Carl bought this Holden Commodore new with extra options for $37,600 (including all on-road costs). Carl would buy this car again because: “Absolutely. It’s been a great car and I’m glad I bought one when I had the chance. At the time I test drove an FGX XR6 that offered a great drivetrain.” was, but it was clear that Ford had given up on the car’s interior a long time ago.
Once I settled on VF, the conversation with the salesman went like this:
Me: I want SV6 in manual, can I test drive?
Salesman: No, none available for test drive, but we have an auto.
Me: Can you get the manual from another dealer for me to test drive?
Salesman: No, I meant there are no manual V6s to test drive in Victoria. If you want one, you just have to order it.
So I signed on the dotted line. In the past it was a very good value (perhaps too good considering the closure of local car manufacturing). Buying the manual was the best $2200 I’ve ever saved because manual resale values are better than autos.
Reliability has been good over the past seven years and 120,000km, although there have been some issues. The biggest problem I had was a small knock at low revs that developed at the 110k mark. It turned out to be a sway bar link pin that was replaced by a local mechanic.
There was some unusual wear on the driver’s side interior door panel, and paint peeling on the edge of the bonnet, both of which were fixed before the five-year warranty expired. I also replaced one headlight globe (well, two globes if we include the encounter with a kangaroo that claimed the headlight).
Over the years there were a few memories that were made at the service. This car has seen more rough roads than many Land Cruisers but I didn’t experience any rattles or squeaks.
It’s still on the original battery and brake pads (yes, they were recently checked by a mechanic). I am very happy with it!
Overall, I am very happy with it as it has brought something unique to the market. The combination of big, well-tuned dynamics with RWD and manual in an affordable package makes it hard to replace. I wanted something that would be fun to drive and carry (more on that later), while also having decent fuel consumption on the long commute to work.
Since I have a car, my commute has been 150km from the cross-Melbourne peak hour grind (mostly why I didn’t buy a V8) to regional Victoria, and now working from home is very awkward. . Short trip to the office.
Economy is very reasonable for size and performance. It benefited from VF’s weight saving program which includes aluminum bonnet, boot, suspension components. The turning circle is quite good for a large car.
The seats are very comfortable on long journeys. Passengers often do a double take when they see the self-shifter in the center console. A major gripe with the car is the flimsy exterior due to the large A-pillars. This is made worse by the small mirror. So much so, that I’ve been weary of approaching VE/VF Commodores if I suspect my car is obscured by their A-pillars.
The position of the cup holders was clearly designed for the 95 percent of people who bought an auto. Any drinks in the center console result in an awkward elbow-up maneuver to change gears. It has an electric handbrake that generally works well, rollback prevention is a bit more intrusive.
Being a Commodore, servicing is cheap.
I paid $37,600 on-road (RRP was around $36k) with a black rear spoiler and tow bar. A search of the vehicle inventory revealed that the spec I ordered was sitting in a manufacturing plant in Adelaide. Delivery took about three weeks. The car came to the dealer with five years of capped price servicing for $170 for a minor service which was reasonable.
I also suspect that having a regular face in the service department makes it much easier at warranty claim time.
It is well-equipped including sports seats, self-parking, and dual-zone climate. Disappointingly, opting for manual eliminates the remote start feature that would come in handy on those cold mornings. I should have ticked the box for the sunroof too.
This was partly because I didn’t expect to keep the car until I had difficulty finding a replacement.
Yes it was a very good value at the time and well equipped. I paid $37,600 on the road with a black rear spoiler and tow bar (RRP was around 36k). I really like the interior which was updated and improved a lot in VF. It is well equipped including sports seats and self parking and dual zone climate.
It has automatic parking that will move itself into a car space, but you need to operate the accelerator/brake/clutch whenever prompted. It aligns the car very well in the car space but it’s slow, I’ve used it barely a dozen times in seven years.
The only disappointing thing is that by getting the manual, it deleted the remote start feature that would have come in handy on those cold mornings. I should have ticked the box for the sunroof too. The six-speaker sound system is decent for the price but I would have liked the option to upgrade.
The LFX 3.6L V6 is both overshadowed by the great-sounding V8, while also dealing with the legacy of earlier engines that liked to run on timing chains. Outputs are 210kW at 6700rpm and 350Nm, and performance on the road is quite ridiculous with some revs on board, the best performance being in the mid-rev range.
It is quite capable (peak torque is 2800rpm). Despite engine improvements over the years, it still doesn’t feel good. Very noisy injectors make themselves known in cold weather.
Long-term fuel consumption in mixed conditions is around 10.4L/100km (ADR 9.0L/100km) which I think is good considering the size and performance. I mostly use 95 RON. There is a small but noticeable improvement in economy and performance on the 98. Disappointingly, E85 compatibility was removed from the MY15 models.
I’m glad I took the plunge and bought the manual as it really improves the level of engagement with the car. The six-speed manual is gray and there are very clear gates between the gearshifts. The first gear ratio is short, while the other ratios are quite long meaning that the difference between the ratios is quite large.
It prefers fast, flowing country roads to hairpin turns. The clutch is also light in traffic, but should feel more linear.
The brakes are fine, not particularly good or bad, just efficient.
Despite some people’s insistence that a graded dirt road or towing anything requires a 4WD equipped with every possible bar job from ARB, I’ve seen box trailers, mid-size Has towed quite a bit with a caravan and even a small excavator.
I am constantly impressed with the pulling performance. Fuel economy sits at around 15-16l/100km with the 1.6-tonne Caravan. The excellent reverse camera makes hatching a breeze.
The SV6 was well equipped as it was second from the bottom of the range. Due to criticism of poor visibility in the VE, Holden added a number of driving aids to the VF.
The reverse camera is clear and high resolution, even compared to newer cars. The rear cross-traffic alert is great, especially when you’re pulling out of a park with two tall vehicles on each side. It will also detect pedestrians. It has blind spot alert which works well.
Occasionally the bluetooth drops out and the screen temporarily freezes 2-3 times.
Ride and handling are the real highlight of the car. It settles in quickly on bumps at high speeds and body roll is well controlled, while still offering reasonable compliance. The chassis feels well balanced and planted. Holden advertised the car as being close to 50-50 weight (due to the battery being in the boot).
The SV6 has the same suspension and tires as the V8-equipped models, making it clear that the chassis can handle more power than the V6 produces.
The stock tires were 18 inch Bridgestone Potenzas which were great, I managed about 70,000 km from the original set (running about 39 PSI). ESC allows a surprising amount of slip before intervening (…or so I’m told).
Brake feel is fine, not particularly good or bad, just efficient.
The SV6 certainly doesn’t command the attention or admiration of a car enthusiast. Well, it happened once that I met a colleague who looked at my car and said (non-ironically) “Wow, nice car!” But to be fair, I just gave him a description, and he doesn’t know anything about cars.
It contains the basic components of the driver’s vehicle. A great chassis that handles well, a naturally aspirated engine with plenty of power for fun, mated to a manual gearbox, driving the rear wheels – like God. It is intended.
The SV6 will always be overshadowed by the V8 variants, although on its own merits it is a great example of what Australian designed and built cars were all about. A solid all-rounder for both that’s fun to drive, but can tow without resorting to 4WD when needed.
I have considered updating the car, but it is difficult to replace. The most promising option in the future was a RWD Mazda 6 in a wagon that seems to have died out. Maybe a 3 series tour? Maybe I’ll go straight to EV one day? I’m not sure. In the meantime, I think I’ll hold on to the Commodore for a while.