It’s one of the most popular and best-selling cars in Australian history and it’s not hard to see why. Manufactured in Australia since 1978, the Holden Commodore built on the solid foundations of the hugely successful Kingswood nameplate.
Built as a five-door sedan, five-door station wagon or two-door utility, the Holden Commodore range is currently available with a six- or eight-cylinder petrol engine, or a six-cylinder LPG alternative. Gearbox choices comprise a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission – depending on specific variant.
The Commodore range starts at $35,490 with the Commodore Evoke.
Available exclusively with a six-speed automatic, the entry-level Evoke is fitted with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine producing 185kW of power and 290Nm of torque. Together, the combination claims an impressive 8.3 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.
If more space is required, a larger Evoke Sportwagon can be had for an additional $2000.
Employing the same engine and gearbox as the sedan, the Evoke Sportwagon increases boot capacity by just shy of 400 litres over the sedan – from 496L to a mammoth 895L. The added storage capacity comes at a price, however, with claimed fuel consumption rising to 8.6L/100km.
Starting at $37,990, the Evoke can be had with a 180kW/320Nm 3.6-litre six-cylinder powered by LPG. Offering less power but more torque than the 3.0-litre petrol, the LPG’s extra grunt sees claimed fuel consumption climb again to 11.5L/100km – though obviously costs are kept in check by lower gas prices compared with regular or premium unleaded fuel.
Despite sitting at the base of the Holden Commodore range, the Evoke presents well enough thanks to standard halogen projector headlights, front and rear parking sensors, keyless start and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, Evoke variants come with dual-zone climate control, a six-speaker stereo with Bluetooth phone pairing and audio steaming and an eight-inch MyLink colour touchscreen with voice recognition.
Other key features include electrically assisted steering, semi-automatic parking and front and rear power windows. On the safety front, every Commodore comes with six airbags, electronic stability control and trailer sway control.
The interior is well presented, although some elements of the Evoke feel a little low-rent. The steering wheel and seats feel a little cheap, but the quality of materials is forgiven when you see how much room is on offer.
Part of the reason the Commodore has been so successful over the years is the amount of room consistently offered within the cabin. And in 2015 VF-spec, front seat passengers have loads of leg and headroom, while those in the back can easily stretch out in comfort.
Behind the wheel, the six-cylinder petrol engine provides a happy balance between fuel economy and performance. The six-speed automatic glides through gears and makes use of the engine’s available torque.
The entry-level 3.0-litre can feel lethargic at times, though, with decent revs often required for overtaking manoeuvres – a trait accentuated with a car load of passengers.
Praised since the VF platform launched in 2013, the Commodore’s electrically assisted steering is now standard across the model range and features excellent tuning to provide maximum feel.
The same goes for the suspension tuning. The Evoke sits on higher 60-profile tyres that soften the ride, but even on bigger-wheeled higher-specced models, there are still great deals of compliance and comfort.
With all 3.0-litre Evoke variants, along with all manual models, rated with a 1600kg towing capacity, when it comes to hitching a load to the back, the Commodore range has all bases covered. Need more? All other automatic Commodores boast a 2100kg braked capacity – great news for buyers in need of a tow vehicle that isn't an SUV.
One of the consistently best-selling Commodores in the range is the sporty SV6. Coming with a more powerful 210kW/350Nm 3.6-litre six-cylinder petrol engine, the SV6 starts from $36,790 in six-speed manual form.
Opting for a six-speed automatic sedan will cost you a further $2200 and topping the line-up is the $40,990 SV6 Sportwagon – exclusively available with the auto.
More performance brings higher fuel consumption with the SV6 claiming 9L/100km in sedan form and 9.3L/100km in Sportwagon guise.
Boasting a sportier exterior, SV6 Commodores come standard with LED daytime running lights, a body kit to emphasise the models’ credentials and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The interior also feels more upmarket with a chunky leather-wrapped steering wheel and body-hugging seats.
Keen drivers will appreciate the engaging drive the six-speed manual offers, with its notchy, short-throw gearbox giving drivers the best opportunity to really stretch the SV6’s legs.
Torque is delivered swiftly and easily, with heavier throttle inputs accompanied by a noisy engine note at the top-end of the rev band.
The same can be said for the six-speed automatic, which also works well with the larger capacity engine. The automatic SV6 seldom hunts for gears and manages to use higher gears to its advantage, largely avoiding nasty kick downs.
In terms of ride and handling, the SV6 has been tuned to deliver a firmer ride to match its more sporting image. Noticeably firmer than the Evoke, it’s not over the top and remains very comfortable over city and country roads alike.
Starting from $42,990, the entry-point into a ‘proper’ V8 Commodore is the SS. With a mighty 6.0-litre eight-cylinder petrol engine crammed under its bonnet, the SS offers up to 270kW of power and 530Nm of torque.
These outputs are reserved for six-speed manual models, however, with dearer six-speed auto-equipped SSs settling for 260kW and 517Nm. This reduction is due to Holden’s Active Fuel Management (AFM) system, which deactivates cylinders under certain circumstances in a bid to reduce fuel consumption.
As with the Evoke and SV6, an automatic Sportwagon variant is available, with prices starting at $47,190. Upgrading from six to eight cylinders does impact fuel consumption, with both the SS sedan and SS wagon claiming figures of 11.5L/100km (manual and auto) and 11.7L/100km respectively.
The SS builds on the SV6 by providing even more punch and a meatier engine note – both further enhancing the driving experience. There is seldom any hesitation under throttle and the car feels more comfortable when thrown into corners at speed.
Brake pedal and steering feel remain excellent and complement the well-engineered chassis.
Buyers after more kit in their V8 Commodore can opt to spec up to the Commodore SS V, which starts from $46,490 in six-speed manual form and $48,690 for the six-speed automatic. Again, a six-speed automatic Sportwagon variant tops the range, this time setting you back $50,690.
All SS V variants come with keyless entry and start, leather seats, satellite navigation, automatic headlights, alloy-faced pedals, and larger 19-inch alloy wheels.
The ride on the 19s is a little firmer than in the SV6, but it remains compliant and plenty comfortable. Undoubtedly the VF Commodore range’s sweet spot, if the SS V doesn’t offer you enough bells and whistles, there’s always the range-topping SS V Redline.
Priced from $52,490, the flagship Holden Commodore SS V Redline is available in manual and automatic sedan variants and, yet again, an auto-only Sportwagon.
The SS V Redline adds a head-up display, Brembo brakes, firmer sport-tuned suspension, lane departure warning, forward collision alert, automatic windscreen wipers and a nine-speaker premium Bose sound system. Automatic models also feature steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The Holden Commodore range is as extensive as it is flexible. Whether you’re after an entry-level sedan or an all-out performance station wagon, there’s a Commodore to suit your needs.
The local Lion’s long-standing large car is not just a smartly equipped and specced proposition, it remains one of the best driving and handling cars on the market today. The Australian-made Holden Commodore’s days may be numbered, but it’s most definitely still a vehicle worth considering.