Who would have thought a decade ago there’d be a diesel Holden Commodore.
How times have changed with the Holden Commodore Calais ZB model now available with a 2.0 litre, front drive, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine complementing the front drive, 2.0 litre, turbo-petrol four and the all-wheel drive, 3.6 litre petrol V6.
The diesel missed ZB Commodore’s launch phase arriving only recently.
Was it worth the wait?
Doesn’t really matter given the current Holden Commodore sales rate but if you consider sub 5.0-litres/100km fuel economy and EU 6 emissions compliance important, well, yes, the diesel was certainly worth the wait.
Goes good too although the torquey engine combined with front wheel drive has its limitations and feels like all ‘bum draggers’ when driven hard…spins the wheels on low grip surfaces and tends to understeer to the outside of a corner when pushed.
It’s a German made diesel engine while the transmission is an Aisin unit out of Japan combining for a fairly attractive powertrain proposition.
But Commodore is struggling to get traction in a market dominated by medium SUVs and dual cab utes.
Oh, well, Holden can’t let Kia (Stinger) and Skoda (Superb) get all the action in the large sedan segment, can they?
ZB Commodore looks OK in the higher spec’ versions which have specific grilles and frontal treatments with big wheels and other bling to make them look classy.
Calais gets some brightwork but the front looks like it’s swallowed a bee with elements from an earlier Mazda6 crossed with a Ford Mondeo.
And the sedan is actually a hatchback, albeit a big hatchback but not a’real’ sedan. That gives the ZB a large tailgate and a more arcing roofline which may or may not appeal.
The profile is sleek and overall Commodore is pretty easy on the eye.
It just needed a more imposing stance rather than looking like a traditional family hack, in other words like a big version of Toyota’s previous yawn-worthy Camry.
Inside is getting up towards premium European level in terms of design, materials and features. It is certainly a step up on the previous Commodore and incorporates all the latest technology in easy to use format.
The seats are a decent size and there is room for five inside with a large load space down the back.
The Calais is near top of the range with all that brings including excellent audio and plenty of goodies to keep you comfy and entertained/informed.
Materials used have a quality look and the car actually feels like the German made product it is.
Apart from the generous advanced driver assist safety stuff, the Calais does well with goodies like leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats and cooled fronts, wireless phone charging, auto headlights and wipers.
There’s also adaptive LED headlights, an eight-speed auto on the diesel, Holden’s excellent MyLink infotainment system and proper embedded sat-nav.
Drive And Engine
Having driven the turbo petrol and diesel 2.0-litre engines, my preference is for the diesel because it uses nearly half as much fuel and isn’t that far behind the petrol for pace.
A little slow off the mark, diesel Commodore hits its straps just off idle and pulls like a train. The initial lag could be problematic under certain driving circumstances.
It is a comfy car to ride in with the local Holden engineering input ensuring it tracks true and feels responsive.
They had a hand in the suspension, steering and brake calibration and other aspects of Commodore’s dynamics.
Under normal driving conditions, Commodore diesel is predictable and inspires confidence.
Push harder and the front tends to push from understeer. It’s quiet and composed and, as expected, is unlike any Commodore before it.
- Holden Eye Forward Facing Camera
- Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection and Active Bonnet
- Lane Keep Assist
- Lane Departure Warning
- Following Distance Indicator
- Forward Collision Alert with Head-Up Warning
- Side Blind Zone Alert
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- Advanced Park Assist (semi-automatic parking)
- Rear View Camera.
- Front and Rear Park Assist
- Rain Sensing Wipers
- 360-degree camera
- Colour head-up display Passive Safety Features
- Six airbags (driver, front passenger, 2 x curtain, 2 x side impact)
- 2 x ISOFIX child seat attachment points
- Rear automatic locking retractors (Added security when fitting rear child seats)
- Excellent fuel economy
- Strong pulling power
- Slick eight speed auto
- Relatively quiet engine operation
- Comfortable ride/handling
- Powerful brakes
- Roomy interior and boot
- Remote start
Not So Good Bits
- Only tows 1800kg
- Typical front wheel drive feel
- Bland styling
- At times annoying infotainment system
- Needs warranty upgrade like Colorado
- Space saver spare
- Could be quicker off the mark
Though it is in a rapidly declining segment, new Commodore does have plenty to recommend it.
A big car, the ride is supple and all three engines including the diesel offer decent performance.
Thank heavens they had Holden engineers calibrate many aspects of the car.
Would I buy one?
No, I’d join the SUV throng every day…. more practical.
Facts And Figures: 2018 Holden Calais Diesel Sedan
- Engine: 2.0 litre turbo diesel four cylinder 125kW/400Nm
- Transmission: Eight-speed auto
- Safety: Five stars
- Warranty: 7 Yrs
- Origin: Germany
- Price: $43,990