Advice

CarAdvice adds to extended test fleet

Santa has dropped into the CarAdvice offices early, delivering three additional cars to our extended test fleet.
Holden Commodore SS
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The three new additions are:

Click on each car to read our experiences during the first week.

Holden Commodore SS AFM - David Twomey

Well the garage at the CarAdvice bunker has swelled in the past week with Holden adding a yet to be released Commodore SS V8 AFM - that's Active Fuel Management - to our extended test fleet.

Not to be outdone the Blue Oval has thrown in an also yet to be released Ford Fiesta Zetec five-door, which Road Test Editor Matt Brogan will have a few things to say about over the coming month. Likewise, Paul Maric is handling the Saab 93 Aero TTiD to which we have also been thrown the keys.

‘Big Blue’ as I’ve affectionately dubbed the Commodore joined our ranks in an 6am pick up from Holden HQ in Fishermans Bend – do those PR people every sleep, well yes they do but the security guards don’t – and then it headed to the airport to spend the next two days sitting in the long-term car park while I headed over to Adelaide to get acquainted with the new Ford Fiesta range.

Since then we’ve been doing a lot of commuting and a few country runs to my home outside Melbourne, all of which has seen one tank of fuel disappear and provided some initial statistics on this attempt by the Red Lion to make its 6.0-litre, 270kW and 530Nm V8 engine a little more economical.

Our car is a 2009 model Commodore SS V8 with blue metallic paint ($500), onyx leather seats ($2500) and a full-size spare wheel and tyre ($350) all of which added to the base price of $47,790 to bring it to a total price of $51,140.

When we collected the car it had been thoughtfully run in by the GM Holden PR crew and had 2743 kilometres on the odometer and after adding 474.74 kilometres to that total we found that it needed 64.20 litres of petrol to top up the tank.

That all means that for our initial week in the car we achieved 13.52 litres per 100 kilometres.

Back in August when Alborz Fallah did his own personal fuel economy run in a Commodore SS we noted that Holden said the six-speed automatic SS Commodore would manage 14.3L/100km for a combined city and highway cycle.

At the end of his run, despite some unscheduled and fuel consuming delays, he managed 13.5L/100km, so where does that leave Holden’s claim that AFM is worth at least 1.0L/100km?

We need to spend a few more weeks with ‘Big Blue’ to decide on that.

Holden has been a little sketchy on information provided to the media about the new system and so far all we have is one press release which gives a broad outline of the system.

GM Holden will introduce the technology on all its automatic transmission V8 models from January 2009 and says “AFM, or cylinder deactivation, enables an eight cylinder vehicle to automatically operate on four cylinders in certain driving conditions, before restoring full power when engine demands increase.

The extent of its technical description at the moment is; “GM Holden’s AFM system is designed to improve fuel efficiency when high output is not required.

In certain conditions such as highway driving, AFM automatically closes the intake and exhaust valves in four of the engine’s eight cylinders while ensuring the engine maintains vehicle speed, effectively operating as a four cylinder.

The engine's electronic throttle control is used to increase cylinder pressure in V4 mode so that the engine can preserve the torque, which drivers expect from a V8 powertrain.

The fuel supply to the deactivated cylinders will resume seamlessly providing all-cylinder operation when the driver needs it for quick acceleration, or for hauling heavy loads.

In the near future we plan to have a chat to some Holden technicians about the system to gain a better understanding of the intricacies of just how it all works.

Ford Fiesta Zetec - Matt Brogan

As small cars go, the recipe is usually pretty straight forward, and if I may be so blunt, is usually rather basic. Not so this time around. In fact the new Fiesta is just terrific.

I’ve only had the keys for a few days so far and it’s true what they say about first impressions – fortunately Ford has made a damned good one with this little number.

It drives exceptionally well, far better than a small car should. Every thing is fluid, responsive and smooth from the steering to the clutch and gearbox to the brakes – not to mention the hearty little 1.6-litre engine.

Although on paper 88kW at 6000rpm might not seem a lot, the light weight body and 152Nm of torque from 4050rpm certainly help keep the pace on, as does the slick shifting five-speed gearbox.

Cornering is stable, fast and a lot of fun with sharp and accurate steering that responds instantaneously to input with perfect reaction from the chassis, exemplary for a small front wheel drive.

Though it’s early days, and with mostly highway cruising to date the fuel consumption figures are a little biased, however I am achieving mid 5.0 litres per 100km at the minute, which is very pleasing considering the CarAdvice accountant is on holidays.

With pricing for the range-topping Zetec from $20,250 this is the best small car I have driven this year and is an absolute hoot as well.

I love the styling, it has a lot of space and technologically it has just about every option you could wish for in a car of this price range – and then some.

I’ll be back with an update in a week or so but until then, be sure to have yourself a safe and happy holiday.

Saab 93 Aero TTiD - Paul Maric

While David and Matt are getting around in cars which will sell in their thousands, I’ve gone for the conservative option.

I’ve been handed the Saab 93 Aero TTiD. The Aero TTiD is Saab’s all new twin-turbo diesel model in a sport chassis.

The luxurious leather interior and premium components make it a conservative cruiser. We drove the six-speed automatic TTiD earlier in the year and were a bit miffed with the fuel consumption and characteristics of the gearbox.

This time around, it’s the six-speed manual and only three weeks in, it’s already showing impressive fuel consumption figures.

It’s extremely driveable and is a pleasure to take on long distances drives.

Fuel consumption so far is sitting at 5.4-litres/100km, which is a combined cycle of highway and city (mainly highway at the moment). Our silver Swede will see some more highway kays around Christmas before it gets relegated to city duties.

Stay tuned for more information on the Saab 93 Aero TTiD, so far, I’m very impressed!