Based on exterior looks alone the Holden WN Caprice doesn’t appear new at all. Yet inside it is completely new.
Holden’s long-wheelbase limo misses the aluminium bonnet and bootlid of its smaller VF Commodore sibling, which has been used to make the car lighter. Not even the VF’s daylight running lights make it through to the WN-series Caprice.
The Holden Caprice also no longer gets a uniquely-styled interior, instead using an identical design and trim to the shortwheelbase Calais V grade – except for the slightly different, slightly daggy ‘crested’ Holden badge long reserved for the longest Commodore variant. The Caprice V even gets the same 19-inch alloy wheels as the Calais V…
As with the interior, however, the oily bits underneath the skin of the WN Caprice share the improvements made with the VF Commodore. Aluminium suspension knuckles and lower control arms, aluminium cockpit beam, and reworked suspension are all borrowed over – more on that later. At 1851kg, the Caprice V is now 22kg lighter than the previous WM-series, although that is some way short of the 43kg saved on the base VF Commodore Evoke.
Also following the Holden VF Commodore range, prices are down on the Caprice line-up, but in this case by a whopping $10,000 for each of the two variants.
Kicking off is the Holden Caprice ($54,990) with an LPG-fuelled version of the 3.6-litre V6, which understandably targets the fleet and Silver Service taxi markets.
It is essentially specified like the $39,990 Holden VF Calais, lacking the kit found in both the Calais V and Caprice V, including forward collision alert, lane departure warning, blind spot alert, colour head-up display, leather sports steering wheel, rain sensing wipers, heated exterior mirrors, Bose audio, electric sunroof and driver’s seat memory. The LPG V6-engined Caprice also scores 18-inch alloy wheels, though it at least gets eight-speaker ‘enhanced’ audio, push-button start and satellite navigation over its $15K-cheaper Calais sibling.
The $59,990 Gen IV V8-powered V Series is the private buyer’s Caprice. Despite sharing all the aforementioned equipment of the Calais V, and adding twin seat-mounted DVD screens, the surcharge for lots of extra legroom and boot space is now just $5000 like-for-like.
Despite no longer sharing a unique design, in isolation the Caprice interior is superb – and a huge improvement on the old one.
The dash trim panel and door strip are laced with soft-touch suede-like inserts, while the high-resolution touchscreen and soft mood lighting looks ‘premium’ in a way the old Caprice never did. Arguably, however, the old Caprice’s consistently matched soft-touch door and dash plastics – which replaced the bathmat-style rubber of the VE Commodore – feel superior to the hard plastic used atop the new dashboard.
The Caprice also receives the latest technology developed specifically for the VF Commodore. The tech inventory includes Holden’s MyLink Infotainment System with embedded apps including Pandora and Stitcher Smartradio, full Bluetooth phone and music streaming including Siri Eyes Free and enhanced voice recognition for phone, navigation and audio control.
All the latest safety kit from the VF is there too, including Auto Park Assist for parallel and right angle parking, Reverse Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Alert and front and rear parking sensors with rear-view camera. Caprice V adds Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning to its crash-avoidance inventory.
The LPG-only 3.6-litre V6 is the old non-direct-injected engine, which produces 180kW at 6000rpm and 320Nm at 2000rpm. Although it gets a larger 84.4 litre fuel tank compared with the 71-litre petrol V8, cargo space stays pegged at 531 litres, 35L more than a Commodore. But you'll have to do without a spare wheel.
Unfortunately the LPG Caprice was unavailable to test, but it apparently benefits from a revised auto calibration and increased firewall sound deadening.
The Caprice V we tested uses the same 260kW/517Nm 6.0-litre petrol V8 carried over from the previous iteration, and we can confirm it is quieter, while the retuned six-speed automatic is smoother.
Fuel consumption has improved across the Caprice range, with the V8 falling from 12.3 litres per 100km to 11.7L/100km and the LPG from 12.3L/100km to 12.1L/100km for a 4.9 to 2.0 per cent improvement, respectively.
Ride quality is also improved, with the Caprice benefiting from the revised (softest-setting) FE1 suspension. There’s significantly more compliance in the suspension and more composure overall at freeway speeds.
The Caprice also uses the 'Touring' electric power steering tune, which is quicker and more direct than the previous WM-series. Turn-in is crisper, while there’s less body roll through the bends than before. Curiously, the Caprice V gets a standard limited slip differential, which is unavailable on Evoke, Calais and Calais V.
Holden buyers with the deepest pockets should arguably expect more improvement – or even the same improvement – compared with cheaper models, yet the WN Caprice lacks the styling changes and some of the lightweight technologies reserved for the cheaper VF Commodore.
While that is disappointing, the WN Caprice still provides the most rear legroom by miles for under $60,000, and is now quieter, more plush inside, and more dynamic than before.
It is possible to feel the difference. It just isn’t possible to see it from the outside…