Holden Commodore VXR review – some of the people

Holden Commodore VXR review – New Zealand

It’s hard to please everyone. After all, aren’t we all supposed to as unique as a snowflake? Aside from our physical appearance, size, shape, looks and so on, our tastes differ, attitudes range (often quite severely), dress sense, what we opt for in terms of entertainment – I could go on and on. On top of all this, the world in which we live in continues to evolve and so do the social attitudes that surround it, don’t get me started on the PC police. Ahem, in short, it’s impossible to please all the people all of the time – so why do we (and more specifically car makers) continue to try?  

Let me first point out that whether or not we choose to believe it, there is substantial evidence that our planet is experiencing climate change and the boffins have assigned the blame to CO2 gases and the like. Emissions are definitely in the crosshairs, everywhere from cattle to cars, and since our bovine friends refuse to wander around with catalytic converters strapped to their rear end, it’s the automotive industry that is well and truly under the microscope – and in turn, the poor old gas-guzzling relics of the past. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a very big fan.

Electric and Hybrid vehicles are being touted as the future and they may just be (there are other options of course), but in the meantime, car makers have been urged to make their fossil fuel burners more efficient and in many cases, this means the demise of industry icons such as the V8.

Following the release of Holden’s all-new Commodore, there has been a backlash of social stoning that quite frankly, defies logic, particularly since many of these comments are from people that haven’t even set foot inside this new model!

Like the majority of vehicle nameplates (and other V8 stalwarts), the Holden Commodore is moving with the times and adopting 4 and V6 cylinder hearts. They are moving away from rear wheel drive only vehicles to front and four-wheel pedalers while keeping to their sedan and wagon sizing, and modernising the styling while they’re at it – but this has not gone down well with some people. Holden NZ handed me the keys to their liftback VXR to see what I thought.

To me, the new look has a lot of class to it. Of course, there will be those that don’t like the sleeker euro styling. They won’t want the more sculpted nose or upmarket grille. LED matrix Headlamps may be more efficient and brighter but is that really so important?  The 20” alloy wheels will be too big for a certain few, and gently kicking under the rear and having the liftback raise automatically will seem unnecessary, and the 1450L of (seat down) luggage space that lies within will undoubtedly be way too much.

Having Brembo brakes, ABS, ESC, EBD, EPS,TCS, Hill Start Assist, Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Alert, Forward Collision Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are just for pussies, so no point in bringing them up either. Luxuries such as adaptive cruise control, Apple and android connection, heated seats are only more things to go wrong and do modern cars really require a 360-degree camera? Because let’s face it, very few of us need assistance with those tight parking manoeuvres.

Then comes the inevitable shaking of certain heads when the bonnet is lifted and the 3.6L V6 engine is exposed, regardless of the fact that it produces a very usable 235kW and delivers that power to all four wheels via an accomplished 9-speed auto box. And I believe that the key word here is usable.

What the new Commodore lacks in tyre squealing, tail drifting, licence losing rawness, it makes up for in being a taut and precise, sophisticated ride. The adaptive all-wheel drive has the ability to tame the tightest of corners and the V6 engine delivers a confident, reassuring note throughout the power band. It’s an enjoyable ride.

I totally get the fact that this brave new world is not for everyone, (and I’m sure deep down, car companies such as Holden would prefer to keep their beloved V8 forever), but, and maybe this is wishful thinking, seriously folks, drive this vehicle before picking up a stone. The VXR, in fact, the new Commodores in general, offer up a refined yet spirited drive, that IS different from the previous models – mind you, not everyone liked them either. What it all boils down to I guess, is that you can only please some of the people some of the time.

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