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Holden Monaro CV8-R 2004 review

The new 260kW Monaro uses the same scoops added to the version of the car sold in the US (as a Pontiac GTO) to cater for more overt American tastes.

The US influence doesn't stop there. The Monaro also gains the same GTO twin exhaust system and relocated fuel tank, which reduces the boot from 370 litres to 245 litres.

Holden says the reason for choosing the scooped bonnet was partly because it was easier and cheaper to produce one the same shape as the GTO's, but primarily because Australian customers liked it.

Holden's chairman, American Denny Mooney, says Holden sales and marketing manager Ross McKenzie wanted the scoops and some members of the Holden team conducted research to prove him wrong.

The results showed most people loved the new bonnet.

"It wasn't my decision," Mooney says. "This is the voice of the Aussie customers."

The Monaro is $550 more than the current car and costs $60,490 as an automatic or manual. The 5.7-litre GEN III V8 stays, but has another 15kW of power for 260kW with 35Nm more torque for 500Nm.

The improvements have been made with a more effective induction system and camshaft modifications, meaning the engine is meatier through a wider range of revs.

The same modifications were made to the GTO in the US.

Holden says the more powerful GEN IV engine, from the new Chevrolet Corvette, won't be available for Monaro in the short term.

The Monaro is still available with a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

The manual has shorter gear ratios and the automatic is the same unit as used in the HSV models, which can handle the extra torque.

All Monaros come with new performance brakes that feature large twin-pot front calipers (with Monaro branding) and large-diameter 320mm front discs and 286mm rear discs hooked up to an anti-skid system.

The Monaro's tail is dominated by twin-flow exhausts that reduce back flow to the engine for better performance.

Holden chief engineer Tony Hyde says fitting the twin exhaust system was worth the reduction in boot space.

"We will probably cop some flak over it but people can open the boot, look at it and buy it if they like it," he says.

On the road

NO ONE will be able to miss a Monaro on the road because of the two nostrils on the bonnet.

The updated front styling, new alloy wheels and large twin exhaust pipes show Holden is giving the Monaro more bark to match its V8 bite.

It still has the elegant, sleek coupe tail fans love, and Holden has not followed Pontiac, which fits all GTOs with boot-lid spoilers.

Monaro has always offered a great fun drive with comfortable seating for four.

The comfort level is the same, but the driving experience is better.

The engine performance figures look good on paper, but drivers will notice them more in the real world.

Engineers have improved the launch feel, which means you feel it every time you accelerate.

The engine is fantastic to work hard with the six-speed manual and you will also want to wind down the window to hear the V8 burble from the exhausts.

The four-speed automatic does the job, but not that well, and is missing the manual-shift mode you expect with an auto fitted to a $60,000 sports car.

It's hard to find fault with the rest of the car, which impresses with its powerful brakes, firm and direct steering and supportive seats.

The Monaro at 1692kg is 50kg heavier than the previous model, but is still nimble. A blast around a wet skid pan at Holden's Lang Lang proving ground showed the car can easily spin around witches' hats (with a quick handbrake grab).

It is a comfortable cruiser that can easily eat the highway kilometres.

The reduced boot space could affect buyers who use their Monaros to carry four people and a fair amount of luggage.

But many will be happy to make the sacrifice for the twin exhausts.

There is a lot of US influence in the Monaro, but it is a better car and that is what it is all about.

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CV8 5.7L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $21,950 – 40,000 2004 Holden Monaro 2004 CV8 Pricing and Specs
CV8-R 5.7L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $14,190 – 18,700 2004 Holden Monaro 2004 CV8-R Pricing and Specs
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