could be on a real winner here. A small SUV has certainly been missing from the Holden range and the Trax could be what a lot of people are looking for.

All images are of the LTZ and provided by Holden

By | August 14th, 2013|Featured, Holden|0 Comments

Holden Malibu 2013

Holden MalibuHolden first announced that the Chevy Malibu was first coming to Australia back in 2011 and finally it’s just about here. In fact it’s so close to arriving in the showrooms that Holden have announced pricing and equipment levels.

The Holden Malibu as it will appear in Australia is a Korean-built  four-door, front-wheel drive sedan powered by a 2.4 litre petrol or 2.0 litre diesel engine.

It will be available in two equipment levels … the entry level will be the Malibu CD and the top of the range will be the Malibu CDX.

Pricing will start at $28,490 for the entry level petrol Malibu CD and at the other end of the scale pricing for the Malibu CDX diesel will start at $35,990.

All prices are manufacturer’s recommended price and on-road costs and government charges are extra.

The body

The Holden Malibu is 4865mm long, 1855mm wide (excluding the mirrors) and it stands 1465mm high. The wheelbase is 2737mm with a front track of 1583mm and a rear track of 1585mm. Luggage capacity is 545 litres and fuel capacity is 73 litres.

Kerb weights for the CD are 1583kg for the petrol version and 1659kg for the diesel while the CDX weights in at 1610kg for the petrol and 1684kg for the diesel.

Holden Malibu side view

The engine

The Korean-built petrol engine is a 2.4 litre DOHC 16-valve, 4-cylinder unit that develops 123kW of power at 5800 rpm and 225 Nm of torque at 4600 rpm. It features an aluminium engine block and cylinder head.

Cam phasers for both intake and exhaust valves are also fitted as are digital sensors to provide greater precision in the data supplied to the onboard processor. Deep inside the engine there are oil-cooling jets to ensure optimal piston cooling and they will also give added long-term durability.

Holden Malibu petrol engine

Fuel consumption figures for the petrol engine on a combined cycle are 8.0L/100km and CO2 emissions are 192g/km

The German built diesel engine is a 2.0 litre common rail turbo. It features an electronically controlled turbocharger complete with intercooler that lowers fuel consumption and emissions and a diesel particulate filter system that Holden says will be maintenance-free for the life of the vehicle.

Holden Malibu diesel engine

Fuel consumption figures for the diesel engine on a combined cycle are 6.4L/100km for the CD and 6.5L/100km for the CDX. CO2 emissions for the CD are 170g/km and 172g/km for the CDX.


Both the CD and CDX diesel and petrol versions are fitted with a 6-speed Gen 2 automatic transmission with Active Select. There is no manual version available.

Steering and Suspension

Although this version of the Malibu is built in Korea it will come with a specially tuned suspension for Australian conditions that includes a McPherson Strut with lower ‘L’ arm as well as aluminium alloy front knuckles and lower control arm.

The diesel version of the Holden Malibu comes with hydraulic power steering while the petrol version has electric power steering.


The Holden Malibu comes with all the usual safety features, ESC, ABS, EBD, traction control, brake assist, 6 airbags, energy absorbing steering column, three-point seat belts in all seating positions, and a brake pedal that breaks away in an accident.

All models are fitted with a reversing camera and rear parking sensors as standard.

The brakes on the petrol version of the Holden Malibu 16″ ventilated discs on the front and solid discs on the rear while the diesel version comes with 17″ ventilated discs front and rear.

Both Malibu models feature sensor key technology and push-button start as well as auto headlights. Rain sensing wipers are standard on the CDX models.

Holden Malibu dashboard


The Holden Malibu comes with power height adjustable seats for the driver and front passenger as standard. The front seats are heated … standard on the CDX … and offer a choice of three heating levels.

Holden’s MyLink Infotainment system is standard across the range and features a 7″ full-colour touch-screen, the usual radio/DC capability, audio streaming via Bluetooth, phone integration and phone book support as well as Pandora and Stitcher apps.

Holden MyLink Infotainment system

One interesting feature of the Holden Malibu is the multiple hidden storage compartments in the passenger compartment … including one behind the touch-screen. These are easily accessible for people inside the car but effectively hide items from prying eyes outside the car.

It will be interesting to watch the sales of the Holden Malibu. Will the demand be there right from the start and continue on … or will we see a repeat of the initial high demand and then drop-off that we saw in the Holden Cruze?

Holden Malibu rear view

By | June 12th, 2013|Holden|0 Comments

2012 Series II Holden Captiva 7 LX Review

2012 Holden Captiva 7 LXThis is the second Holden Captiva we have had for review and I have to say that I approached it with some trepidation. The original Holden Captiva we tested was one of the first Captiva models to hit the market and to put it bluntly … we were not impressed.

It may have been the particular vehicle we had for the test but that first Captiva left us with some negative feelings about the vehicle that were definitely hard to shake off.

However the 2012 6-cylinder Series II Captiva 7 undid all those negative memories. That’s not to say that the Series II Captiva 7 is perfect … only one of the three drivers associated with Aussie Motoring that drove it was impressed … but in our estimation it is definitely a huge leap forward when compared to the first Captiva.

The vehicle we had for this test was the top of the range 6-cylinder Series II Holden Captiva 7 LX and the only option on the vehicle that we could identify was a factory-fitted towbar.

If you’re coming from a small car … one of our drivers regularly drives a Corolla … then the size of the Captiva 7 may catch you by surprise. It’s easy to think of this vehicle as being fairly compact … from the outside it does look that way … but once you’re in the driver’s seat you begin to realize that it’s a little bigger than you thought.

What we liked about the Captiva
All drivers were impressed by the visibility. You get such a good view from the driver’s seat that you tend to forget that the vehicle does have a nose that projects some way beyond the windscreen.

The sideview mirrors are big and they really do give you a good view of what’s on the left and right of the vehicle. The main rearview mirror also gives you a good view of what’s behind you and on the test vehicle it was fitted with auto-dimming so idiots with high-beam and/or fog lights aren’t as much of a nuisance as they might otherwise be.

The rear of the Series II Holden Captiva LX

The Series II Holden Captiva LX is also fitted with a reversing camera and it really does give you a great view of what’s behind you when you’re reversing. The image is displayed in the large screen at the top of the centre stack and that really does get a big tick of approval from me. I see no point in displaying a reversing camera image in the rearview mirror where light and reflection tend to make it hard to see.

The front seats that caused us so much discomfort in the first Captiva we tested were comfortable and provided plenty of adjustment. Tall drivers will have no problems … but you wouldn’t want to be a passenger in the second row of seats if the driver and passenger are tall. There’s not much legroom if the front seats are as far back as they can go.

Climbing into the third row of seats in the Series II Holden Captiva 7

The layout of the dashboard was also quite good and you’re not overwhelmed with irrelevant information. You get all the information you need and if you want more it’s not hard to find it but it’s just not there in your face.

With the third row of seats folded flat there’s 465 litres of luggage space and 930 litres with both rows of seats folded down.  There are also several places where you can tie down or secure anything you might be carrying in the back so some people might find that the Series II Captiva 7 could double as a delivery vehicle.

Pulling the third row of seats up after they have been folded flat was a breeze … it’s a pity the same thing couldn’t be said about the second row of seats.

Things we didn’t like about the Captiva
When are Australians going to lose their fascination with leather seats? All three drivers had the same opinion after driving the Captiva on relatively mild days up here in Queensland.

If you’ve got hemorrhoids there’s a quick way to get rid of them if you happen to own any vehicle that has leather seats. Go park it in the sun for a couple of hours and then sit on the leather seat and you’ll burn the hemorrhoids off … it might be bloody painful but it’s faster than the other option.

Fuel consumption figures for the Series II Holden Captiva 7

Scary urban fuel consumption figures

Fuel consumption was a major cause of unhappiness among the drivers. The 6-cylinder Series II Holden Captiva 7 has a 3.0-litre SIDI direct injection V6 engine coupled to a 6-speed auto transmission that on our vehicle had a truly frightening thirst. The transmission comes with a choice of standard or Eco mode and even though we spent most of our time driving it in Eco mode the fuel consumption figures were not good.

Fuel consumption figures for the Captiva 7 LX

The last highway fuel consumption figures we recorded. The figures from the first lot of highway driving were in the 11s

Holden says that you can expect to get 10.1L/100km on a combined cycle. Our best figures were in the mid to high 13s around town and the mid 10s on the highway no matter how conservatively we drove.

And to top that off we found the Captiva to be sluggish regardless of which mode we were operating in.  We did think that with a 6-cylinder engine the vehicle would have been fairly lively but that wasn’t the case in the text vehicle.

Gear changes in the auto box were good but the vehicle we tested seemed to have a noisy dislike for driving at a steady consistent speed when it was in Eco mode. There was plenty of whirring and whining coming from the transmission … although you probably wouldn’t hear it if you had the sound system running.


Holden Captiva 7 steering wheel

Two of the cruise control buttons are tucked away out of sight behind the buttons you can see on the right hand side

No one seemed to like the access to the third row of seats either. Of course that access is going require someone to fold part of the second row forward while people are climbing into the back but the second row of seats don’t slide forward so access is cramped and folding the second row back into position was not easy because the seats are heavy.

And then there are the proximity sensors … well not so much the sensors as the noise they make. The warning buzzer is on by default so every time you turn the ignition on in a crowded garage or parking area the buzzer will sound. Of course you can turn it off but as soon as you select reverse the buzzer is activated again.

One driver didn’t see that as much of a problem … perhaps her garage is neat and tidy … but that buzzer drove the other driver and me crazy.

Like all modern vehicles the Series II Holden Captiva has a number of controls on the steering wheel and most of them are quite visible and easy to use. However there are four controls … two on each side … that are actually mounted out of sight on the side/rear of the steering wheel and two of them are part of the cruise control.

Those controls were so out of sight that none of us ever engaged cruise control despite the fact that a lot of the distance we covered in the Captiva was highway driving.

The Series II Holden Captiva 7 comes with big screen satellite navigation system that’s easy to see and understand but sadly it’s years out of date for anything north of Brisbane. Speed limits were wrong … too high in some places and too low in others … and you wouldn’t want to rely on this system if you’re looking for a service station and thinking you might be able to get a little further before you had to stop for fuel.

The bottom line
One of our three drivers … a young professional thinking of starting a family … and looking for a new vehicle put this on her short list. The other two thought that for a vehicle worth in excess of $40k it was a little lacking.


plenty of luggage space in the Captiva 7 LX

A standard removalists packing carton can stand upright in the back of the Captiva 7 with only the third row of seats folded flat

Look around at other vehicles in the same category and you may find something better for less although you may not find anything better if you really do need that extra row of seats.

By | October 26th, 2012|Holden, Road Tests|Comments Off on 2012 Series II Holden Captiva 7 LX Review

Holden Cruze Wagon

holden cruze wagonStation wagons have always been popular here in Australia although  sales of wagons have taken a hit from SUVs and people-movers in recent years. However there is definitely still a place for the wagon in the Australian market and Holden certainly know that.

While their wagon sales have all been at the bigger end of the market they’re now getting ready to offer a wagon that’s a little smaller in the next 12 months.

A wagon version of the Holden Cruze will make its appearance at the Geneva motor show next month badged as a Chevrolet.  Of course the Cruze was designed by Daewoo … GM’s Korean car maker and that’s where the Cruze wagons destined for Australia will be built.

Every wagon needs luggage space and the Holden Cruze wagon has plenty of that for a small wagon.  A slightly longer body … 77mm longer than the Cruze sedan and 165mm longer than the hatch … means that the Cruze wagon has 500 litres of luggage space up to the window line … with the rear seats in the upright position.

When the rear seats are lowered there’s 1500 litres of space if you want to load the wagon to the roof line.

By | February 10th, 2012|Holden|Comments Off on Holden Cruze Wagon

Holden Barina Sedan

holden barina sedanLast year when Holden released the new Barina Hatch they told us that there was a sedan on the way and now it’s here.

Mechanically there’s very little difference between the new Barina sedan and the five-door hatch … both are powered by the same 1.6-litre 16-valve four cylinder engine that produces 85kW of power and the sedan comes with the same transmission too. A five-speed manual box is standard with a six-speed auto as an option,

Safety features in the Holden Barina sedan include a full suite of airbags including curtain airbags, dual front seatbelt pretensioners, electronic stability control and collapsible pedal release and that all adds up to a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

Obviously the biggest changes are in the bodywork at the rear of the vehicle. The boot has a capacity of 502 litres and Holden has worked hard to give the area around the boot what Holden describes as “… a more upscale and sleek appearance …”

The price for the new Barina sedan is slightly more than what you will pay for the hatch.  The recommended retail price (not including on-road costs) is $16,490 for the five-speed manual and
$18,490 for the six-speed manual.

It will be interesting to see how well the Barina sells in what is one of the most competitive segments in Australia.

By | February 7th, 2012|Holden|Comments Off on Holden Barina Sedan

Holden Series II Cruze Road Test

Imagine yourself sitting at a set of lights in a car that’s so new to you that you’ve only driven it for a block.

The lights turn green … you depress the accelerator … and for a moment nothing happens. Then … WHAM … you’re head snaps back as you’re hurled through the speed limit and into the arms of the first copper with a speed gun!

Fortunately there was no copper around with a speed gun on that occasion … or on a number of other occasions when the same thing happened during our test drive of the Holden Series II Cruze SRi-V … and it was just there to remind us that we were driving one hot little turbo-charged machine … even if it was only powered by a 1.4-litre petrol engine.

Did we enjoy the week we spent in the Series II Cruze Sri-V? Yes we did … but don’t get the wrong idea … we’re not about to say that the car is perfect because it’s not. There are some things that bugged us about this car but overall we think it’s pretty good!

The finish
One the things we rarely comment on in our reviews is the finish of the vehicle under review because press vehicles get a bit of a hammering and we have picked up vehicles in the past that have had bits hanging off them and once or twice we’ve seen body panels that don’t fit all that well … and that’s on overseas built cars.

Let’s face it Australian-made cars haven’t always had the best reputation for finish so I really should say something about the finish of the Series II Cruze … the Cruze that’s assembled in Australia. The finish on the car we drove was as good as you will see anywhere!

The panels fitted, there were no bits hanging off and even in the boot well … a place where poor workmanship is often most apparent the finish was good … all the joins were sealed … and we couldn’t fault it.

Even when we took it over about 20km of average Australian dirt road at a reasonable road speed there were no rattles and no dust got in anywhere. At the end of the trip on the dirt you could wipe your finger over the black dashboard and not see a trace of dust.

The engine
When we booked the car with the Holden press fleet in Brisbane I did wonder what it would be like to drive a car with an engine capacity of just 1.4-litres. Was it going to be a dog … and a very slow dog at that?

The Holden Series II Cruze Sri-V is fitted with a 1.4-litre, four-cylinder, 16 valve DOHC iTi turbo petrol engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on this vehicle but the vehicle we drove was fitted with the optional six-speed auto box with Active Select and I can tell you that ‘slow’ and ‘dog’ do not describe the performance you get from that combination.

Instead words such as ‘hot’, ‘sparkling’ and ‘nippy’ spring to mind when I think back on the week we spent in the vehicle.

Cruise control is standard on the auto and it worked well too. There was a little bit of lag when changing down for hills but I was prepared to live with that just to have something to help me keep the car under the speed limit. On the open road it wants to get a move on but I’m in no hurry to add to the Government’s income stream by speeding.

The one niggle that we had about engine/auto box combination was that Holden says that fuel consumption for the auto box with the 1.4-litre engine is 6.9L/100km. That was a figure we couldn’t get close to. The driving style of myself and the other tester here at AussieMotoring.com often seems to produce better fuel consumption figures than what manufacturers suggest but we really couldn’t get close to it with the Series II Cruze we tested.

We also noticed that by the time we returned the vehicle it had developed a slip between second and third gears and that was on a vehicle that had just under 8,000km on the clock.

Ride and handling
The Series II Cruze SRi and Sri-V both come Watts link performance suspension … and we loved it. We pointed our test vehicle into some of our favourite corners and curves at speeds that would normally induce at least some body roll in other vehicles but the test vehicle sat flat and on the dirt it was no different

Small cars on winding corrugated dirt and travelling at 80km/h or more usually don’t make for a good combination. The light weight combined with the poor road surface usually means that the car bounces around all over the place and on curves the rear of the car wants to overtake the front of the car … but not in our test vehicle.

There was never a hint that the rear of the car wanted to break out on curves and even over corrugation the car held its line. That 20 km of dirt road really sealed the deal for us as far as the quality of the car was concerned.

Apart from Watts link suspension there’s a full suite of control and handling programmes fitted as standard throughout the Cruze range.

I liked the layout of the dashboard and driver’s controls. They were all within easy reach and clearly labeled.

The onboard computer gives you more information than you could ever want and I expect that most drivers will rarely look at the most of the data that is available. The dials were easy to read and neither of us had any problems with glare or reflections in the dial coverings.

The air conditioning worked well and certainly kept the cabin cool in the early stages of another hot Queensland summer. The audio system was good too and it was handy to have the audio controls on the steering wheel.

The front seats were very comfortable and there’s plenty of back support if you need it. In the vehicle we tested the upholstery was black leather and the seats were heated but that’s not something we bothered testing … five minutes parked in the sun and the seats were more than hot enough for our liking.

Legroom for driver and front seat passenger is good too but if you’re tall don’t expect to be able to carry anyone but a dwarf in the back seat … there is just no legroom.

This is a car that would work well for you if you’re kids were still quite small … or had left home … but if they’re starting to grow and need some legroom then the Cruze is probably not the best choice for you or your family.

The Series II Cruze Sri-V comes with a touch-screen satellite navigation system as standard … and we thought that this was probably biggest mark against the Series II Cruze. Sat nav systems are not cheap and when you buy a new car with a system factory fitted you would expect to get the most up-to-date maps that included the most up-to-date data.

Sadly that’s not what came in the Cruze we were testing. The maps were four or five years out of date and were showing rail crossings that had been moved years ago, service stations that burnt down or closed years ago and other information that was just plain wrong or very out of date.

Access to the front and rear seats was quite good but access to the boot as limited. The Series II Cruze was a wonderfully big boot for the size of the car but because of the body shape you really do have to stretch in to get anything out of the back of the boot.

The shape of the rear passenger doors was painful for me too. I don’t know how many times I opened the door only to whack myself in the chest with the top corner of the door because I stood too close to it. By the end of the week I had begun to stand back from the door and so had the other tester.

Fortunately we can’t attest to the effectiveness of the safety equipment in the new Holden Series II Cruze because we didn’t have an accident but it’s nice to know that you’re protected by front and side-impact airbags as well as side curtain airbags.

The Series II Cruze is also fitted with auto headlights and, while that might be a safety feature that some drivers need, we found the system in the Cruze to be downright annoying for us and probably for some drivers around us too.

On a slightly overcast day the lights would come on every time we drove under a bridge and you can imagine how annoying that can get when there are a number of bridges in quick succession. (I just hope that burly truck driver didn’t think I was insulting him by flashing my lights at him.)

Of course you can turn that feature off … each time you drive the car … but the default setting is to have the auto headlight feature on.

The bottom line
The Holden Series II Cruze Sri-V is not a perfect car by any means but we loved it and we had fun in it … and somehow managed to pass every speed trap at a sedate speed.

By | January 16th, 2012|Holden, Road Tests|0 Comments

Holden Colorado 7

It’s been a while since Holden had anything in its line-up that could compete with the likes of the Toyota Landcruiser wagon or the Mitsubishi Pajero but that is set to change some time in the first quarter of 2013 when the Holden Colorado 7 is set to arrive.

This heavy duty off-road SUV is currently making its global debut at the Dubai Motor Show as the Chevrolet Trailblazer. While final details of what we’ll see in the local vehicle are yet to be decided Holden says that what you see here in the Chevy Trailblazer is very close to what you’ll see when it arrives here as the Colorado 7.

The Colorado 7 was designed in Brazil and it will feature body-on-frame construction, accommodation for seven people and a new 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine. Fuel consumption figures have not yet been released by Holden but the promise is that this new engine will have the fuel-efficiency expected by today’s “modern family”.

Particular attention was paid to the design to ensure that it has … what Holden describes as … “excellent” approach and departure angles to ensure that the Colorado 7 really can do more in the rough than just talk the talk. Holden also promises that their new SUV will come with the towing ability of a working vehicle.

On the inside the Trailblazer/Colorado 7 will come with all the creature comforts that you would expect including digital climate control and from the photos that Holden have supplied you will see that the flagship model will certainly feature everything a family could want … and the lighting is interesting too.

I don’t know about you but while this may be a totally new design I can’t help feeling that I’ve seen this vehicle somewhere before. While it does not remind me of a Toyota I think that it does bear some resemblance to something from Korea … perhaps that’s just an indication that we’ve reached the design limits for big SUVs.

Regardless of what it looks like it is good to see that we finally have Holden back in the big SUV market. It’s almost 10 years since we had a Jackeroo on the showroom floor and if this is as good as the Jackeroo was then we just might see some interesting movement in the serious 4×4 SUV market.

It’s just a shame that we have to wait till 2013 to see the Colorado 7 here in Australia.

By | November 11th, 2011|Holden|Comments Off on Holden Colorado 7

2011 Holden Barina Hatch

The new Holden Barina Hatch has been released and … with a driveaway price of just $16,990 Holden is going to be a very attractive option for buyers in what is a very competitive part of the new car market.

Of course there are cheaper alternatives to the Holden Barina but there’s a strong attraction in the brand name … people still consider that if a car is carrying the Holden badge then it must be an Australian car and that’s an important consideration when they’re deciding what to buy.

This version of the Barina comes from Korea but who will look beyond the Holden badge?

So what will a buyer get in their “Australian” Barina?

Well for a start people who buy the 2011 Barina are going to get a small car that has achieved a 5-star ANCAP safety rating and that puts it ahead of many of its competitors.

Among the safety features included in the new Holden Barina are driver, front passenger, front side and curtain airbags, dual front seatbelt pretensioners, front seatbelt reminders, Electronic Stability Control, a collapsible pedal release system and head restraints for all seats.

Concealed rear door handles give the impression that the new Barina Hatch is a three-door car and Holden say that is supported by the couple-like body profile.

The designers have pushed the wheels even closer to the four corners of the vehicle to add to its stability and give it a sportier appearance.

Holden claims that their new Barina Hatch has one of the largest interiors in its segment and the motorcycle-inspired instrument panel that appeared in the Barina Spark has been carried over to the hatch.

An analogue tacho is set within an asymmetrical LCD readout alongside a digital speedo.

Storage pockets have been included on either side of the centre stack and upper instrument panel and the glove box has two levels and two concealed storage areas with USB and auxiliary outlets.

The rear seat has the usual 60/40 split fold option so that it’s easy to increase the luggage area. With the seats up there is 290 litres of space but with the rear seat fully folded flat that increases to 653 litres.

Black cloth trim is standard on the Barina Hatch regardless of which colour a buyer chooses for the exterior.

The engine and transmission
The new Barina Hatch is powered by a 1.6-litre double overhead cam 4-cylinder engine that produces 85kW of power. The standard transmission is a 5-speed manual box and there’s a 6-speed auto with Active Select available as an option.

Retail Prices
I’ve already mentioned that the 5-speed manual version will be available at a driveaway price of $16,990 and that’s just $1,000 over the retail price. You can add another $2,000 to the manual’s retail price for the automatic box.

The new Barina Hatch will go on sale in Australia from November.

By | September 23rd, 2011|Holden|Comments Off on 2011 Holden Barina Hatch

Holden Omega Ute Road Test

For more years than most of us can remember Holden and Ford dominated the Australian Ute market but of course that domination has waned in recent years as Toyota and some of the other Japanese car makers have become more popular in the average ute buyer’s eyes.

These days Holden still produces utes but the ones that really sell for the company are those that appeal to people who may never put anything in the back of their ute but want to show other road users that they need to drive a lean mean machine.

In fact sports utes have become so popular that you will see lots of advertising for those SV6 and SS utes but almost nothing for the real workhorse in the Holden ute fleet … the Series II Omega Ute. And that’s a shame because the Holden Series II Omega Ute has a lot of good things going for it … as we found out recently when we spent a week road testing one.

The Series II Omega Ute that we tested was about as vanilla as you can get. It was the basic model with absolutely no extras at all and yet it had just about everything that a ute owner could want in power, comfort and safety.

Safety and comfort
The Omega has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating so you know that it comes with all the safety gear to protect you and the passenger in case of an accident. It also comes with the touch-screen Holden-iQ sound system (but without the virtual CD stacker) and air conditioning with dual-zone climate control, cruise control and a full side and bottom liner for the rear.

While the wheels are only 16” steel rims the average hoon can still get confused by the dual exhausts and begin to think that the Omega is actually an SV or an SS ute in disguise. It becomes even more confusing for them if you choose the black colour for your ute.

Space  and comfort inside the Omega Ute was surprising … there was more than enough legroom for a tall driver and the seats provided plenty of support. While I had no problem in the passenger seat others did find that the seating position might have been a bit low and the other half of the team could never find the sweet spot for the seat … it was either too close to the dash or too far away.

Despite the fact that this is a ute there are plenty of storage area behind the seats and there’s even a little storage area that seems to burrow back towards the load-carrying area. We managed to get three very full bags of groceries stowed away behind the seats.

The engine and transmission
The Holden Omega ute comes equipped with the standard 3.0L SIDI Direct Injection V6 engine coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. Usually that’s a great combination and most of the time it worked well in the test vehicle but there were times when there was a lot of roar from the responsive engine and not much go from the transmission as it wanted to think about just which gear it should be in.

If you read the other Commodore reviews here at AussieMotoring.com you will see that we’re not big fans of the cruise control fitted to the Commodores and the one in the Omega Ute didn’t do anything to improve our view.

While this one certainly changed down at appropriate times when we were heading up a hill I actually found that I could get better fuel consumption figures with the cruise control switched off.

Holden claim a very reasonable 9.6L/100km on a combined cycle and we got very close to that figure just driving around town and improved on it when we were traveling on what passes for a highway in this part of the country.

While I may not be a big fan of the way Holden’s cruise control works I certainly am a big fan of the way the Holden Commodore handles and even though the rear is obviously lighter I loved the way the Omega Ute handled. On wet or dry roads it was a pleasure to drive.

In the distant past Holden Utes were always built on the same chassis as their sedan counterparts but these days the Holden Ute is longer than the sedan. The exact figures are 4899mm for the sedan and 5060mm for the ute and that’s something you don’t notice till you park it in your average supermarket’s car park.

Unfortunately time constraints prevented me from taking the test ute off the tar and maybe the back might bounce around a bit on the corrugations you find on a typical dirt road but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was just as predictable on dirt as it is on tar.

What I missed
As I said before, the Omega Ute we tested was the absolute basic model and it came with no fancy extras and that worked for me … almost all of the time. The one thing I missed in the Omega Ute was a sat/nav system. The fact that I didn’t have one didn’t bother me till I was lost in Brisbane with a passenger who can’t read a street directory and no real idea of how close I was to where I wanted to go.

I suppose we managed to cope in the past when there were no sat/nav systems but I’ve been living in the modern era for too long. If I was buying an Omega Ute I’d pay the extra and get the Holden satellite navigation system … if only it was an option.

What I really didn’t like
Well I’ve already mentioned the cruise control but there was something else that I liked even less than the cruise control … the huge blind spot located just over the driver’s right shoulder.

It really is huge and even fiddling with the rear view mirror on the driver’s door didn’t get rid of it entirely. That blind spot made changing lanes more of a chore than it should have been … I had to look over my shoulder, lean forward to get a better view from the mirror and only then make the change.

I guess that the ultimate question for any reviewer is … would I buy one? And if I needed a solid ute that gave me some carrying capacity and comfort at a reasonable price then the Holden Series II Omega Ute would definitely be what I would choose.

But of course I’m not in the market for a ute of any kind so perhaps a better measure of how I found the Omega Ute is tell you that I was a bit sad to give it back at the end of the test while the other half of the team wasn’t so sad at returning it.

She thought that it was good to drive but wasn’t so keen on being a passenger.

By | July 27th, 2011|Holden|Comments Off on Holden Omega Ute Road Test

Have You Seen This Car?

holden-malibuIf you have then you’ve seen the Holden Malibu … well to be more precise you’ve seen the first Chevrolet Malibu to hit the roads in Australia … but we’ll call it a Holden because it’s not carrying any Chevrolet badging and next year it will be a Holden.

This Holden Malibu is here for testing and and calibrating by Holden’s Powertrain Engineering team not just for Australia but for General Motor’s markets outside of the US. General Motors plan on selling the Malibu in almost 100 countries around the world and to have it here for testing and calibration before it’s released into those markets shows how important the engineering team at Holden really are.

The Holden Malibu will hit the streets in late 2012 powered by a range of four-cylinder engines

The Holden Malibu will hit the streets in late 2012 powered by a range of four-cylinder engines

This vehicle is being tested at Holden’s Lang Lang Proving Ground and out on public roads around Australia so you could catch a glimpse of it but we will have to wait till late next year to see the Australian version of the Malibu on the showroom floor.

By | June 8th, 2011|Holden|3 Comments

Small Vans for Small Business

holden-combo-vanTimes are tough for small business here in Australia and so there’s no margin for error when it comes to spending our hard-earned money. We have to be sure to get as much bang as we can for every buck we spend so if your small business needs a delivery van the making the right choice of van for your particular situation is critical.

Not only do you need a van that will carry the load you need to shift every day but you also need one that isn’t going to cost you more than you can afford … is cheap to run and cheap to maintain.

So today we’re going to compare the three cheapest small vans that are currently available here in Australia … the Holden Combo, the Volkswagen Caddy and the Renault Kangoo.

Holden Combo

The Holden Combo is 4,322mm long and 1,892mm wide. It has a cargo area of 2,390 litres with a maximum floor to ceiling height of 913mm and a tray length of 1.78m. The cargo area also includes a rubber cargo mat. The Combo and will carry a maximum payload of 735kg.


Access to the cargo area is via a sliding kerb side door that opens to 62cm and twin vertical rear doors that will open out to 180 degrees. There are six anchorage points in the cargo area

The Combo is powered by a 1.4-litre petrol engine that will run on E10, 91octane ULP or 95 octane PULP. The engine delivers 66kW of power at 5,600rpm and 125Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. The engine is coupled to a five-speed manual gearbox and that combination has a fuel consumption of 6.34L/100km on a combined cycle.

A complimentary inspection is due at 3,000km or three months and the first service is due at 15,000km or 12 months.


Standard features in the cabin include driver and passenger front and side airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners with force limiters, air conditioning, single disc audio system and clothe trim on the seats.

The Holden Combo also comes with an anti-lock braking system and electronic brakeforce distribution. It has a towing capacity of 1,000kg braked and 500kg unbraked.

Holden doesn’t display the recommended retail price on their website but from a quick look at dealer prices it seems that you can expect to pay somewhere between $21,000 and $22,000 for a Holden Combo.

The warranty period is three years or 100,000km … whichever comes first.

Volkswagen Caddy Van

vw-caddyThe Volkswagen Caddy is 4,406mm long and 1,794mm wide. It has a cargo area of 3.2 cubic metres with a maximum floor to ceiling height of 1,244mm and a tray length of 1.78m. A rubber mat for the cargo area is an optional extra. The maximum payload is 780kg for the manual.

Access to the cargo area is via a sliding kerb side door that opens to around 70cm and your choice of a rear tailgate or vertical doors. There are six anchorage points in the cargo area.

You get the choice of a petrol or diesel four-cylinder engine in the Volkswagen Caddy. The petrol version has a direct injection 1.2-litre engine that produces 63kW of power at 4,800rpm and 160Nm of torque at 1,500 rpm. That engine is coupled to a five-speed box and you can expect to get around 6.9L/100km on a combined cycle.


The diesel version has a common rail direct injection 1.6-litre engine that produces 75kW of power at 4,400rpm and 250Nm of torque at 1,500rpm. That’s coupled to a fie-speed box and you can expect to see fuel consumption figures of around 5.7L/100km on a combined cycle.

Volkswagen don’t say a lot about service intervals so you’ll need to check with a dealer for that information.

Standard features in the cab include air conditioning, driver and passenger airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners, height adjustable front seats with under-seat storage, over-head storage and clothe trim on the seats.


The Volkswagen Caddy also comes with Electronic Stability Program, ABS, MSR, EDI and Hill Holder.

The warranty period is three years and unlimited kilometers (12 years for corrosion) plus you get road side assistance for the warranty period

The recommended retail price for the Volkswagen Caddy is $21,990 for the petrol version and $26,650 for the diesel and of course you have to add dealer and government charges to those figures to get the on-road cost.

Renault Kangoo

renault-kangoo-vanThe Renault Kangoo is 4,213mm long and 1,829 wide. It has a cargo area of 3.0 cubic metres with a maximum floor to ceiling height of 1,251mm and a tray length of 1,476mm with a sill height ranging from 588mm to 609mm.

Access to the cargo area is via kerb side sliding door and rear doors that open out to 180 degrees and the cargo area comes with a liner as standard along with floor and side anchorage points. The maximum payload for the petrol model is 650kg and 800kg for the diesel model.

You get a choice of petrol or diesel engines in the Renault Kangoo. The 1.6-litre petrol engine produces 78kW of power at 5,750rpm and 148Nm of torque at 3,750rpm. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard with the petrol engine and with that combination you can expect to get around 8.3L/100km on a combined cycle.


The 1.5-litre diesel engine produces 63kW of power at 3,750rpm and 200Nm of torque at 1,900rpm. A five speed manual transmission is standard with the diesel engine and with that combination you can expect to get around 5.2L/100lm on a combined cycle.

Renault claim that the diesel Kangoo provides the best fuel consumption and emission figures in the class.

Renault don’t say a lot about service intervals so you’ll need to check with a dealer for that information.

Standard features in the cab include height adjustable steering wheel, air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, a single CD audio system, overhead parcel shelf and electric folding door mirrors.


Safety features include ABS with EBD, front driver airbag, side impact bars in the doors and load-limiters and pre-tensioners for the seat belts.

The warranty period is 3 years or 150,000km and you get 24 hour road side assistance as well.

Unusually the recommended retail price for both the petrol and diesel version of the Renault Kangoo is the same at $24,490. Government and dealer deliver charges have to be added to that.

So which would you buy? The diesel Kangoo certainly looks good value for money if your looking at running costs and it’s certainly carries the biggest payload but in many cases it’s going to come down to something far more personal than price or payload.

If you’re going to spend a lot of time in the driver’s seat the choice of small van for your small business is going to come down to which seat you feel the most comfortable in and which offers your aching back the most support.

By | May 22nd, 2011|Holden, Renault, VW|1 Comment

The Holden Omega Ute

holden-omega-uteThe Australian ute … my how it has changed over the years. When I was a teenager a ute was a workhorse … not a fashion statement.

It had a basic one-piece body, a bench seat, three on the column (automatic if you were wealthy), rubber mats on the floor and if you wanted to keep cool or demist the windscreen you opened the quarter vents and drove a little faster. If you wanted a fan you worked out how to mount one on the dashboard yourself and no one even considered offering accessories. Utes were for working … not looking pretty.

The motor was a straight six that anyone with half a clue could work on and if you broke down there was always someone not too far away who could do a quick temporary repair and get you on the road again.

It was tough and reliable and every farmer and lots of tradies had one.

These days of course things have changed. The basic ute as a workhorse is almost an endangered species and Holden sell so few basic utes that finding an official photo of one is like hitting the jackpot. You can always find plenty of photos of the four utes in Holden’s sports range but when it comes to the Omega ute it’s almost as if Holden wants to hide it away.

But the basic Holden ute is still out there so let’s see just how basic it really is.

The engine
As you would expect, the Holden Omega ute is powered by the same 3.0-litre SIDI V6 as you find in the sedan range. The engine, with its double overhead Cam and four valves per cylinder, twin knock control sensors with individual cylinder adaptive control and on-board diagnostics, is nothing like the engines found in early utes but it’s still as dependable as ever.


Maximum power of 190kW arrives at 6,700rpm and maximum torque of 290Nm cuts in at 2,900rpm. Holden couples the V6 engine to a standard six-speed automatic gearbox with the gear selector mounted on the floor and not on the column as in days gone by. That combination will return fuel economy figures of 9.6L/100km on the combined cycle.

There’s also an LPG option for the Holden Omega ute that produces slightly less power but more torque and is coupled to a four-speed automatic transmission.

Early Holden utes had drum brakes all round … a system that tended to lead to some hair-raising moments if you had just run through some water. Seat belts … well later models had them but the ute I drove on the farm in the mid 1960s certainly didn’t.

The Holden Omega on the other hand comes with a full suite of safety features. Ventilated discs all round, electronic stability control, six airbags, traction control, anti-lock braking system, electronic brake distribution and everything else that’s needed to give it a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.


Other features
Other standard equipment levels include power mirrors, power windows, 4-way power adjustment for the driver’s seat, cruise control, multi-function steering wheel, dual-zone air conditioning, multi-function dashboard display, automatic headlamp mode, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, Touch-screen Holden-iQ System (with full-colour sat-nav system as an option) and one-touch access to the storage area behind the seats.

You also get a full-sized spare with Holden’s tyre sealant and air compressor kit as an option and in the back there’s six tie-down hooks and a full-sized high-density polyethylene tubliner as standard.

For a basic ute that’s quite a list of standard features but of course there’s also quite a range of options too. You can have just about anything from leather highlights through to soft or hard tonneau covers for the tub, rear park assist, lambswool seat inserts, pollen filters, roo bars, towing packages and much more.

So the basic Aussie ute has come a long way in the last 45 years – and while it’s still tough it now comes with a range of safety features and creature comforts that early ute owners probably never even dreamed of having.


By | May 2nd, 2011|Holden|Comments Off on The Holden Omega Ute

Holden Malibu

holden-malibuIf there has been one thing that has been missing from the Holden line-up it’s a medium-sized car but next year that will all change with the introduction of the Holden Malibu. … a right-hand drive version of the Chevrolet Malibu that made its international debut today at the Shanghai Auto Show.

What we’re seeing in the Holden Malibu is basically General Motors mid-sized world car – a four-door, five-seat, front wheel drive vehicle that General Motors plans on selling in around 100 different countries.

What we do know is that the exterior design has been inspired by the Camaro and Corvette muscle cars and inside you’ll find soft-touch and textured surfaces and what GM describe as a “dual cockpit” arrangement for the driver and front-seat passenger.


There will be ice-blue lighting for the dashboard and even a hidden storage area tucked away behind the radio interface.


Here in Australia the Malibu will be powered by a range of four-cylinder engines and we’ve been promised “a high level of safety and a range of features and technologies” but we’ll have to wait till we get closer to the launch date to find out exactly what Australia will see in the Malibu.

By | April 19th, 2011|Holden|Comments Off on Holden Malibu

The Colorado Show Truck

gm-colorado-truckIs this the next Holden Colorado?

At the moment all GM is saying is that it’s a show truck … built for the Bangkok International Auto Show that opened last week … and a new Colorado will be released later this year

Why unveil what could be the next Colorado in Thailand? Well it might have something to do with the fact that Thailand is the world’s largest market for vehicles like this and right now General Motors isn’t in that market with the current Colorado.

So what are we seeing in what GM describes as “a Colorado Show Truck”?

For a start the chassis it’s sitting on is designed to be an all-wheel-drive and the engine that’s currently under the bonnet is a 2.8-litre turbo diesel.


On the outside we can see that the body features an extended cab with doors that open wide to give plenty of access to the cabin. On the inside the dashboard on this show truck includes three-dimensional gauges, the seats are leather and there’s dual-zone climate control too.


On the centre stack there’s a 7-inch LCD screen that gives drivers access to the Internet or a satellite navigation system.

Of course some of the fancy bits are certain to disappear when the new Colorado goes into production and the base model will be far more Spartan than what we see here but that doesn’t mean that the new Colorado isn’t going to challenge the big three in Australia’s ute market.

By | March 29th, 2011|Holden|Comments Off on The Colorado Show Truck

Holden Cruze Hatch

holden-cruze-hatchThe Holden Cruze II is hitting the showrooms this month and Holden is keeping the Cruze ball rolling with the release of the first images of the new Cruze Hatch.

Now you may see something different in these photo but I’m definitely seeing overtones of the Holden Astra in the new Holden Cruze Hatch even though it was designed by Holden’s Port Melbourne design studio.

While we’ll have to wait a little while longer to see the Cruze Hatch here in Australia it’s currently in production as a Chevrolet that was introduced to the world at the Geneva Motor Show.

By | March 16th, 2011|Holden|Comments Off on Holden Cruze Hatch

Commodore VE Series II SV6 Sportwagon Road Test

seriesII-sv6-sportwagonBack in September Holden launched the new Series II range of VE Commodores with a lot of talk about a new touch-screen infotainment centre.

At that time I was a bit of a smart-arse and wondered whether there was really anything that was really different between the first VE Commodores and the Series II if all Holden PR people could talk about was the infotainment system. You can read what I had to say here.

Way back in April of last year we road tested the Series I Holden Berlina Sportwagon and found that it was a good dependable vehicle. It was a Holden … it was reliable … you could get it fixed just about anywhere in Australia and that was about it. It was a nice drive but there was nothing to get too excited about

What we didn’t say was that both my partner and I found that the steering was a bit heavy and when you got behind the wheel you knew you were driving a big car.

Well now we’ve had a week in the Series II SV6 Sportwagon and I’ve got retract what I said when the Series II VE Commodores were first released. Sure there’s an infotainment centre in the car that’s interesting but we hadn’t driven a block in the new SV6 Sportwagon before we knew that the difference between the Series I and the Series II VE Commodore was like chalk and cheese.

The Series I was solid … dependable … and bit heavy while the Series II was just as solid … just as dependable … and it was light and responsive and just plain fun to drive. Oh … and it also had that infotainment centre that Holden made such a fuss about when they released the Series II.


The vehicle as tested
The vehicle we tested was the Series II VE Commodore SV6 Sportwagon that Holden is currently offering from $41,990 drive away. For that price you a 3.6-litre 210kW SIDI Direct Injection motor coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission (with Active Select) and a limited slip diff.

That set up returned a combined cycle fuel consumption of 9.9L/100km.

Standard equipment includes that much heralded touch-screen infotainment centre, sports suspension, a full suite of handling and braking programmes, six airbags, 18 inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, cruise control, rear park assist, dual-zone climate control, remote locking, 60/40 split rear seats that fold flat and more.

The vehicle we tested was optioned up with a full-size spare (standard according to the Holden website is a tyre sealant kit), satellite navigation and a reversing camera.

Where we tested
We covered over 1600km in the SV6 Sportwagon and that ranged from heavy city traffic around Brisbane, highway running on the Bruce Highway that varied from smooth four-lane cruising to rough goat track where we had to weave around potholes, and secondary road cruising (that was sometimes better than the highway … and sometimes worse) when we did the tourist thing and visited the Town of 1770 and Agnes Waters on the Discovery Coast here in Queensland.

We used the vehicle as if it were our own … we did the shopping … we did the usual running about that we do for my partner’s business … and we did the after-hours social things that we do … dining out and just generally having a good time.


The engine and transmission
It was responsive and the gear changes in the six-speed box were smooth and barely noticeable unless you really stamped on the accelerator. Then you dropped three gears and wondered how many orbits you would do before came back to earth again..

I used the Active Select option once or twice just to see how well it worked and it was fine but it’s not something that you’ll use all the time … or even occasionally for that matter. It’s just easier to slip the gear selector into D and let the automatic gear box do its thing.

Fuel consumption was certainly within the figures supplied by Holden and it seemed to take a lot of kilometres before the 71-litre fuel tank began to run short on fuel.


Ride and handling
This was where we really noticed the difference between the Series I and the Series II Commodore. At slow speed the steering in the Series II Sportwagon was so much lighter than what it had been in the Series I that we tested.

Toni thought that there were times when the wagon got a little twitchy when she really had to weave through the potholes but I didn’t notice that when I was driving. For me the steering was always very predictable and well-behaved … even at high speed.

Ride was just as good as what we had found in the Series I but the sports suspension in the SV6 kept the wagon sitting flat on tight bends and through all that pothole weaving that I mentioned earlier. Why weave through those potholes? Well up here in Queensland they tend to be deep and they can destroy your suspension and shred a tyre in the blink of an eye.


If you read the Series I road test you will have noticed that one of the things that really bugged me was all the bells and whistles that Holden have for various events. Unfortunately they still have them all … and a few more if you have the satellite navigation option fitted.

Apart from that little annoyance the interior of the Series II SV6 Sportwagon is pretty good. There’s plenty of legroom front and back and the front seats provide plenty of support for the driver and passenger. We both have bad backs and a long trip in an uncomfortable seat can really hurt but we had no trouble with the seats in the Series II wagon.


The rear seats have the usual 60/40 split fold set up and laying them down flat is a very simple matter. Getting the rear seats set up again took very little time and you don’t have to be Hercules to get pull them back into position.


Even with the seats up in the normal position there’s plenty of room in the back of the vehicle and you could easily fit the week’s shopping plus a pram and some extra gear in the space available. There’s also plenty of storage hooks and handy little storage nets to hold small items and there’s a cargo blind as well for those times when you don’t want prying eyes to see what you’re carrying.


One unusual feature of the Series II Sportwagon is the placement of the vehicle’s battery. It’s not tucked away in the engine bay as you would expect … instead it’s in a compartment on the left-hand side of the luggage space.


The optional full-size spare sits under the floor of the luggage area along with the jack and associated bits and pieces. Personally this is an option that I would always choose to have. Maybe I’m a Luddite but I’d rather have a spare tyre than a can of sealant any day.

Driver’s controls
The dashboard is well set out and all the instruments are easy to read and understand. On the photos of the dashboard you will notice that there’s a reflection that shows up right across the front of the gauges. You’re unlikely to notice that when you’re driving the vehicle and I certainly didn’t see it until I was checking the photos I had taken.

seriesII-sv6-sportwagon-stackThe dual-zone air conditioning is easy to operate … as are all the controls on the dash, steering wheel and centre stack. The light switch is out of sight behind the steering wheel for most drivers but it always defaults to automatic mode so it’s unlikely that you will ever need to turn the lights on manually.

I didn’t like the idea that the lights stayed on at night for some time after you’ve switched off the ignition so I always turned the lights off manually but I had no trouble finding the switch.

Setting up the stereo and the radio wasn’t difficult and Holden left a great choice of music in the system. There was everything from classical to rock and it certainly showed just how good the sound system was.

The satellite navigation system was interesting and I have to admit that it’s the first time I’ve ever used one. It’s an option in the SV6 Sportwagon and it’s an option I would probably have fitted if I were buying a new Holden.

It wasn’t a hundred per cent accurate and when it showed speed limits they weren’t always the right one for the part of the road we were driving on. For example the highway to the north of the truck inspection station on the Bruce Highway just out of Caboolture is posted for 110km/h but the satnav system was sure that it was only 100km/h. The warning that kept flashing on the main dashboard and telling me that I was exceeding the speed limit got annoying after a while.

Directions weren’t always entirely accurate either and it took some convincing to get the system to believe that we really did know better than it did. On our first experiment to get the system to guide us from our place out onto the highway and to a small town on a back road on the way to Agnes Waters the system kept trying to send us on a route to the highway that was a long way off the real route.

Apart from that glitch the satnav worked quite well and you can set it to sound an alarm when you’re nearing certain locations such as railway crossings … schools … red-light cameras and even public toilets. Now don’t laugh … that’s a particularly useful feature if you’re a baby boomer on a long country trip or the parents of young kids who can only ever last from one toilet to the next.

The SV6 Sportwagon that we tested also had a reversing camera that displays on the centre stack when reverse gear is selected. We loved it! It gave a great view of what was behind us and it made getting out of shopping centre car parking spaces a breeze.

Personally we think that every vehicle on the road should have a reversing camera fitted and the display should always be somewhere on the dash and definitely not in the reversing mirror where the image is often lost in the glare.


The seats were really comfortable and after several hours on the road our backs weren’t complaining at all. Noise levels in the cabin were very low. Of course you’re going to hear some noise when you hit a pothole but the general road noise didn’t intrude into the cabin at all.

We managed to do our travelling on some of the hottest and most humid days Queensland had experienced this summer and yet we never felt any discomfort till we got out of the wagon. The air conditioning was just outstanding and every time we got out of the car we couldn’t wait to get back in.

So you want to be noticed?
Then the SV6 Sportwagon … and more particularly the Red Hot version is the vehicle you should be driving. It has an obvious presence on the road and when people look at it they just know that it take off like a rocket.

It’s also a vehicle that stands out in the crowd and you certainly won’t lose it in a parking area.


What can I say … we loved it! By comparison the SeriesI was a bit ho hum while the Series II was exciting and definitely fun to drive. We liked it so much that we really didn’t want to give it back and when that comes from a couple of confirmed SUV lovers that’s really saying something.

By | March 6th, 2011|Holden, Road Tests|3 Comments

Series II Cruze

holden-series-II-cruzeThe Holden Series II Cruze is out and not only is it the newest Australian-built car on the market but one of the models in the range is the most fuel-efficient conventional car made in Australia..

The Holden Series II Cruze also introduces two new sports models to the range so there are now four models to choose from. There’s also a new generation 2.0-litre turbo diesel option in the range and when this engine is combined with the six-speed manual transmission the combined fuel cycle is 5.6L/100km.

There’s also an all-new 1.4-litre iTi (intelligent Turbo induction) petrol engine option with variable valve timing for those who still aren’t sure about a car powered by a diesel engine. The new 1.4-litre iTI engine returns a combined cycle of 6.4L/100km on manual models and all models that particular engine have electronic power steering and Watts link performance suspension too.


For those who want a little more power than a 1.4-litre engine might return the Series II Cruze still comes with the same 1.8-litre engine that was available in the previous model as the standard engine. This engine delivers a combined cycle of 6L/100km.


The top of the range
The Cruze Sri-V is the luxury vehicle in the range and comes with a standard equipment level that includes passive entry and start technology, satellite navigation with full colour widescreen display and a premium multimedia audio/DVD system with 10GB hard drive enabling owners to store around 2000 songs. The system also has the ability to pause live radio for up to 20 minutes.

With six airbags and a full suite of stability, braking and traction control programmes a five-star ANCAP rating was inevitable.

Cruze also benefits from a robust body structure which comprises 65 per cent high-strength steel and a technically advanced chassis systems which deliver enhanced accident avoidance capabilities. Energy-absorbing load paths protect the passenger safety cell and offer optimum protection in the event of a collision.


Series II Holden Cruze CD standard feature highlights:

  • Engine options of 1.8L ECOTEC engine, 1.4 iTi DOHC turbo petrol or 2.0L DOHC turbo diesel.
  • New 16-inch wheel trims
  • Six-speaker multimedia audio system with radio, in-dash CD, USB flash drive/iPod/MP3 compatibility
  • Steering wheel remote audio and cruise controls
  • Graphic information display
  • Six airbags – front driver and passenger, front side impact, side curtain
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
  • Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)
  • Traction Control
  • Brake Assist
  • Collapsible pedal assembly system
  • Air conditioning
  • Power windows all round
  • Automatic headlamps
  • Body-coloured door handles
  • Watts link performance suspension (paired to 1.4 iTi model only)


Series II Holden Cruze CDX additional feature highlights:

  • Engine options of 1.8L ECOTEC or 2.0L DOHC turbo diesel
  • New 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Fog lamps
  • Leather-appointed seat trim
  • Leather-wrap steering wheel and shifter
  • Heated front seats
  • Rear park assist
  • Chrome exterior highlights

Series II Holden Cruze SRi additional feature highlights over CD:

  • 1.4L iTi DOHC turbo petrol engine
  • Front and rear sports fascia and rocker covers
  • Rear lip spoiler
  • Sporty five-spoke sports 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Chrome door handles
  • Sonic blue cloth trim (standard on Voodoo and Karma exterior colours only)
  • Watts link performance suspension
  • Front fog lamps
  • Leather-wrap steering wheel and shifter

Series II Holden Cruze SRi-V additional feature highlights over the SRi:

  • Leather appointed seats
  • Heated front seats
  • Passive entry and start with Sensor Key technology
  • Integrated satellite navigation
  • Integrated 7-inch colour LCD screen
  • Premium audio system with 10GB hard drive, CD/MP3 rip and store capability, DVD player and pause live radio functionality
  • Rear park assist

CD 1.8L Petrol – $20,990

CD 1.4iTi – $22,240

CD Diesel – $24,990

CDX 1.8L Petrol – $24,490

CDX Diesel – $28,490

SRi 1.4iTi – $24,490

SRi V 1.4iTi – $27,990

Automatic transmission adds $2,000 to each model and prestige paint adds another $500

The new Series II Cruze will go on sale in late March.


By | February 28th, 2011|Holden|1 Comment