Holden VF Commodore Sportwagon and Ute

20 February 2013
, CarsGuide

Holden has released pictures of the cargo-carrying versions of the VF Commodore range – and we can now see why Holden hid them for a week or so after the much-hyped sedan launch. They don’t get as much of a makeover as the sedan.

Contrary to widespread misguided speculation, the VF Commodore wagon and ute do not get a new rear-end appearance; they’re the same as before. In fact, from behind, it will be almost impossible to distinguish the new models from the old ones.

Even the badges are the same as before, with Holden electing not to adopt the new, sleeker “SS” logo fitted to the Chevrolet export models.

The tail-lights and rear bumpers on the VF Commodore wagon and ute are the same as the previous model because Holden couldn’t justify the significant investment in new ones.

Wagon and ute sales have dropped by more than half in the past 10 years (from 17,000 ute sales in 2003 to 7900 in 2012).

An insider has revealed that new tail-lights for each model would cost up to $1 million per set to redesign, retool and retest for Australian regulations, bringing the bill to $2 million dollars before adding the cost of new rear bumper moulds.

Another contributing factor: Holden’s decision to design unique rear lights for the wagon and the ute for the first time ever on the VE Commodore – since the VN Commodore of 1990, all Commodore wagons and utes had shared the same rear lamps.

Had the wagon and ute shared the exact same part at VE, perhaps Holden could have justified the investment in one new set. But the VE Commodore range was designed in the late 1990s and early 2000s, during the Commodore’s sales peaks and when the car could do no wrong.

But there is some good news. Although only the eagle-eyed might notice, the photos show the SS-V ute gets factory-fit rear parking sensors for the first time. And the appearance of Brembo front brakes indicates there will be an SS-V Redline edition in the VF Commodore range.

Other information that’s come to light:

- a rear view camera is likely to be standard on most ute models for the first time (it wasn’t even an option on VE);
- the ute will miss out on the Bose sound system, even on the high grade models;
- all VF Commodore models will come with seven airbags (now that a driver’s knee airbag has been added);
- all SS Commodore models get the same 6.0-litre V8 as before (not the 6.2 LS3 V8 fitted to export models, the same distinction was made between the Pontiac G8 GXP and the SS in 2009).

Holden used the release of ute and wagon pictures to talk about some of the testing it has done with the VF Commodore range.

The media statement said Holden engineers will conduct more than 1.4 million kilometres of local and overseas validation testing – including Sweden, North America and the Middle East – before the first VF Commodore reaches Holden showrooms, including 350,000km of “customer verification” testing of early production models by Holden employees in the coming months.

Translated: if you live in Melbourne you might see dozens of VF Commodores on the road before they’re in showrooms in June.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling