The Holden Statesman is one of those cars that you don't feel right driving on your own. It’s a massive car that doesn't feel complete without a horde of passengers and luggage.
It's over $100,000 cheaper than its nearest German competitor.
- 2009 Holden WM Statesman; 3.6-litre, six-cylinder, petrol; six-speed automatic; sedan - $63,990*
I’ll promise you from the outset that this isn’t one of those ‘the fish was this big’ stories. The Holden Statesman truly is huge. It’s any wonder a large portion of Holden’s Statesman and Caprice sales go toward hire cars, even our PM uses them – so they can’t be that bad.
The Holden Statesman is one of those cars that you don’t feel right driving on your own. It’s a massive car that doesn’t feel complete without a horde of passengers and luggage.
While Holden has inserted its new SIDI engine into the V6 Statesman and Caprice line-up, the exterior design remains identical.
Long LED indicator stems, along with a brash front and rear end define the Holden Statesman as an executive’s car. It certainly has presence on the road and looked elegant in the Karma metallic paint job.
Likewise with the exterior, the interior remains unchanged. From the moment you open the driver’s door, it’s obvious the Holden Statesman has been tailored with luxury and prestige in mind.
Lashings of wood grain encrust the interior panels, in addition to silver metallic highlights. Unfortunately the dull black overtones, which appear all too often inside the cabin, tend to bore in a hurry.
Most manufacturers these days are mounting LCD screens higher in the cabin so the driver isn’t forced to look down and take their eyes off the road for longer than necessary. Unfortunately Holden is yet to change this characteristic trait, which is one of the interior’s main shortcomings.
The myriad of buttons alongside the LCD also become confusing at times, at least until the driver is used to their whereabouts. One other confusing aspect is the optional satellite navigation. They say that patience is a virtue and is well and truly necessary when attempting to enter in an address.
Fiddly controls and slow response makes using the satellite navigation a mind numbing task, especially when it believes the street you’re entering doesn’t exist.
Holden has managed to improve the sound system on offer also. When the VE Commodore was first released, it was one of the Statesman’s strongest flaws. Now the sound system offers plenty of bass (without the rattling and distortion that once existed) and precise treble.
Interior room is bound to astonish anyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to sit in the front or rear of a Holden Statesman. Leg room and head room in the front is impressive, even for tall adults. It’s when you make your way to the rear seats that it becomes astonishing. Even for somebody of a tall stature like me can comfortably sink into the seats and stretch out.
Shoulder room allows three adults to sit abreast without feeling like they are sitting on top of each other.
This is one of the main reasons the Holden Statesman and Caprice are so popular amongst hire car companies. Compared to a non-L 7 Series, A8 and S-Class, the Statesman and Caprice offer superior leg room. You need to option the long-wheel-base on either of the aforementioned before they offer similar amounts of leg and head room.
Behind the wheel, the package is let down by a tired six-speed automatic gearbox. Holden’s new 3.6-litre SIDI engine produces 210kW and 350Nm of torque, which is more than sufficient to move the entire package.
The six-speed automatic gearbox offers a lethargic response when an urgent gear shift is beckoned, in addition to minor hunting during inclines and declines.
I found on occasion when power was needed immediately, the gearbox would dawdle and only then grab the right gear, wasting precious seconds.
The engine itself is a pearler offering adequate torque and fantastic mid-range power delivery. If it wasn’t for the gearbox getting in the way of things, it wouldn’t be anywhere as near of a critical assessment.
Sitting at the helm of the Holden Statesman is a leisurely task. Forward and side visibility is good (except for the massive A-pillars), but rearward visibility is limited due to the high boot-line. Rear parking sensors are standard, which helps when reversing.
The suspension is very soft and offers a luxury feel to the ride. It does have substantial body roll which rears its head during sweeping and tight corners. The demographic for this vehicle probably won’t care so much about the latter though.
Steering feel is accurate, while brake pedal feel is abysmal. Pedal travel is far greater than necessary and feedback through the pedal is limited to say the least.
Holden claims a fuel consumption figure of 10.3-L/100km; I was able to better this on test, returning an average fuel consumption of 9.5-L/100km. This was after a 70/30 highway/city split.
Standard features include: Central locking, dual-zone climate control, electric windows, electric mirrors, auto-dimming rear vision mirror, heated wing mirrors, six-disc CD player, leather seats, eight-way power driver’s seat, four-way power passenger seat, automatic headlights, automatic windscreen wipers, fog lights and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Standard safety features include: Electronic Stability Control (ESC), driver and front seat passenger SRS airbags, driver and front seat passenger side airbags, full length curtain airbags, engine immobiliser and pyrotechnic seatbelt pretensioners.
Starting at $63,990, the Holden Statesman is good value for money if you’re after a vehicle capable of moving passengers in luxury. The engine is let down by a dismal gearbox, but doesn’t do much else wrong.
The Statesman is still $100,000 short of its nearest German competitor (the Audi A8) and it’s hard to imagine any reason why you would consider spending an additional $100,000 for a brand name. The Statesman offers just as much for over half the price.
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