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Holden Berlina 2011 Review

According to Hinchliffe, the wagon is still breathing.

YOU wake up one morning and suddenly the world's a different place. When you try to go back to bed your wife has taken all the sheets out to wash and you're left there, standing alone in a strange new world. That's pretty much me each week but increasingly it's new car buyers who walk back into the vehicle market to find that everything has changed and they're lost.

The station wagon that took the children on holidays and taught them to drive is almost extinct. Now it's SUVs (whatever!) and hatchbacks, crossovers (dressers?) and MPVs. But despite the newcomers and the demise almost a year ago of the Falcon wagon, there's comfort in the Holden Sportwagon that will appease the traditionalists.


The Berlina Sportwagon costs $45,490 plus on-road costs and extra for things like a spare wheel - whoa, was that the noise of you falling off your chair? Yes, it's all changed. It's a fair price for what you get - the equipment level is subtle but sufficient - but the Europeans, particularly VW and Skoda, are offering more bling.


Even though you clearly have been sitting on your hands while the world changed, Holden hasn't. The engine range includes the Berlina's 3-litre direct petrol injection V6 with an adequate 190kW/290Nm running through a six-speed automatic with the ability of the cogs to be manually changed.

The engine is smaller than  before but just as powerful, lighter on petrol and can run quite happily on E85, an 85 per cent blend of sustainable oil from crop waste and 15 per cent petrol.


The Sportwagon shares all the VE sedan's muscular torso features and adds a racy tail profile with narrowed side glass. It is smaller in length (by 136mm) and cargo space than its VZ wagon predecessor but the available room is excellent, the rear seats fold dead flat and the hatch is top-hinged so reduces swing length when opening.

Better ergonomics inside and the latest touch-screen controller for most major functions is very welcome - but the buttons are small - though plastic fit isn't great.


Any V6 is inherently imbalanced both in the odd pulsing of the exhaust and the awkward throw-weight of the three-a-side pistons. The Holden V6 doesn't disappoint with the 3-litre - like its 3.6-litre sister - being harsh in feel and noise when pressed. It settles nicely when cruising but the impression isn't great.

The 3-litre is as enjoyable as the 3.6, with sufficient zing to get it away from the lights. Most of that is due to the six-speed auto that closes up the ratio gaps. The box also helps economy with the 11.2 litres/100km coming mainly from suburban driving.

Handling is pretty good for such a big - relatively - car. The steering bites in nicely and there's always the sense that the wagon is confident. The ride is quiet and cushy with the Berlina seats notably streets ahead in comfort compared with the Omega model.

It certainly is a wagon that could swing you back from alternative SUVs.


Dual-zone climate airconditioning
6-speaker CD/iPod/USB audio
6 airbags
Rear park sensor
Trip computer.


Origin: Australia
Price: $45,490
Engine: 3-litre, V6
Power: 190kW @ 6700rpm
Torque: 290Nm @ 2900rpm
Fuel: Standard unleaded/E85
Fuel tank: 71 litres
Economy (official): 9.2 litres/100km
Economy (tested): 11.2 litres/100km
Greenhouse: 220g/km (Corolla: 174g/km)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, sequential; rear-drive
Brakes: 4-wheel discs, ESC, ABS, EBD, brake assist
Turning circle: 11.4m
Suspension: MacPherson struts (front), multi-link, coils (rear)
Wheels: 17-inch alloy, 225/55R17 tyres; aerosol kit
Dimensions: 4897mm (l), 1899mm (w), 1476mm (h)
Wheelbase: 2915mm
Weight: 1770kg
Tow (max): 1600kg
Boot (seat up/down): 895/2000 litres (Corolla: 450/1121)
Warranty: 3yr/100,000km, roadside assist
Service: 15,000km

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Neil Dowling
Contributing Journalist


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