Just pretend it’s not a Commodore

Riley Riley

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What is it?

One of the new, no longer made in Australia Commodores.

The Calais-V sits one from the top of the range, eclipsed only by the sporty VXR.

It’s not cheap, but you get a lot of car for your money and a sleek European lines to go with it.

With a beefy V6, all-wheel drive and loads of features — there’s not much to complain about.

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What’s it cost?

Prices for the liftback (you know it’s a liftback and not a sedan right?) start from $33,690 for the four cylinder turbo LT with an auto.

If you want the V6 you also buy into all-wheel drive, with prices starting from $40,790 for the RS.

Our Calais-V is $51,990 plus on roads.

Standard features with this model include leather and climate air, auto lights, wipers and rear view mirror, adaptive LED matrix head lights, adaptive cruise control, front and rear park sensors, Advanced Park Assist (auto parking), heated seats as well as cooled front seats, plus a massage function for the driver’s seat.

There’s also a sunroof, 8.0-inch colour touchscreen, satellite navigation with camera warnings, DAB digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Head-up display, 360-degree camera, wireless phone charging,  and BOSE premium audio.

The safety package includes:

  • Autonomous Emergency Braking
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Following Distance Indicator
  • Forward Collision Alert with Head-Up Warning
  • Side Blind Zone Alert
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert

Commodore comes with a space saver spare and five-year warranty.

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What’s it go like?

Sitting long and low with 20-inch wheels it looks a bit like a Mazda6 from the front or perhaps an Audi viewed from the side.

Performance is sharp and the exhaust note has a pleasant rasp.

Being all-wheel drive it negates the whole front wheel versus rear wheel drive argument.

And, being all wheel drive, it’s also safer and more agile — especially in the wet.

The 3.6-litre V6 is an updated version of the tried and tested Alloytec V6 that we’ve seen in previous Commodores.

Only this time it’s turned sideways and powers all four wheels instead of the rear wheels, in this model at least.

It’s paired with a 9-speed auto that delivers power to all four wheels through a sophisticated all-wheel drive system with torque vectoring.

This time around the V6 develops 235kW of power and 381Nm of torque.

Fuel consumption is reportedly 8.9L/100km, or so we believe.

It’s difficult to extract any fuel consumption figures from any of Holden’s websites or press material.

After a while you get the feeling they don’t want people to know?

The seats are comfortable and supportive, with power adjustment for the side bolsters in this model.

It took a while for the penny drop, but it has only a digital speedo which is so much simpler and easier to read.

Legroom front and back is good and the boot offers plenty of storage space, especially with the rear seats folded.

This is our second drive in one of the new Commodores and both have been liftbacks.

It’s perhaps a style that Holden should have adopted earlier as it offers many practical advantages.

For instance, in the middle of reviewing the car our dishwasher packed it in.

A replacement secured, we were able to fit it in the back complete with its cardboard packaging.

The guy loading the looked sceptical at first, but smiled when we lifted the back.

When I said the car was all-wheel drive, it actually remains front-wheel drive most of the time like the system in many SUVs.

The system monitors traction up to 100 times per second and delivers drive to the rear wheels as required.

All this happens in a fraction of a second and it can also direct drive to whichever rear wheel needs it most.

Drilling through set up, we found sport mode can be customised in terms of steering, all-wheel drive and the adaptive cruise — though what it does to the latter we’re not sure.

With a low centre of gravity the car hugs the road.

The ride is firmish and the gear changes smooth, but the Continental tyres though providing plenty of grip are a little noisy.

In fact, it’s not we’d describe as quiet inside.

We chalked up just over 800km in the Calais V at a rate of 9.3L/100km.

The V6 by the way can tow up to 2100kg.

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What we like?

  • Low slung looks
  • V6 power
  • All wheel drive
  • Comfortable and well appointed
  • Rear air vents
  • Good fuel economy
  • Head up display visible with polarised sunglasses

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What we don’t like?

  • Not much
  • Too much tyre noise
  • Lane departure warnings annoying
  • Auto braking cuts it pretty fine

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The bottom line?

Forget for a minute that it’s not really a Commodore, not as we know it. As a sporty, four-door Euro coupe it stacks up pretty well. Support it, or it too will soon disappear.

CHECKOUT: Where’s the Calais we know and love?

CHECKOUT: Commodore needs some wow power


Holden Commodore Calais V, priced from $51,990
  • Looks - 8/10
  • Performance - 7.5/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 7.5/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 7.5/10
  • Tech - 8/10
  • Value - 8/10

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