Launch of the new Holden SIDI Commodore

janina-commodoreI had the pleasure of attending the launch of the new Holden Commodore. Being my first car launch – I had no idea what to expect. However, once at Melbourne Airport there was no time to ponder as I was whisked away in a coach full of equally curious attendees for our 2-day introduction to the new and improved MY 2010 Holden Commodore VE and VM models; and the new SIDI (Spark Ignition Direct Injection) engine.

We were warmly greeted by Holden staff including Holden’s new Chairman and Managing Director Alan Batey. Mr Batey’s opening message was clear – Holden are looking to a future of reduced dependence to foreign fuel and developing cleaner alternatives including electric, hybrid, biofuels and fuel cell technology. He emphasised that this launch was about the present and the innovation Holden is making available to today’s driver.
The Power and the Passion

The morning featured presentations by Holden’s top engineers and executives who were genuinely excited about the new SIDI engine technology. A cutaway SIDI engine demonstrated how the new technology increases fuel efficiency by directly injecting fuel into the combustion chamber producing less CO2 emissions while offering more power and refined performance. Admittedly, the technicalities of how this all happens were a little over my head but the fact that this meant saving dollars at the fuel pump needed no further explanation.

The new SIDI engine offers up to 13 per cent better fuel efficiency than the previous engine averaging 9.3 litres/100km from 11.2litres/100km. Keeping in line with Holden’s view to a greener future, the reduction of carbon emissions from the new engine has improved up to 14 per cent with 221g/km from 256g/km on the Omega Sportwagen.

A Drive in the Country

After lunch, we were escorted to the colourful convoy of new V6 Commodores lined up outside and together with our Holden navigators, proceeded our mini-drive around the country roads of outer Melbourne.

The weather had turned and it was raining as we began our drive, which provided a good test ground. The combination of refined suspension and new Bridgestone Turanza low roll resistance tyres provided good handling and comfortable ride through wet, bitumen, gravel and dirt roads.

The new SIDI engine provided power off the mark, which gives you confidence to cross that tricky intersection in city traffic or overtake on the open road. The new engine is also a lot quieter than its predecessor and to me felt equally, if not slightly more, powerful. The new 6-speed automatic transmission was also smooth and seamless suffering no lag or loss of power between gear changes.

I was especially keen to get behind the wheel of the SV6 Ute, as I’d never driven one, and was surprised to find it handled as well as the sedan or Sportwagon. Actually, sitting in the driver’s seat looking forward, it’s hard to distinguish the difference between the models. All were comfortable, stylish, sporty and spacious and easy to drive and park.

Lean, Mean Green Machine

Day two started with an early breakfast in preparation for our drive from Melbourne to Albury. The day was split into four legs, driving different models on each and we were competing against each other for the coveted title of Most Fuel Efficient Driver.

Not being the overly competitive type, I chose to drive as I would normally and still ended up averaging between 7.5 and 8.5 litres per 100km, which although impressive, wasn’t enough to even achieve third place.

Those who drove more conservatively achieved an average of up to 6.8L/100km on some parts of the drive, which well and truly takes the SIDI into 4-cylinder fuel economy territory. This is quite a revolution for the Commodore which has, up till now, been perceived as a ‘fuel guzzler’ and lost some popularity over the past couple of years to smaller cars.

Holden successfully demonstrated that the SIDI engine was indeed the real deal in terms of fuel efficiency by driving the MY 2010 Commodore Omega SIDI from Melbourne to Sydney on one tank of fuel – that’s around 900km on a 73-litre tank!

Less fuel consumption also means less CO2 emissions and the http://www.greenvehicleguide.com.au gives the MY 2010 Holden Commodore V6 SIDI the thumbs up with a 5.5 Greenhouse rating and overall 4 stars.

Safety First

The MY10 VE and WM Commodore range still boast 5-star ANCAP ratings with a bevy of safety features including ESC, ABS, TCS, EBD and EBA plus 6 airbags; and are anticipating a 5-star rating, pending ANCAP testing, on the V6 Ute which now boasts 6 airbags as standard.

The Sedan and Sportwagon each have 3 child restraint anchor points in the back and central locking and child lock rear doors.
Sporty Style

While there has been no change to the overall body of the Commodore, it remains contemporary and sporty, safe and spacious. Holden have, however, introduced two new metallic colours to their already popular spectrum – Poison Ivy, a sophisticated and eye-catching green, and Wildfire a light burnt orange that sure to be popular in the sportier models.

The interior is conservative but sporty with a no-nonsense, uncluttered dashboard and easy to read trip computer. The steering wheel feels nice and solid and comes with audio controls. There are various options in interior colour and trim across the range. The seats also comfortably accommodate people of all sizes, which is an important fact to consider for growing families.

Standard features across the range still include:

* Cruise control

* Power windows and exterior mirrors

* Light sensing headlights

* Multifunction Driver Display

* Steering wheel audio controls.
Room to Move

The Holden Commodore has always been popular with families and companies because of its spaciousness. The Commodore still boasts a large 496-litre boot for all your gear and plenty of leg and head room to seat 5 adults comfortably in the sedan. The Sportwagon offers a generous 2000 litre boot volume with the second row of seats folded flat.

Other handy storage features include sunglasses holder, large centre console compartment with two cupholders and fold down rear seat centre “ski” hatch.

A Little Extra Luxury

Who doesn’t like to feel spoiled?  The Commodore range really does have something for everyone. For those who appreciate the finer things in life combined with practicality, performance and fuel economy, the Calais V-series is definitely one for the shopping list.

As well as all the standard features, the top of the range Calais V-Series sedan and sportwagon offers luxurious features such as:

* Leather heated seats

* DVD player

* Rain-sensing wipers

* Driver seat and mirror positioning with memory for three

* Front and rear park assist

* Luggage net in boot

* Door entry lights

* 11 speaker, 6-disc CD/MP3 audio system

* Dual zone climate control

* Bluetooth for mobile phones.

Price
Holden are unashamedly setting about wooing back families with the new V6 SIDI Commodore 3.0- and 3.6-litre range from its 4- and 6-cylinder competitors and after 2 days in the driver’s seat of the new range, I was convinced that Holden are well and truly back in the running to conquer this segment and remain Australia’s favourite car for the 14th year in a row.

Another reason to put the Commodore on your list is price. The only increase in price on the new range of V6 Commodores is the Omega and Berlina models by $700. The rest remain at 2009 prices.

3.0L SIDI

Berlina (auto):                           $43,490 RRP
Omega sedan (auto):              $39,990 RRP
Omega Sportwagen (auto):  $41,990 RRP

3.6L SIDI

SV6 Sedan (manual)       :      $42,790 RRP
Calais V     (auto)             :      $48,290 RRP
Calais V Series (auto)     :      $56,790 RRP
SV6 Ute     (manual)        :      $38,490 RRP
SV6 Sportwagon (auto) :      $45,790 RRP
Calais V Sportwagon (auto)  :      $58,790 RRP

For more information, visit http://www.holden.com.au

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