The line-up is extensive and, while many will be unhappy there’s no longer a V8 option, the mechanical specification is high-tech. Gone is the old 3.6-litre Alloytec V6, replaced with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo across three grades: the entry level LT, the RS and the Calais. The 3.6-litre AWD V6 is available as an option on the RS and Calais, and standard on the top model VXR. A diesel engine is also available for the LT range. A nine-speed auto is used for the 2.0-litre and V6, where other markets have to make do with an older eight-speed. The diesel, with its extra torque, uses a more rugged eight-speed unit.
The 2.0-litre develops 191kW and 350Nm, making it the most powerful entry-level Commodore ever offered and, at 7.4L/100km, the most economical as well. The only downside is that premium fuel is required. The naturally aspirated V6 puts out 236kW and 380Nm, has a combined fuel consumption figure of 8.9L/100km (RS) using regular unleaded, and the 125kW and 400Nm diesel sips just 5.6L/100km. The V6 powertrain delivers power to the wheels via an adaptive AWD system. It can direct as much as 100 per cent of torque to the front wheels for improved fuel consumption or down to a 50/50 front-rear split, depending on conditions. The rear differential uses two internal electric clutches to control torque from the left to right wheel, negating the need for a traditional limited slip differential. It’ll improve road grip and balance, impeding understeer and oversteer more efficiently.
Three body styles are on offer: liftback (sedan), sportwagon and tourer. The tourer is an interesting new variant based on the sportwagon. Popular in Europe, where station wagons still hold sway over SUVs, the AWD tourer has ‘high ride’ suspension providing better ground clearance over the sportwagon, and some body cladding to give it a more rugged, off-road look. The AWD system also includes the electric limited slip differential (LSD). For those seeking an alternative to an SUV, this may well be the ticket.
Pricing for the 12-model range starts at $33,690 for the LT 2.0-litre turbo liftback, with the LT sportwagon $35,890. The RS V6 liftback starts at $40,790 and the higher spec RS-V sportwagon at $49,190. The familiar Calais nameplate has been retained and the 2.0-litre Calais liftback is priced at $40,990, with the V6 Calais-V $51,990. The tourer starts at $45,990 for the Calais and the hero of the range is the VXR at $55,990. Holden is offering introductory drive-away pricing on certain models – the LT liftback is $35,990 drive away, almost $4000 cheaper than the outgoing VFII Evoke sedan.