2008 Holden Berlina Sportwagon review

$7,680 $9,130 Dealer
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2008 Holden Sportwagon Berlina review & road test

Model Tested:

  • 2008 Holden Berlina Sportwagon Automatic - $ 41,790 (RRP)


  • Full size spare alloy wheel - $250
  • Leather inserts - $2500
  • Metallic Paint - $400

Stylish, spacious, comfortable, practical

Coarse engine, fuel consumption

CarAdvice Rating:

- Photography and words by Karl Peskett

A little while ago, CarAdvice's Matt Brogan took the Calais Sportwagon for a spin. He was impressed with the room and looks, but the drivetrain left him a little wanting.

With that in mind, I headed off to Holden to pick up the Berlina Sportwagon. It's one rung down the ladder from the Calais, so surely this is going to be torture, isn't it?

Not quite. The Berlina is priced more cheaply, so you'd expect that on a spec-per-dollar basis, the Berlina should at least match, or better the Calais. What do you get, then for your $41,790?

Well, you get six airbags, rear parking sensors, ESC, heaps of room, an excellent Bluetooth system, dual-zone climate control and a four-star safety rating.

So, it's not too bad in the pricing stakes. The immense room is something that really helps, though. Front, rear, boot, everything is big. That means comfortable travel, too. In comparison with the SS version we also tested earlier, though, the Berlina's seats are quite flat.

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Not only is there almost nothing in the way of shaping or bolstering, being covered in leather, as was the test car, the seats also tend to be a little slippery. The Berlina is not a sports car, so it's more suited to taking it easy, but cruisier cars than the Berlina have better seats. They will probably soften up with a bit of use, though, meaning you'll sink into them, rather than sit on them, as you start out.

Something that does feel a bit better in the Berlina than the SS we tried recently, is the brakes. As the speed potential of the V6 powered Berlina is nowhere near the SS, the same brakes feel a whole lot stronger.

When we say that the speed potential is nowhere near the SS, we mean it. The Alloytec V6 is sadly lethargic when mated to a four-speed automatic and stuffed into a 1800kg car. It's also not the smoothest, either.

In the sedan, there's sound deadening which is consequential. The rear seats meet up with the rear windscreen, and it divides off the boot. In the Sportwagon, it's all open. That means exhaust noise comes into the cabin, and there's a scratchy tinnyness, from which the sedan just doesn't suffer.

As a result, there's a coarse, whirry sound, which for the newness of the engine, just shouldn't be there. It only pulls from around 4000rpm, too, which means it has to work very hard, only to be undercut everytime it changes gear, and drops below the 4000rpm mark. A couple more ratios would be nice, to keep it in its sweet spot.

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That said, the only complaint about the ageing four-speed is the lack of ratios. It kicks down fine, it is smooth when shifting (yes, you did read that correctly), and it proves that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Gone is the driveline clunk and shunt that used to plague the 4L60 boxes.

But in context of 2008 product, it's definitely getting left behind. The fewer ratios also mean that fuel economy is compromised to an extent as well. Holden's official ADR figure is 11.1-litres per 100km, however it's more common to see two or three litres added to that figure. Blame the weight. It takes a fair effort to move off the line, which is where the Berlina gets slugged.

Across our typically broken bitumen, the Berlina acquits itself well, providing a niceish ride in the medium to high speed bracket. At lower speeds there's a little bit of thump, but the test car was certainly damped better in the rear than the SS Sportwagon.

The steering is also aligned with its siblings, although the extra feedback could be due to the initial scrub in harder cornering. It is, after all, a big car. Don't expect sports car peformance. It's best to accept the Berlina for what it is - an upgraded reps car.

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The problem with the Berlina Sportwagon, is it's a bit bland. It's likeable, but there's nothing really to love about it. The space is excellent, the ride is nice, and overall it drives okay. It just doesn't have the cachet of higher level Holden wagons, it doesn't have the refinement of other brands, it's not sporty in any way, nor does it give you outstanding fuel consumption.

Sure, it's a step up from the Omega, with its front fog lamps, excellent Bluetooth, six-disc stacker, and dual-zone climate control. That makes it worth the extra $3500, including the fact that you go up to 17-inch wheels, as well.

However, the interior just lets it down. It's just masses of grey, with a very cheap silver plastic surrounding the automatic and centre console. Sorry to say it, but if you used a silver spraycan, it would look better.

Still, it is better value than the Calais, and it will eat up the kilometres with little effort. As a spacious cruiser, it's not bad. For someone who needs to cart around a bit of gear, and still have a couple of luxuries, it'll do the job quite well.

CarAdvice Overall Rating:

How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go:


  • Engine: 3564cc, north-south V6-cylinder
  • Power: 180kW @ 6000rpm
  • Torque: 330Nm @ 2600rpm
  • Induction: Naturally aspirated multi-point injection DOHC
  • Transmission: Four-speed automatic
  • Top Speed: N/A
  • 0-100km/h: 10.5 seconds
  • 0-400m: Not tested
  • Fuel Consumption: 11.1L/100km (Combined)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 73 litres
  • Fuel Type: 91RON petrol
  • ANCAP rating: Four star
  • Airbags: Front, Side, Seat & Curtain
  • Safety: ABS, DTCS, EBA, EBD,
  • Spare wheel: Space saver
  • Tow capacity: 2000kg (braked)
  • Turning Circle: 11.4m
  • Warranty: 5-year/unlimited
  • Weight: 1800kg
  • Wheels: 17-inch alloy