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Holden Monaro VZ 2004 review

From thumbs up to cheers of delight and bowing on the side of the road, the Monaro got a big reception.

Sporting the unmistakable twin nostrils and "look-at-me" CV 805 number plates, there was no chance of laying low.

A stop at Lithgow McDonald's on the Bathurst race weekend, probably the only weekend of the year when the queue is out the door, led to a frenzy.

It was as if a movie star had entered. The pointing fingers and curious looks were followed by a quick dual-pipe check.

There were many testosterone-charged attempts by other motorists to prove their car was more beefy than this new Monaro.

But the Monaro was content cruising.

Opening the bonnet and boot and starting it up so enthusiasts could check out the new model got tiring.

Turning the key was extremely popular, as fans wanted to hear the new "burble" produced by the dual pipes, which is noticeably deeper and more pronounced than the previous model. And, when backing off, the Monaro is a wondrous mix of popping and crackling.

But it was not all good news.

Current Monaro owners were united in their opinions of the reduced boot space. They didn't like it.

"That is ridiculous. I was really looking forward to the new model but I would definitely not buy one, that boot space is just too small," one remarked at a service station.

The smaller boot is due to the relocated fuel tank, which makes way for the dual pipes.

It seemed odd that buyers of a sports coupe (not a family wagon) would not buy the new model because of boot space.

Feedback on the exterior had been mixed – most saying they did not like the new nostrils. But for the past two weeks the vibe on the streets was unanimous – they're hot.

Holden has upped the ante on the VZ – power increases to 260kW and torque is up to 500Nm. Both can be felt under foot and are helped by the electric throttle.

Gone is the intrusive (and painful) traction control system that shot the accelerator pedal back at you when traction was lost, causing a sharp twang in the shin.

The clutch is a little heavy but more user-friendly than the earlier model.

As expected, the automatic and the manual models feel different but an interesting point was fuel consumption.

The auto was content to sit at around 1600rpm in most situations, while the manual provokes the driver to rev out gear changes.

The auto's average fuel consumption (according to the on-board computer) hovered between 13 litres and 14.8 litres/100km. In the manual this figure stayed above 17L/100km.

The increased braking package boasts 320mm ventilated front discs, 286mm rear discs, ABS, brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution. It all means the Monaro stops with minimal pedal pressure.

Comfort levels are good, the electric adjustable seats making light work of finding a comfortable drive position.

The height- and reach-adjustable steering wheel is a big bonus, as is the time delay on the power windows – you can still put them up after the car is switched off.

In the recent rain, the speed sensitive wipers were great. In stop-start traffic, they switched automatically to intermittent mode and then sped up as your speed increased.

It has taken two weeks, but ducking low when getting in to avoid hitting my head is finally a reflex-like action.

Despite the smallish boot the Monaro does have a centre console (with phone charge socket), a large glovebox and side pockets in the doors to store stuff in.

The dash-mounted cup holders don't inspire confidence with big drinks as they tend to wobble around a bit.

With its new look, increased power, torque and brake package but mere price increase of $500, the new VZ Monaro is sure to win buyers.

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CV8 5.7L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $15,999 – 32,000 2004 Holden Monaro 2004 CV8 Pricing and Specs
CV8-R 5.7L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $14,410 – 18,920 2004 Holden Monaro 2004 CV8-R Pricing and Specs
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