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The new VE Holden Commodore has been four years in the making at a cost of around 1 Billion dollars and is the biggest investment in a new model by Holden yet. Holden engineers had been given a 'once in a lifetime' opportunity to design completely new vehicle without the constraints of having to incorporate the new model onto a existing Commodore platform. As a result the new VE Omega is worlds apart from the superseded VZ range that started life as the VT Commodore back in 1997. The Omega replaces the Executive in the model line up.
The Omega pricing starts at $34,490 without air conditioning, air, a $2,000 option takes the price up to $36,490. It's available only with an automatic transmission. Other options include a six disc CD player, $595, a heavy duty suspension package, $330, metallic paint, $375, rear Park Distance Control, $495, and a Safety Pack, $2,000.
Looking at others in this class the Mitsubishi 380 ES automatic, at $29,990, leads the way on pricing. The new Ford Falcon XT BF Mark 2, $35,990 and the new large car from Toyota, the Aurion ATX, priced at $34,990 are competitive and then there is the Hyundai Sonata, $34,990, and the Honda Accord V6 that has its recommended retail price dropped to $36,990.
The Omega comes with a comprehensive list of standard features, and notably a first for an entry level Commodores, Electronic Stability Program - incorporating Anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, Electronic Brake assist, and traction control. Other features include central locking, steering wheel controls for trip computer and audio. Cruise control, power external mirrors, variable speed wipers, an automatic headlight function, power windows, ski hatch, Multi-function trip computer, AM/FM stereo with single disc CD player with 6 speakers, speed dependant volume control, electric adjustable drivers seat with lumbar support, power windows, dual stage front and side airbags for driver and passenger, front seatbelts with load limiters and pretensioners.
The Omega is powered by the 3.6 litre Alloytec engine producing 180kW and has a four speed automatic transmission.
The Omega's wheelbase has increased by 126mm over the previous model and has given designers the opportunity to increase interior space. A new dash design that rolls down toward front seat occupants also increases the spacious feeling. Headroom for front and rear passengers is generous, and a revised rear boot hinge design reduces intrusion into the boot space. Rather than having a split fold rear seat, there is a large ski hatch in the centre of the rear seats that fold down to provide over 1.9 metres of length. Glove box size is generous and has a horizontal divider to stop items from sliding around.
The new design front seats appear to be thinner in section compared to the previous models; however on test they proved to be comfortable and provided good levels of support. As on previous models the steering wheel is adjustable for tilt and reach. Comfort in the rear is good, the seat base provides adequate thigh support the only exception is the centre position, the backrest felt too upright and a little too hard.
Inside the Omega all the 'touch points' like the steering wheel, transmission shift lever and major switchgear have an improved quality feel to them. Gone from the dash are the stiff controls for air conditioning and ventilation, replaced with more tactile rotary dials. Like the previous VZ the ignition key is a one touch design - a nice feature.
Instruments are easier to read and there is a large central display between speedometer and tacho that provides additional trip information
and a digital readout of speed.
Thick A-pillars restrict vision slightly when turning through tighter corners, and the handbrake was the only other concern. I found it positioned too close to the body for comfortable use especially when pulled on hard, when not in use it keeps the interior console looking clean design-wise - pulled up less so.
The Omega is equipped with front and side airbags, front seat belts with load limiters and pretensioners. All seating positions have lap sash belts, Electronic Stability Program [ESP] ABS brakes with Electronic Brake Force distribution and Electronic Brake assist and Traction control are standard on the Omega.
The huge engineering investment shows up in the Omega's visual appearance, the panel fit and finish has improved markedly and is first class. Wheel trims covering the 16inch steel wheels are top quality mouldings, from a distance the Omega could have alloy wheels. Door openings have a much smoother contour and integrated appearance.
Inside it's the same story - predominately dark tones broken up by the different surface textures to create visual interest. In a first for Commodore the passenger side aperture for the airbag is invisible, it's incorporated into the crash pad-and it gives the dashboard a much more sophisticated look and feel. The only negative was the centre mesh cover on the top of the dash - its contour was slightly different to the rest.
Keyless entry, remote central locking with deadlock, and an engine immobiliser is standard on the Omega.
Its security rating has improved compared to the previous model; it receives a rating of 75.
The 180kW Alloytec engine requires standard unleaded fuel and has a tank capacity of 73 litres. On test we recorded a highway consumption figure of 8 litres per 100kms. On our suburban cycle the Omega returned 10.8 litre per 100 kms both excellent figures for this size vehicle.
The V6 Alloytec engine produces 180kW of power at 6,000 rpm and 330Nm of torque at 2,600 rpm. Both figures are up slightly from the Alloytec engine fitted to the last VZ. Matched to this engine is a heavily revised four speed automatic transmission. You have to go up in specification to the Berlina/SV6 range to get the 195kW and five speed automatic combination.
In spite having the lower output engine and lack of an extra gear ratio the Omega is a good performer, most notably around town where it felt a lot sharper and responsive compared to VZ.
At cruising speeds the engine uses its torque well it works harder when passing or accelerating up an incline but it never loses its composure.
The new Omega has improved ride quality - it feels firmer and more 'European' than its predecessor and its consistent whether the road is smooth or rough.
A big improvement over previous models especially in steering response and feel, its now much more linear and requires less adjustment when cornering. The chassis has a taut feel and when encountering poor quality sections of road the Omega doesn't become unbalanced or flighty. It has a much flatter attitude when cornering.
Brakes are ventilated front discs and ventilated rear discs. ABS braking with Electronic Brake force, Distribution and Electronic Brake assist are standard. Brake pedal feel is improved and overall they are sharper and more reassuring than previous Commodores tested.
The drive train in the Omega transmits little in the way of mechanical noise into the cabin. When you really push the engine to its limits, passing or accelerating, it becomes a little noisier its not unduly intrusive though.
The Commodore Omega has the freshness in design, refinement and handling qualities to compete in a market where sales volumes are shrinking and there is increasing competition.
Test vehicle supplied by Holden.
|Model||Commodore VE Omega|
Electronic stability control standard on Omega
Handbrake position and operation
|Country of manufacture||Australia|
|Warranty||3 years/100,000 kilometres|
|Number of cylinders||6|
|Engine size||3.564 L|
|Claimed max power (kW)||180 kW @ 6000 rpm|
|Claimed max torque (Nm)||330 Nm @ 2600 rpm|
|Wheel size||16 x 7 "|
|Spare tyre type||Temporary use|
|Type||Variable ratio power assist|
|Turning circle (measured)||11.5 m|
|Width (including mirrors)||2080 mm|
|Fuel capacity||73 litres|
|Max towed mass (trailer plus load)||2100 kg|
NRMA Theft Rating
|Points on scale 0 - 120 (high score is best)||75|
Acceleration - Test results
|50 - 80km/h||5.1 secs|
|60 - 100km/h||6.7 secs|
|0 - 80km/h||6 secs|
|0 - 100km/h||8.9 secs|
|Best recorded during testing||8.0 L/100km|
|Worst recorded during testing||10.8 L/100km|
|Average on test||9.4 L/100km|
|Distance to stop (from 80km/h)||24.9 metres|