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Holden Monaro 2006 review


After all, the Holden Monaro is dead. The final run of golden Holdens has been run and done. They are either out at dealerships or on their way to new homes.

The last Monaro CV8Z will be put up for worldwide bidding on next Thursday as a fundraiser for The Leukemia Foundation — complete with a Datadot signature by the car's designer, Michael Simcoe.

The Monaro will live for just a little longer as the HSV Coupe and the Vauxhall Monaro in Britain and the Pontiac GTO, but GM Holden did the final production work at the end of December and now we have spent our last week with the car.

It was fun and rewarding and just a little bit sad. It is still hard to believe that a car so good, and so obviously and comprehensively Australian, is gone.

Some say the born-again Monaro was just a Commodore Coupe, and not a patch on the original.

But it is a great car that was brought back to the GM Holden line-up by popular acclaim.

It was fast-tracked to showrooms only because of the extraordinary public support for the original concept coupe at the Sydney Motor Show.

The car was created to give the Monaro a worthwhile farewell. It's a lot better than the cynical LE coupe that was used to push the last of the original Monaros out of showrooms in the 1970s.

The LE was really just a parts-bin special and most people who remember the car are likely to recall its outdated sound system.

This time around Holden gave the car plenty of power, a good look and all the equipment to make it a collector's car.

And at $60,490, it is great value compared with potential rivals, including the Nissan 350Z.

The package is headed by a 260kW V8 engine and six-speed manual gearbox, with 18-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, modified rear lamps and special badges.

GM Holden originally planned to build only 1200 farewell cars, but this was extended by 400 as customers demanded a Monaro.

They are still asking for answers as the Monaro goes away. They don't want the Monaro to die and everyone at GM Holden knows the support for a life-after-death return of the Monaro.

"We think of it as a Buddhist thing. It's current life is over, but it could be back as something even better," an insider says.

The chairman of GM Holden, Denny Mooney, is a big supporter of the Monaro and was in Detroit last month when another born-again muscle car was revealed at the North American Auto Show.

The Chevrolet Camaro is a teaser for a potential production car and, best for Australia, its body is built over the mechanical package of the VE Commodore.

That means there could be another Monaro, but Mooney is careful not to confirm anything.

"Everyone at Holden is certainly committed to delivering a new generation Monaro in the future, but there is still a lot of work to make that happen.

"Monaro means too much to Holden to not have another Monaro at some time in the future."

On the Road

The last-blast Monaro is a blast. And a great drive. It went through the test-car garage just after the latest version of the Falcon GT and was a clear winner in the Ford-against-Holden contest.

It is more involving at every level, more challenging, and has that special feel Ford Performance Vehicles has lost with the update of its GT to satisfy new government regulations.

Some people will argue that it's an unfair comparison, because the GT lives and the Monaro dies, but that is how we call it.

The Monaro is still a fairly blunt instrument, but it gets the job done. It didn't feel as sharp into bends as we remembered, needing a bit more steering to get it to turn, but that could be some suspension tuning to cope with the potential for 260kW to twist the world sideways.

Starting with the body, the bold gold test car turned heads, had people taking a second look in their rear-view mirrors.

The Monaro has great gobs of torque at all engine speeds. It will rev hard if you need to overtake in a hurry or just want to hear the roar of the V8 — which is less restrained than the Falcon — yet our economy of 14.2 litres/100km was not too bad.

The car devours ground and is a comfortable grand tourer.

We like the updated cabin with its extra gauges and piano-black colouring on the trim around the instruments. And the seats are cushy and supportive. The sound system is great, the trip computer excellent, and we love the big digital speedo read-out.

But the sunroof in the test car, fitted at Holden Special Vehicles, was disappointing. It looked a bit cheap and the black-out screen seemed to slide open under hard acceleration.

Holden's engineers have always excelled on the Monaro's suspension and the CV8Z rides surprisingly smoothly. One bump on our test road had something banging underneath the car, though we could not find the culprit. But apart, from that, it is a relaxing yet communicative drive.

The Monaro will hussle through any corner with a slight and comforting front-end push, but keen drivers can tune the handling balance with their right foot. And all that V8 muscle is always available any time the road straightens.

It is sad to see the Monaro going because it is so good and has done so well.

It is a car we have always enjoyed. The last of the line is still pulling strong and that is the right way for the story to end, at least for now.

Holden says all the CV8Z farewell cars are at dealers. If you can still find one, we can recommend it.


The Bottom Line

The last of the Monaros is a great way to say goodbye.


Pricing Guides

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Range and Specs

CV8 5.7L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $18,260 – 23,100 2006 Holden Monaro 2006 CV8 Pricing and Specs
CV8-Z 5.7L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $16,940 – 21,780 2006 Holden Monaro 2006 CV8-Z Pricing and Specs
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