Holden Commodore Hybrid 2007 Review
LPG has long been the choice of taxi operators and fleet owners, who steer clear of costly petrol.
Ford has led the way with LPG in Australia and is the only company to offer a car that runs on gas alone.
Holden joined the party in 2005 when it offered its VZ Commodore with dual-fuel, which means the car can run on petrol or LPG.
The dual-fuel option has been made available for the VE range, including Omega, V-Series, Berlina, and current wagon and ute.
It costs a hefty $3900 to choose the Holden LPG option. The sting of the extra cost is eased by the Federal Government's LPG grant of $2000, trimming it back to $1900.
Ford offers the LPG option on its Falcon range for $1400, which is reduced to $400 when you factor in the government grant of $1000.
The Commodore gets the full $2000 grant because Holden has its accessory supplier HSV to do the LPG work in Clayton and it is considered a conversion.
Ford prepares its LPG cars in the factory at Campbellfield, so it is not considered a conversion and gets the lesser grant.
A BASE Commodore Omega fleet machine fitted with the dual-fuel system and airconditioning (a $2000 option) costs $38,390 with the government grant.
A dual-fuel Commodore V-Series (airconditioning standard) costs $36,890, with the grant.
The Ford LPG system (157kW and 383Nm) uses older technology that pre-mixes the gas with air for combustion. The newer Holden system injects the gas straight into the engine, just as it would do with petrol. That means it has more punch when it is running on gas — 175kW and 325Nm.
That is only slightly down on the 180kW/330Nm the engine puts out when it is running on petrol.
The Holden system has a 73-litre LPG tank in the boot, behind the rear seats, which adds about 100kg to the Commodore.
Holden engineers have adjusted the rear suspension accordingly, adding firmer springs to counter the extra weight.
The tank reduces boot space 100 litres to 396 litres.
The upside is that using the petrol and LPG tanks means you have a range of more than 1000km, but most people will run only on LPG.
Holden's official fuel-economy figure for the Commodore when running on gas is 16 litres for 100km and 11.7 litres for 100km when running on petrol (0.8 litres/100km more than the petrol-only model).
Though the LPG option is available across a range of models, the most popular candidate is the base Omega, a fleet favourite, and the V-Series for families.
ON THE ROAD
THE Federal Government's LPG rebate has widened the appeal of cars like the dual-fuel VE Commodore.
Without the $2000 grant, it could take three or four years to save enough money to cover the initial cost of the system.
But with the grant, the VE Commodore dual-fuel system could pay for itself within 18 months if the driver covers 20,000km a year.
It is still more expensive than the Falcon LPG option, which, on our figures, could pay for itself in five months, allowing for the LPG grant.
The Commodore Omega dual-fuel feels much the same to drive as the regular model.
It doesn't go quite as fast — mainly because of the extra 100kg of LPG tank weight.
The LPG tank level indicator sits on the dashboard just in front of the transmission. It looks a bit "aftermarket" and shows the tank level in green lights.
THE car doesn't show fuel economy figures or a distance-to-empty calculation for either gas or petrol, which is a pain.
The dual-fuel system starts on petrol and automatically switches back to petrol.
Sometimes the test car beeps until you manually change over to petrol, which you can do on the move.
It happens a few times during the test — at idle with the airconditioning on and after hard acceleration.
Other glitches with the test car include another beep and a display on the dashboard suggesting the stability control system has flicked when it clearly hasn't — usually the type of thing a mechanic can fix at the next service.
Boot space is reduced, but there is enough room for most items.
The LPG tank is in the way of the ski port in the middle rear seat, so you can forget carrying long items.
More disappointing is the engine/transmission noise in the test car.
To me, it sounds like a loud automatic-related (unlocked torque converter) slurring when the engine is under heavy load, but many customers will just notice it is noisy.
The dual-fuel conversion should not affect engine noise, but this car sounds louder than other Commodores we have tested.
The four-speed auto is fairly crude with its changes.
As part of the test, we drive a BF-dedicated LPG Falcon, which is quieter and smoother.
The dual-fuel Commodore has the potential to save you a lot of money.
But if you don't need to have a Holden, look at the LPG Falcon, which might use older technology but costs less and is quieter.
Range and Specs
|Acclaim||3.6L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO||$2,980 – 5,999||2006 Holden Commodore 2006 Acclaim Pricing and Specs|
|Berlina||3.6L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO||$2,985 – 9,990||2006 Holden Commodore 2006 Berlina Pricing and Specs|
|Berlina Dual Fuel||3.6L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO||$5,830 – 8,250||2006 Holden Commodore 2006 Berlina Dual Fuel Pricing and Specs|
|Executive||3.6L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO||$999 – 6,999||2006 Holden Commodore 2006 Executive Pricing and Specs|