Volkswagen Golf R 2016 review
Tim Robson road tests and reviews the Volkswagen Golf R with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
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The fate of the Holden Commodore – at least in its locally made guise – is as certain as death and taxes, and has been for some time.
But here's the thing – if you cover any kind of distance, and often have to carry two or more people, it's still a car worth your consideration.
It's helped that General Motors has been shipping handfuls of the Commodore to the US as a Chevrolet SS over the last few years, of course… and sentiment is an excellent motivator as well, it seems, as sales of V8-engined Commodores have been stronger than ever as the clock winds down.
The market has spoken and the umpire has called time on the concept of an Aussie-made sedan – but the Commodore, especially in SS-V Redline guise, will not go quietly into the night.
Even though it's not much different to the then-radical overhaul of the then-VE in 2006, the VFII Commodore is still a strong, handsome, beautifully proportioned sedan, with overtly muscular front guards, a high waist and heavily raked windscreen line.
In top-spec SS-V Redline form, it's also wearing a bodykit that wouldn't look out of place on an HSV – indeed, the large wing, deep side skirts and low front bar would have been outlandish on the HSV GTS only a few years ago.
It has some more subtle tweaks, as well. New lower aero ducts on the front bar suck air into and through the front wheel arch area and then ‘reattach' down the sides of the body when it exits the wheel arches.
The Commodore is still as practical and spacious as it's ever been.
There is also a pair of specially designed bonnet louvres that have been designed to expel hot air but not to suck external air back in.
A set of (optional) gloss black 20-inch rims, a pair of huge twin-exhaust outlets and a lowered stance sets an unmistakable tone for the SS-V, which is marginally undone by an excessive use of brightwork round the car.
Carrying four to five people cross country in comfort has long been the Commodore's raison d'être, and the SS-V Redline still fits the brief, with a large cabin, deep seats with wide bases and plenty of knee and shoulder room.
That deeply raked windscreen that gives the car such a sporting stance does have a drawback, though, allowing a lot of sun and light to stream into and down onto a centre console that's heavily decorated with very, very reflective surfaces.
It's actually necessary at times to drive with one hand blocking the glare bouncing up from the automatic gearshift surround.
Up front, Holden's MyLink multimedia system was one of the first to offer app accessibility and access via Pandora and the like, but it's never been the easiest to access or operate thanks to a plethora of controls and menus.
Elsewhere, the Commodore is still as practical and spacious as it's ever been, with two cupholders up front and two in the rear, as well as space for bottles in each of the four doors.
Holden has re-engineered the car to accept a pair of ISOFIX mounts on the outside rear seats, while there are three child seat tethers on the parcel shelf.
At $58,690 before on road costs for the automatic version, the SS-V is as well equipped as any Commodore that's gone before it.
It runs Holden's top-spec FE3 sports suspension as standard, along with Brembo brakes, paddle shifts for the six-speed auto, and a limited slip rear diff.
With a leather-appointed interior, powered and heated front seats, sunroof, 8.0-inch multimedia system, smart remote engine start, reverse traffic alert, dual-zone air, Bose audio, sat nav and auto lights and wipers, the SS-V Redline is well featured.
It misses out on items like rear USB ports, and AEB isn't offered.
Once the domain of HSV products, the all-alloy, LS3 6.2-litre naturally aspirated V8 produces 304kW and 570Nm of torque; up 34kW and 40Nm over the previous V8's best.
It'll do 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds in six-speed manual guise, and it's a tenth slower when backed by the six-speed automatic transmission.
If you get heavy with the right foot, expect figures closer to 15 and 16L/100km.
An all-new dual-mode exhaust arrangement has been designed for the LS3-equipped machines, with a specially constructed central pipe arrangement combining with a cleverly designed rear box and under-bonnet induction noise enhancer to increase exhaust volume in the cabin and outside the car.
The rear exhaust box set-up is named after its inventor, Dr David Baillie, a respected senior Holden engineer who died in 2015 from leukaemia. The Baillie Tip consists of a perforated internal sleeve is then shrouded with a larger diameter external pipe, which increases the volume in the cabin by about three decibels.
The automatic-equipped SS-V V8's fuel consumption figure is rated at 12.6L/100km, and the manual 12.9L/100km. These figures are a litre worse than the previous engine's consumption numbers.
Our 270km test saw a dash-indicated economy figure of 13.1L/100km – though if you get heavy with the right foot, expect figures closer to 15 and 16.
Right from start-up, the exhaust lets you know that something lurks within, with a deep, chesty baritone rumble spiking your neck hairs. Deep, comfortable buckets hold you snugly, while the six-speed manual shifter and pedals are well positioned.
The Commodore actually does a great job of shrinking around its occupants, seldom feeling unwieldy and wide. It also feels smaller under your right foot, with the shorter final drive ratio sharpening throttle response notably.
Holden has delivered the quintessential four-door sports sedan.
Despite the slightly softer shock tune, the large 20-inch rims and narrow-section tyres on the Redline can feel fidgety over surfaces that are less than perfect, which takes the edge off the car's cross-country ability.
It's only a minor criticism, though; with the addition of the LS3 engine, Holden has delivered the quintessential four-door sports sedan that feels like it's made for Australia.
Holden's Commodore flagship is rated at a maximum of five stars by ANCAP.
It misses out on AEB, but it does have forward collision alert and lane departure warning.
The Commodore is available with a lifetime capped price service program that allows an owner to review the price of a forthcoming service, no matter the age of the car.
A quick check of the cost of a 100,000km service for the SS-V Redline revealed that servicing at every 15,000km up to 60,000km will cost $239 per service, while subsequent services to 105,000km will cost $299.
Holden offers a three-year, 100,000km warranty as standard.
Nowhere else can you get the combination of raw muscle, interior size, terrific interior and all-round ability that the Commodore SS V Redline provides for the asking price.
Is this the last Commodore? No; Holden is committed to carrying the nameplate into the future. Is it the last Australian-made Commodore? Holden is noncommittal about the future of further special editions, but given that the end of production is still a year hence, we'd wager that one or two more specials may escape the factory.
This one, though, is worth considering, even if it's just for a few years. It may have taken 36 years, but the Commodore has finally come of age.
|Evoke||3.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$11,600 – 24,990||2016 Holden Commodore 2016 Evoke Pricing and Specs|
|SS||6.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$29,400 – 48,888||2016 Holden Commodore 2016 SS Pricing and Specs|
|SS Black 20 Pack||6.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$39,990 – 45,980||2016 Holden Commodore 2016 SS Black 20 Pack Pricing and Specs|
|SS Black Pack||6.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$38,990 – 46,990||2016 Holden Commodore 2016 SS Black Pack Pricing and Specs|