Holden Commodore Executive - VZ series
road test

More of the same?

No Australian car is better known than the Commodore. And a couple of months ago, yet another new Commodore came along. This time with a styling change which adopted the minimalist approach. The VZ series, as it is known, will be the last revision of the now familiar body styling. But the big news with the VZ, is under the bonnet.

Gone is the familiar 3.8 litre V6 which first appeared way back in 1988 with the VN series.

The new engine is a locally built, lightweight alloy, 3.6 litre V6, known as Alloytec 175. The figure '175' is derived from its power rating. You've guessed it ..... it has a power rating of 175 kW at 6,000 rpm. Torque is a healthy 320 Nm at 2,800 rpm. This engine is standard for the Executive, Acclaim, Berlina and the base model commercial derivatives.

There is a 190 kW version of the same engine as standard on the SV6, Calais and Statesman. The '190' is a reduced cost option on the Caprice.

The test car was an Executive with the standard Alloytec 175 engine, coupled to the standard 4-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. This transmission offers a cut-off switch for the overdrive. When you do a major portion of your driving in city traffic, you accept that overdrive is useless around town. Hence a cut-off switch makes a lot of sense. Hopefully, Ford and Mitsubishi will adopt this great idea soon!

Driving the VZ is virtually no different from the superceded VY series II. The new engine may be a little more fuel efficient but in the performance department it is difficult to notice any difference. That's not so bad, though. The Commodore has always been a good performer! Although my very first encounter with the VZ Executive made me feel that the Alloytec 175 was a little slow on the power uptake. To better describe this, let me say that there was a split second delay with the power delivery upon acceleration from a standing start. We'll be looking at this point closely when we have another look at the Alloytec 175 at some time in the future. The traditional attributes of the Commodore are carried over to the new VZ. The braking, ride, handling and steering are all good, just as we have come to expect from Holden.

2004 Holden Commodore Executive - VZ series 
at Nelson Bay NSW
The new VZ series Commodore Executive
Location: Nelson Bay NSW

Click the image for a larger view

2004 Holden Commodore Executive - VZ series 
at Hunter Region Botanic Gardens NSW
The new VZ series Commodore Executive
Location: Hunter Region Botanic Gardens

Click the image for a larger view

Even in the base model Commodore Executive, the interior trim is nicely presented. The grey tone is pleasant and the materials are very good, thus it provides a relaxing and comfortable environment. Little wonder it remains Australia's best selling car.

Some of the worthwhile standard features of the VZ Executive include front air bags (but no side airbags, as they are optional), ABS, EBD, steering wheel height and reach adjustment, cruise control, trip computer, outside power mirrors, front seat lumbar support, remote control power key and, importantly, automatic headlights. A single disc CD player is standard, whilst a 6 disc CD player is a worthwhile option.

Pricing of the Commodore range is competitive, but Holden may have to watch the pricing, because it doesn't seem that the market is taking prices on a general move upward. The new car market remains very aggressive despite the market running at record levels. The test car, a VZ Executive sedan with metallic paint and air conditioning has a RRP of $35,410, which is at the upper limit of the price range for this type of car. It seems to me that fleet operators are the buyers of Commodores. There is a quite a lot of competition in the mid-to-high 30s and imported cars, together with lifestyle type vehicles (such as 4x4s) are attracting more and more owners as private buyers look beyond the traditional aussie six. Despite that, the Commodore remains highly sought after as a late model used car.

The colour choice is improving. There is a choice of 9 colours on the Executive. The test car was the new 'Odyssey', which is a mid-to-darkish silver with a slight bluish tinge. It looks attractive and, because it is a new colour to the range, it is quite appealing.

More of the same ..... that is what is on offer here. And there's nothing wrong with that! The latest Commodore, the VZ series, continues to offer quite a decent package for those who require a larger car with excellent driving qualities and a comfortable interior.

Stephen Walker
8th December, 2004

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