When Holden launched the Sportwagon in 2008 it didn't include an LPG powered model. The engineers were still working out where they could put the gas storage tank whether it would mean relocating the spare wheel.
Guess they ran out of options because the spare is still sitting bang smack in the middle of the boot - correction, to one side of the boot. It's disappointing but that's the price your pay for economy.
PRICE AND EQUIPMENT
Priced from $44,490, the Sportwagon LPG is a good looking bus, even in spartan Omega clothes. The Series II model includes dual zone climate control and a colour touch-screen Holden-iQ system with single CD player, USB input, auxiliary input, integrated iPod support and enhanced Bluetooth with phone book display, touch-screen dialling and audio streaming.
Unlike the Falcon, Holden has opted for a vapour injection system which it argues is the better option. The heart of the system is the 3.6-litre V6 that has been optomised to run solely on LPG.
Producing 180kW of power and 320Nm it produces slightly more power and torque than the old dual fuel system. Yet the new LPG Commodore uses 1.6 litres/100km or 13 percent less fuel than before at a rate of 12.3 litres/100km. With an 84 litre tank it has a theoretical range of 686km but some of this gas will remain inaccessible.
The standard 3.6-litre V6 produces 210kW of power and 350Nm of torque and is rated at 9.9 litres/100km. The 3.0-litre six in comparison produces 190kW and 290Nm and is good for just 9.2 litres/100km.
No comparison would be complete without a reference to Ford's liquid injection system, a system it claims is superior. It's 4.0-litre six delivers 198kW of power and 409Nm of torque and uses 12.3 litres/100km (the same figure as Holden). Bear in mind however that you can no longer get a Falcon wagon.
The LPG wagon is $2500 more, but private buyers of new factory-fitted LPG vehicles can apply for a $2000 Federal Government rebate. With only $500 difference in price, it means you'd have to travel only 10,000km before recouping the extra money and the system would start paying for itself.
At the time of writing the price of petrol was $121.9 and LPG 57.9 cents a litre. The cost of filling the gas tank at this price would be $48.87.
HOW'S IT GO?
Okay. Not as good as the Ford and lacks the urgency of the petrol engine but the performance is acceptable. In terms of the car itself, having the window switches between the seats is annoying and the exterior mirrors are still too small. We were getting 11.7 litres/100/km after about 500km. If you're not demanding and looking for cheap, practical transport, then the LPG wagon could be the one.
Holden VE Commodore Sportwagon LPG
Price: from $44,490
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited km and 1 year roadside
Crash rating: 5-star ANCAP
Engine: 3.6-litre turbo 6-cyl, 180kW/320Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto, RWD
Dimensions: 4905mm (L), 1899mm (W), 1479m (H)
Thirst: 12.3L/100km, 198g/km CO2
Price: from $38,990
Engine: 2-litre, 4-cyl turbo-diesel, 103kW/320Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto, FWD
Thirst: 6.1L/100km, CO2 161g/km
Ford Falcon XT EcoLPi
Price: from $39,235
Engine: 198kW/409Nm 4-litre 6-cyl LPG
Transmission: 6-speed auto
Thirst: 12.5L/100km, CO2 203g/km
Toyota Camry Hybrid
Price: from $36,990
Engine: 2.4-litre, 4-cyl petrol/electric motor, 110kW/187Nm
Transmission: CVT, FWD
Thirst: 6.0L/100km, CO2 142g/km