New Holden Commodore: Aussie's most high-tech car

By Patrick Caruana

Holden Calais VF. Photo / Supplied
Holden Calais VF. Photo / Supplied

Holden's new VF Commodore seems to have taken the beloved Aussie car from football and meat pies to ballet and caviar.

Holden has finally parted the curtain on the VF, seven tumultuous years after it released the previous VE, during which time the Commodore has arguably lost its crown as the country's ubiquitous family car amid a period of decline for large cars more generally.

The result is what Holden calls a more "grown-up" car, aimed at a slightly higher end of the market.

But Holden general manager Mike Devereux says the Commodore hasn't lost its common touch.

"I think average Aussie families are demanding more than ever from the cars that they drive," he said.

"I want to over-achieve on their expectations on what a family car is in this country.

"I want to blow them away with levels of refinement, technology and refinement that they have never seen before."

The veil has only been lifted on the top-of-the-line Calais V model, and Holden is yet to release details - including pricing - on the entire range.

With a touch of the theatrical, Devereux describes the Calais V as "the most technologically-advanced car ever created in Australia". But the car makes a strong claim for that title.

It boasts an impressive array of gadgets - Auto Park Assist for both 90-degree and parallel spaces, forward collision alert, lane departure warnings, and a Head-Up Display that projects the car's speed information directly onto the windscreen.

An electronic park brake is one of many points of an interior makeover.

The centrepoint of the dashboard is now an eight-inch touch screen display featuring Holden's MyLink system, which includes a DVD player and app integration.

The trim features bold chrome highlights, dark woodgrain and soft leather.

From the outside, the VF model Calais V appears more muscular than its predecessor.

The front grille has been lowered, elongated and comes with chrome highlights, the centre of the bonnet has been creased, the nose seems more pointed and there has been a reduction in curves across the front end.

The car looks a little punchier, but the classic Commodore shape is retained.

The VF will come in three new colours - a stark orange shade called Fantale, a deep, dark green known as Regal Peacock, and a cool, silvery-grey called Prussian Steel.

Despite suggestions to the contrary, Devereux promises the VF will not be the final Commodore.

He confirmed to journalists last week that once production on the VF ceases in late 2016, the company would install architecture at its Adelaide plant for another Commodore.

Devereux acknowledges the car can probably never reach the sales peak of 15 years ago, but says it will continue to have an important role to play as Holden's flagship.

"I think the Commodore has accounted for more than half of that market for a long time," he says.

"It's not a massive segment in Australia but our intention is to still dominate that market.

But with the car's rear-wheel-drive system making it somewhat unique among the General Motors stable and a desire for that company's cars to become more universal, the Commodore of the "kangaroos, meat pies, football" days could be a thing of the past.


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