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For nearly 20 years, the Statesman has enjoyed a loyal following based on the 'big car for a big country' principle, and the new WH series cars are even bigger again.
The Statesman has grown in both wheelbase and body size to offer an unbeatable amount of occupant and luggage space, while under the bonnet there's the option of an immensely powerful 5.7 litre V8 engine, courtesy of the Chevrolet Corvette and Camaro/Firebird.
Thanks to its alloy construction, the new V8 weighs only four kilograms more than the 3.8 litre cast iron V6 and this allows both versions to use the same suspension calibration and wheel and tyre set-up.
The new Statesman's wider tracks and longer wheelbase provide improved stability, while other suspension revisions, together with its stronger body, give it superior handling, a quieter cabin and a more supple ride than the previous model.
Self-levelling rear suspension is a standard feature, thus helping the Statesman to cope better with carrying heavy loads and to improve its towing dynamics.
To get the same sort of space and performance that the Statesman offers in an imported vehicle, you're looking at well over $100,000; similarly priced European imports are much smaller, with less powerful engines.
The Statesman range starts at $51,990 for the V6, with the Supercharged V6 priced at $52,990 and the V8 (tested) costing $56,320.
Caprices start at $66,040 for the V6; the Supercharged V6 costs $67,040 and the V8 is priced at $69,920.
Equipment levels are lavish, even in the Statesman V6. Included are dual front and side airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners, nine-way power adjustment for the front seats, automatic airconditioning, two-stage unlocking with alarm, remote deadlocking and a transponder immobiliser. A six-stack CD/10-speaker sound system is standard and a priority key system allows two drivers to program their own preferences for airconditioning and audio settings, and in the Caprice, seat position and mirror adjustment.
Whereas the Statesman has velour upholstery, the Caprice is trimmed in a mixture of leather and suede. The Caprice also features separate audio controls and head-phone jacks that allow rear seat passengers to listen to a different audio source to front occupants. Caprice rear passengers also have their own airconditioning controls.
Other Caprice 'niceties' include illuminated rear vanity mirrors, heated exterior mirrors, auto dipping left exterior mirror when reverse is selected and an electrochromatic interior mirror to reduce glare.
Inside the Statesman (and Caprice) there's the sort of leg room that is usually reserved for stretch limos. The combination of stretch-out space, deep, well-padded seats, low interior noise levels and a compliant ride adds up to an ideal environment for comfortable long distance travel. Only the centre rear occupant doesn't travel so well; he or she has to contend with less seat padding and a large floor hump.
With the 5.7 litre V8 engine, the Statesman is a formidable performer. Acceleration times are in the supercar class, but without any fuss or crankiness. Start-offs have deliberately been softened to avoid undue transmission snatch or strain, but once under way, the V8 Statesman gets moving with deceptive pace.
The traction control system is needed, otherwise wheel spin would be a real problem, but its action causes some unpleasant reaction through the accelerator pedal at times.
Like all big cars, the Statesman's composure can be ruffled when it's asked to change direction suddenly, or when hurried through tight turns, but in general open road conditions it handles confidently and securely.
The Statesman inherits excellent braking capabilities from the VT Commodores, with the four-disc anti-lock system providing powerful emergency stopping power and very good resistance to fade under heavy use.
If space, comfort and performance are high on your list of priorities for a new car, you could do well to look at the new Holden WH Statesman.
With its longer wheelbase and longer body, the new Statesman offers an abundance of space for occupants and their luggage, and pampers them in very comfortable surroundings with plenty of luxury equipment. Safety and security rate highly, and in the V8 version tested, there is more performance than you are ever likely to need.
Test vehicle supplied by Holden Ltd.
|Price of vehicle tested||56,320|
Occupant space and comfort
Fuel consumption when worked hard
|Country of manufacture||Australia|
|Warranty||3 years/100,000 kilometres|
$51,990 - V6
|Number of cylinders||8|
|Engine size||5.7 L|
|Wheel size||16 "|
|Type||Power assisted rack and pinion|
|Turns to lock||2.8 m|
|Turning circle (measured)||11.7 m|
|Width (including mirrors)||2018 mm|
|Fuel capacity||75 litres|
|Max towed mass (trailer plus load)||2100 kg|
NRMA Theft Rating
|Points on scale 0 - 120 (high score is best)||88|
Acceleration - Test results
|50 - 80km/h||4.4 secs|
|60 - 100km/h||5.3 secs|
|0 - 80km/h||4.8 secs|
|0 - 100km/h||6.8 secs|
|Best recorded during testing||11.5 L/100km|
|Worst recorded during testing||16.7 L/100km|
|Average on test||13.2 L/100km|
|Distance to stop (from 80km/h)||27.6 metres|
|Interior noise at constant 80km/h||65 dB(A)|