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Holden Monaro VZ 2006 review

By no means perfect, this Aussie auto icon had plenty of good traits to outweigh the bad.

An attractive beast, the Monaro had major surgery toward the end, opening up the nostrils to breathe life into its export sales.

The operation changed the looks but the surgeons also made some life-altering changes underneath. The twin-pipe exhaust system allowed changes to the fuel tank's location which gave the Monaro some voice in its latter years. Although it came at the expense of cargo capacity, no one could deny the sports coupe's need to bellow a bit louder.

2006 Holden Monaro

Explore the 2006 Holden Monaro range

Ever since the Monaro was resurrected by Holden, it had been anything but short on grunt ... it just didn't sound quite right.

From the rear, the twin-pipes complete the look of the Monaro and a blip of the throttle at the traffic lights – pure indulgence – is followed by a crackle on over-run, before settling into a slightly lumpy idle.

Not the cradle-rocking of a 1960s bent-eight, but enough to hint at the potential lurking beneath the dual-nostrilled bonnet.

The Gen III 5.7-litre V8 is now generating 260kW and 500Nm in its liberated form, which is more than capable of propelling the 1692kg Monaro from standstill to the state limit in double-quick time. While Holden won't brag about performance times, around six seconds for a sprint to 100km/h is not beyond the scope of this beast.

Anyone looking for coupe styling, comfortable seating for four and V8 performance of this magnitude will need to opt for German-sourced vehicles with six-figure price tags, unless Holden get the go-ahead to make another one on the VE platform.

The passing of this six-speed manual gearbox may not be mourned to the same degree as the rest of the car – it has been criticised in the past for a narrow gate and a vague shift-action.

The test car's gearbox is certainly better than in the first incarnation of the modern Monaro, but it remains a gearbox that requires gear changes with serious intent, not just wrist flicks.

Even if you do grab the wrong ratio, it matters not with 500Nm on offer.

Sweeping through the hills south-east of Adelaide allows the Monaro to show its stuff, pointing sharply (for a big car) into corners and maintaining lines reasonably well, despite rippled road surfaces. Tighter corner exits can be completed with a number of different methods – smooth and fast using the ample torque, faster and noisier using a lower gear or rougher and noisier again with the tail out ... it's your choice.

Sweeping bends require little adjustment at open road cruising speeds; the coupe shifts its weight slightly, before settling into the curve and continuing on undisturbed.

The brakes barely need to be brushed before a corner unless the pace is considerable, but thankfully they are the biggest stoppers yet fitted to a Holden and haul the beast to a standstill without fuss. Steering the large coupe can become something of a chore around town, with efforts slightly greater than expected.

The ride reflects the suspension's aptitude in corners, being firm on the rear but most of the road shocks are within reasonable tolerance levels.

The Monaro does accompany the serious pace with a corresponding appetite for unleaded, slurping an average of around 20 litres per 100km according to the trip computer during the early stages, while the novelty of the exhaust note was fresh in the mind.

But a more rounded driving experience – some freeway, country road and less exuberant driving – saw the average drop to just over 16 litres per 100km used from the 70-litre tank.

Still not great, but sacrifices have to be made for the benefits of driving a V8 coupe.

The cabin is a comfortable place to spend some time, with leather-trimmed seating for four, keeping occupants supported, snug and well-located. A beefy sound system, climate control and extra gauges are among the cabin highlights, as well as the digital section of the instruments.

The addition of a speed read-out in large numerals, to work in concert with the traditional dial, helps keep the driver well informed about the size of the fines that may be received – it is a difficult task to keep to the speed limit and time will tell if I have succeeded. Where Holden has succeeded is in providing an entertaining high-performance coupe for V8-loving drivers.

It will be missed.

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Range and Specs

CV8 5.7L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $19,690 – 24,970 2006 Holden Monaro 2006 CV8 Pricing and Specs
CV8-Z 5.7L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $17,490 – 22,110 2006 Holden Monaro 2006 CV8-Z Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


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