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Holden Commodore Omega road test

by Stephen Walker

25th April, 2011

Home > Road Tests > GM > Holden

It's the most popular car in the nation. What a delightful claim to fame! Of course, I'm talking Holden Commodore here.

Our road test car, the Holden Commodore Omega sedan, in VE Series II guise, continues to symbolise what is good about 'home-grown' big cars.

The attributes possessed by the Commodore include a roomy interior, a good sized boot (496 litres), comfortable (but not luxurious) seating with lumbar support upfront, handy-sized illuminated glove box, good performance, smooth ride qualities and effective air conditioning. Additionally, the Commodore Omega features a 4-way adjustable steering column (fingers crossed that all cars will get this convenient feature), foot rest for the driver's left foot, automatic headlights, power operated windows (power down feature on the driver's window, but no power up on any window - reinforcing the Omega's status as the base model in the Commodore range), sunglasses holder, trip computer, 16" alloy wheels (4) and user-friendly cruise control.

Not so good is the old-fashion non-collapsible ignition key and the cheap-look plastic for the centre console. A 'flip' key is available for those who wish to pay a little extra.

The Commodore Omega is powered by a 3 litre V6 engine. Power is rated at 190 kW at 6,700 rpm, whilst the torque is rated at 290 Nm at 2,900 rpm. The transmission is a six-speed automatic, featuring two overdrive ratios. Whilst regular unleaded and premium unleaded petrol is the 'normal' fuel choice for many drivers, the Holden 3 litre V6 (but not the 3.6 litre V6 in other Holden models) is capable of running on bio-ethanol, or E85 as it is better known. This latter fuel source, E85, is much more than a novelty. It offers real prospects for reduced running costs and, because it has local content, an opportunity to reduce the amount of Aussie dollars that are sent overseas to acquire petrol. Further, E85 will give you an opportunity to reduce your emissions 'footprint'. A noble quality, indeed.

Our drive consisted of 350 kilometres of purely urban driving. Fuel usage came in at 12.01 litres per 100 km, according to the on-board trip computer. The fuel tank capacity is 71 litres.

Safety features for Commodore Omega include six airbags and Electronic Stability Control (ESC). The ANCAP rating for the Omega is five stars.

Connectivity is an important issue these days. The Commodore Omega is friendly in this respect with iPod, USB, AUX input jack and there is enhanced Bluetooth for compatible mobile phones. The single disc CD player can play MP3 tracks. A radio is no longer listed in Holden's specs for the Omega. However, there is an AM/FM radio fitted.

The towing capacity of an Omega is 1,600 kg for a braked trailer.

The Holden Commodore Omega sedan is priced from $39,990* (MLP*) without options and excluding the traditional on-road costs. The test car was fitted with the optional satellite navigation system. Although not fitted to the test car, a reversing camera is a worthwhile option.

With over 4,000 local sales in March 2011, the Commodore outsold its nearest direct rival by a ratio that exceeded two to one. In fact, only two model line-ups exceeded 4,000 unit sales in March. The other was a Japanese brand with the nation's most popular 4x2/4x4 utility range.

To digress for a moment or two, it is a simple fact of manufacturing and marketing economics that 4,000 or so monthly sales doesn't ensure a long term future in the automotive industry when it comes to a volume model. In looking at selected statistics from Holden's past, 1960 saw 12,000 units of Holden's FB series sold monthly. The considerably smaller market was, of course, less complex in those days. In the year 2000, Holden manufactured 133,016 vehicles in Elizabeth, South Australia. Clearly, Holden needs an increased level of exports for its big car range to ensure its long term viability because it seems local sales aren't going to increase any time soon. As is generally known, big cars often appeal to North Americans. But they have their own manufacturing facilities making it difficult for a distant plant, such as that in Adelaide, to supply a volume model (although many other brands supply to a global market from a single plant). So-called experts, often self-appointed, claim that the cost of fuel is driving down large car sales. However, that argument doesn't wash with me. In my opinion, the relentless diversity of the new car market is the real reason that the larger Aussie cars have endured a sales decline in recent times. These days, lifestyle choices often dictate what car goes home with a new car buyer. Car companies are very good at making their products appeal. The Holden Commodore continues to possess appeal, but it is challenged by other segments of the market more so than by direct competitors.

With continuing developments with alternative fuels, the Holden Commodore should appeal more and more to those who travel big distances. In the meantime, the big car advantages of the past are just as relevant today as they have ever been.


NOTE: * MLP (manufacturer's list price) excludes options, dealer delivery fees and the state/territory statutory charges. Additionally, all prices, fees, charges and specifications are always subject to change without notice.

More Holden News ..... here.
General Motors News ..... here.
Sustainable Motoring News ..... here.

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