Diesel do just nicely – Holden diesel review

Holden New Zealand

Holden Diesel Review New Zealand

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you’ll have noticed that the face of Holden has changed somewhat. The car brand’s ‘Westieness’ has given way to a more global visage. It’s a mind shift that hasn’t pleased everyone but by dipping into their overseas worldwide pool of vehicles has made for a more expansive and overall more appealing brand range.

Added to Holden’s wide range of vehicles is their large choice of powertrains, from the small 1.4L ECOTEC that fits snuggly under the pert little nose of the Spark to the powerful 3.6L  V6 that is the force behind the new Commodore VXR….. then, of course, there are the diesels. To gain a little more insight to how proud they are about these advanced power bases, Holden gave me the chance to try a couple of them out, back to back

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First of all the contentious Commodore ZB. Removing the centuries-old (ok it’s not that long but seems that to many a Holden fan) V8 stalwart was a bold move that essentially, like it or not, had to be done. Depending on the model you opt for, this ‘freed up’ engine bay space has been filled with your choice of three engines, a 2L turbo petrol, a 3.6L V6 and the 2L diesel that was located under the bonnet of my LT model.

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As some of you may know, I have already expressed my affection for the new Commodore ZB so regardless of what was under the bonnet I was sure I’d enjoy the ride. The styling is sleek, the ‘liftback’ is expansive and the front-wheel-drive handling is terrific. My ride came dressed in Cosmic Grey and although this model is the first rung on the Commodore ladder spec-wise, it still felt well-appointed and came equipped with the likes of passive entry and push-button start, Carplay and AndroidAuto, Lane keep assist and Autonomous Emergency Braking. But we’re here to talk about that engine.  At a shade over 1,600kgs (kerb weight) the ZB isn’t a lightweight but nor is it a Heffalump either, it is, however, a spacious sedan that requires a fair amount of power to move it, power that the 2L diesel has ample amounts of – 125kW in fact. Added to this is its impressive 400Nm of torque that introduces itself to you at a low 1,750 rpm. The result is a Commodore that shifts off the mark spritely and delivers a lovely amount of power to each of its 8 gears.

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With a reported (combined) fuel efficiency of 5.7L/100k, my fuel gauge did its best to remain fixed in the ‘full’ position as long as long as it could but with my extended family in town and my desire to drive this sedan, we finally had it moving south, but not at any scary rate – actually, even with an array of expressive driving and needless short trips, the instrument cluster’s central digital display proclaimed that we’d managed to eek out a mere 7.2L/100km!

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Back at Holden, I exchanged the Commodore’s keys with the Equinox’s, time for some SUV exploration. Once again, I must be upfront and say that I’m rather partial to the Equinix too. From a smaller family network such as mine, this 5-seater SUV ticks a lot of the boxes. It handles well on the road, has an SUV riding position and comes heavily equipped with a whole host of driver/safety aids – but once again, we’re here to discuss the engine.

This is the third engine to be introduced in the Equinox range and as you move up towards larger SUVs, diesel often increases in popularity. The Equinox is not massive but has a kerb weight that nudges over 1,555kgs and for me, that caused a slight issue with the 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine.

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The new 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine produces 100kW of power and the pretty hefty 320Nm of torque appears at 2,000rpm which on paper is not bad at all. However, when mated with the six-speed transmission and all encased in a medium-sized SUV becomes, well, ok. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not by any means bad and had I not played with the other played with the other powertrains before, I may not be so picky, but it makes the Equinox feel (IMHO) a little heavy.

On a more upbeat note, the power is delivered smoothly and on of course there are the efficiency numbers (5.6L/100km) to support the purchasing argument, which in real world, everyday terms is becoming increasingly stronger as fuel prices continue to rise.

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With my week of SUV fun over I once again returned it back to Holden, taking a moment to ponder both vehicles. Their outward appearance and drive differences aside, both had the same objective, give frugal fuel efficiency numbers while maintaining strong and enduring hearts. Electricity may be the buzzword or darling for the ‘future’ motoring industry but let’s not forget that for a long time now, ALL powertrains have been focussed on lowering CO2’s and increasing efficiencies. So, with that in mind, when it comes to Holden, dies’ll do just nicely.

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