The WM Caprice was a natural choice when it came time to find a great value for money car with street presence and economical running costs. With only minor detail changes to the exterior styling since 2006, in great condition and with a strict detailing regimen my Evoke grey metallic example can pass off as a current model with a $60k sticker – prefect in my current job where appearances count!
Performance from the high series 190kw V6 is adequate, restrained by the hefty kerb weight, however there is no doubt it is fit for purpose. My local mechanic has no concerns with this cat and standard services come and go with incident free regularity. Loaded up with five blokes over 6ft tall and a boot full of luggage up a mountain pass in the middle of summer with the tri zone climate set to "cold" is dispatched without a hint of strain. The 5spd auto transmission is adequate, but harsh in comparison to more modern transmissions, with upshifts under full throttle thumping home. Ford's ZF 6 speed is vastly superior by comparison.
Internally, the Caprice seating is excellent front and rear. Comfortable and spacious, the only downsides are in terms of the dashboard. Having seen and lived with the newer VF/WN dash in my other car (VF GTS 6m in Regal Peacock) the dash and infotainment marks it's place in time. What was decent upon release now ages the car terribly. The sunroof is great but emits an annoying ruffle if all windows are up. Crack one window slightly and the noise is gone.
When parking you are under no illusions as to the scale of the car. Front and rear sensors are helpful, the omission of a reverse camera unforgivable, and the vision acceptable bar the intrusion of the massive C-pillars. Whilst attractive from the outside, when reversing into traffic from a driveway they are a real problem in living with the car day-to-day.
Under my ownership, I have averaged 30,000kms per year, and with most of these running late between appointments, the car is driven harder than average, resulting in an average fuel consumption figure of 12.7l/100km.
Handling in this version is geared towards comfort, unlike later Caprice V versions boasting the FE1.5 suspension. An upgrade to HSVi 20" supersport wheels has enhanced visual presence, however has led to a slightly confusing combination of wallowy handling from cushy suspension, but with the bump/thump that low profile tyres introduce. A current Caprice V with FE1.5 and 19" wheels would be a vastly superior option. Speaking of handling, if you do try to hustle the largest car made in Australia, be prepared to pay not only at the pump, but become known on a first name basis at your local tyre store. Yes, decent tyres are done to the nylon carcasses in 27000ks.
Servicing costs are modest, and there is never an issue with parts availability. At 121,000ks, my V6 required a new throttle body, in stock at the dealer and fitted within half an hour. Back on the road without any delay for parts – something that may be a thing of the past once local manufacturing is gone and we have to choose product from one of over sixty imported brands.
Importantly, it passes the "right car" test. I once read that "If you don't look back at your car after you parked it, you bought the wrong car!" I look back every time, and though it's not perfect, it's sheer presence and value for money continue to lift the corners of my mouth.
Most of my concerns have been covered in the WN upgrade……but could I buy a WN Caprice V and tell the neighbours I just paid $50k changeover for a car that they can tell apart from the old one? Nah, I'll keep this one for another year and ponder an upgrade next financial year. As a used buy, a WM Caprice mounts a powerful argument with presence beyond it's modest price.
(Typed on my phone, wish I was on my pc!)