It's longer than a Toyota LandCruiser and trusted by many Prime Ministers. We slip behind the wheel of the Holden Caprice V to see if it still has what it takes.
There was a time when the Holden Caprice and Ford LTD were both the poshest forms of transport on the block. In fact, I remember one time when my best friend’s dad brought home a VSII Caprice with a 5.0-litre V8 — I'd assumed they had hit the jackpot.
Leap forward to today and the Statesman name has been axed and the LPG V6 dropped in favour of a single specification and engine offering. Now, the Holden Caprice V is the only long-wheelbase Holden on the market and is powered by the mighty 6.2-litre V8 LS3 engine.
At 5160mm it’s longer than a Toyota LandCruiser and is the emergency exit row of the Aussie automotive world. Aside from now using two single exhaust outlets, a new bootlip spoiler and new 19-inch alloy wheels, the exterior of the revised Caprice V remains unchanged.
Likewise, the price remains unchanged at $60,490 (plus on roads), making it one of the most affordable luxury sedans on the market. It’s only nipped by the Hyundai Genesis, which is priced at $60,000, though that car sits almost 200mm shorter than the locally grown Caprice V.
The familiar design features chrome highlights at the front, rear and sides, along with high-intensity discharge headlights with washers. It also still proudly carries the signature wreath-wrapped Holden badge that has adorned the front end of the Statesman and Caprice for years.
Inside the cabin, the Caprice V uses the elegant interior from the VF Commodore range. Chrome highlights and suede-esque materials wrap around the dashboard, while a generous centre console and large eight-inch MyLink touchscreen infotainment system are visual draw cards.
The leather seats feature the same suede-esque material striped along them, in addition to an eight-way power adjustment for the driver and front passenger, including an easy-exit feature that slides the seat backward on exit.
Rear seat passengers arguably have the best deal, with absolute masses of leg, head and shoulder room. There is enough room for a tall adult to stretch their feet out and sink into the seat. Entry and egress is also easy too thanks to wide opening doors — it’s little surprise that the Prime Minister’s official transport was the Caprice for over a decade.
Cargo capacity is rated at an impressive 535 litres, making it big enough to carry a considerable amount of luggage. Unfortunately, like the Commodore, the second row doesn’t fold to allow access to the boot. The only opening is a small ski port.
There’s barely a missed feature on the Caprice V. It comes with an impressive nine-speaker Bose sound system that features auxiliary input, Bluetooth audio streaming and Pandora and Stitcher connectivity. The sound system is great and befitting of a vehicle in this segment.
Rear seat passengers also get two embedded DVD screens that mate with wireless headphones to allow movies to play. The main infotainment screen can also play movies while the car is stationary.
Other standard features include: remote vehicle start; proximity key entry and start; satellite navigation; voice recognition; a reversing camera; front and rear parking sensors; forward collision alert; a heads up display; lane departure warning; blind spot alert; reverse traffic alert; cruise control; automatic headlights and wipers; semi-automatic parking; dual-zone climate control; sunroof and six airbags.
Weighing a little over 1800kg, the Caprice V is no lightweight. Its 3009mm wheelbase also makes the rear feel like a moving counterweight at times. But, it’s only noticeable when pushing the Caprice V closer to its limits — something owners would rarely ever want to or need to do.
The 6.2-litre LS3 V8 engine produces an impressive 304kW of power and 570Nm of torque. It’s mated to the Caprice V’s six-speed automatic transmission and uses a combined 12.9L/100km – around 10 per cent, or 1.2L/100km more than the outgoing 6.0-litre V8 engine.
While it may seem like a lot, the added pep in its step is well worth the extra fuel use. The Caprice V now feels energetic and responsive off the line and manages to keep piling on speed at the times the old car would begin tapering off.
The LS3 works well with the six-speed automatic to deliver low-end torque without having to hunt through gears. It also delivers a sonorous engine note to match. But, it does miss out on the bi-modal exhaust system and interior noise enhancer fitted to the V8 Commodore sedan range.
If you ever wanted to attack the racetrack in the Caprice V, it can be optioned with a performance brake option, which delivers larger diameter rotors for just $350. It also comes with a limited-slip differential as standard, which is pretty cool.
An electrically assisted steering rack is perfectly weighted and makes the Caprice V fun to drive. The steering rack offers plenty of feel and feedback through the wheel. But, it’s let down by a spongy brake pedal that doesn’t offer enough communication.
The ride errs on the side of sporty, which is partly thanks to the standard 19-inch alloy wheels and lower 40 profile rubber that measures 245mm wide on all four corners.
The sportiness of the ride can be a little too firm at times, especially when hitting sharp bumps and potholes. The longer wheelbase means that it really needs a firmer setup to help it settle following continuous bumps and undulations, which would regularly cause a car this size to wallow.
After spending a week with the Caprice V and covering almost over 500km, I was really impressed with how it held up and how fun it was to drive. It’s a testament to Australian engineering and is proof that we have the goods to take it to the world stage.
The 2016 Holden Caprice V will go down in history as one of the best bang for your buck big cars we’re ever likely to see. If you are still in the market for a big car that can tow up to 2100kg with a braked trailer, look no further.
Click on the Photos tab to see more images of the 2016 Holden Caprice V by Tom Fraser.