Let’s get two things sorted straight off the bat, firstly, this isn’t anything at all like any Holden Commodore we’ve seen so far, secondly, this is without question the best car yet to wear a Holden badge.
Those points will be hard to take for the Aussie engineers and workers who built the car for 40 years on home soil, but it’s true.
It’s also a bitter pill to swallow for Holden fans and traditional Commodore buyers, because in terms of driving dynamics, refinement and safety, the new-generation fully-imported Commodore wins hands down.
The European designers who penned this design had to please car buyers in many different markets, even on different continents, and I have to say they’ve generally got it spot on.
I’m not a huge fan of the front styling, I’m certainly not in love with the crease that runs down the centre of the bonnet. But I do like the side profile, and the rear – full marks here as far as I’m concerned.
Despite the external dimensions being smaller than the superseded Holden Commodore the designers have managed to maintain similar internal dimensions – the only areas where there is a noticeable difference is in the width of the cabin.
The legroom front and back though is huge! Put the passenger seat right back and an average-sized adult male (me) can’t reach the firewall…even with toes pointed forward.
Legroom in the rear is also very impressive, especially when you take into account that the Commodore is now officially categorized as a mid-size car, not a large car.
The interior is generally a well thought-out place, though there are a couple of things that miss the mark a little.
These issues include the placement of the door grab handles (front and rear) – there is no way you can place your arm on the arm rest and your hand in the handle (unless your arms are the same size as a ten year old’s!).
A clue that this car was designed firstly for left-hand drive markets – the parking brake control button is on the left-hand side of the console.
I was disappointed to see that the transmission selector surround is similar to the now retired Holden Malibu. As the picture below shows, the chrome surround reflects sunlight directly up into your face and eyes.
The glove box falls onto your legs (i.e. you can’t open it fully when seated in the passenger seat), and the centre console bin is small.
Inside that centre bin is an inductive charging slot that worked perfectly with a colleague’s smaller iPhone, my iPhone 8 Plus didn’t fit.
You could also say that the new car has smallish sun visors that when turned to the side position don’t give complete coverage back to the B pillar.
Speaking of the B pillars, the seat-belts are not height adjustable, that’s not too much of an issue with the height adjustable driver’s seat, however some variants, including the Calais, don’t get a height adjustable passenger’s seat.
Holden’s new Commodore has good-sized door pockets and there’s a USB slot in the centre console for front seat passengers and two in the rear.
Holden has done a great job ensuring the new Commodore isn’t to be outdone in this regard.
There’s a hefty line-up of different variants available ranging from the base-model LT to the VXR.
Standard kit in the entry-level Commodore LT includes:
- Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- Autonomous Emergency Braking
- 17″ alloy wheels
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Push-button ignition
- Front and rear parking sensors
- LED Taillights
That top grade model (the VXR) getting the proverbial kitchen sink thrown at it with:
- Heated and ventilated front seats
- Heated rear seats
- Massaging driver’s seat
- Leather-appointed seats
- 20″ alloy wheels
- 360 degree camera
- Head-up display
- Adaptive cruise control
Drive and Engine
Just like back in 1978 when the Holden Commodore replaced the Kingswood the model has a four-cylinder engine under the bonnet.
This time though the engine, which produces 191kW/356Nm is turned 90 degrees and drives the front wheels.
There’s also a 235kW/381Nm V6 engine available too, it’s bolted exclusively to an all-wheel drive powertrain.
And the same 125kW/400Nm turbo-diesel engine that comes in the new Holden Equinox also features in the Commodore range.
At the Australian launch Holden had four-cylinder petrol and V6 powered variants available to sample and while the all-wheel drive is a handy feature to have, for most driving applications the four-cylinder is the pick.
Bolted to a nine-speed auto, what I thought might be one of the weak points of the new Commodore turned out to be a positive.
The V6 is decent-enough goer and has longer legs than the four, but it wouldn’t be getting my business, especially when the fuel consumption figures are factored in.
Holden also scored plenty of points with me for having a Euro-tune Commodore (i.e. Opel Insignia) available to test drive…it was horrible.
The Holden engineers agreed and that’s why they set about to tune and improve the Commodore for local roads and the difference was chalk and cheese.
The Euro car wallowed over bumps, had heavier and more wooden steering and was nothing like the much tighter and more confidence inspiring Australian tune.
The Aussie car also gets lighter steering and that seems to work better in this application.
The new Holden Commodore comes with a full five-star ANCAP safety rating and includes six airbags as standard, AEB, and two rear ISOFIX anchors.’
For the record, 2018 Holden Commodore towing capacities are 2,100kg for the V6 and 1,800kg for the four-cylinder petrol and diesel.
- Sophisticated look and feel
- Standard features
- Four-cylinder petrol engine
- Availability of all-wheel drive (V6)
- Good selection of different variants
- Front and rear legroom
Not So Good Bits
- Interior design/feel is average
- Rear headroom (hatch variants)
As already stated Holden has its best ever car now available to Australian car buyers. I have no doubt that if you can see past the controversial topics – i.e. it’s not Australian made and there’s no V8, you might just like it.
Ironically, despite being a much better vehicle than the Commodore it replaces, the new car has the exact same challenge to meet – wooing Australian families who just aren’t buy sedans (or in this case a five-door hatch) or wagons in 2018.
A great addition to the mid-size car market, we can’t wait to see how the Australian car buying public responds to this sophisticated and generally very impressive new offering.
Facts and Figures: 2018 Holden Commodore
- Engines: 2.0 litre turbo-petrol producing 191kW/356Nm, 2.0 litre turbo-diesel producing 125kW/400Nm, or 3.5 litre V6 producing 235kW/381Nm
- Transmissions: Nine-speed auto (petrol engines), eight-speed auto (diesel)
- Safety: Five stars
- Warranty: 3yrs/100,000km
- Origin: Germany
- Price: from $33,690