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If cars suffered from identity crises, then the all-new ZB Holden Commodore would spend much of its life in therapy asking the question, ‘Who – and what – am I, exactly?’.
Decried and denigrated since landing on our shores from Germany earlier this year, the Opel Insignia-based flag bearer for Holden hasn’t been met with acclaim. Certainly not by those with an eye for nostalgia and a lament for the loss of our local manufacturing industry.
So let’s do away with nostalgia, and let’s not dwell on whether the ZB Commodore is worthy of the nameplate. Instead, let’s live with a new Holden Commodore for three months to see how it stacks up as a car in its own right, and not as some misty-eyed metaphor for what we’ve lost as a nation.
Lining up in the CarAdvice garage is the Holden Commodore RS, the second model in the nine-model liftback line-up (there are a further six Sportwagon variants for a 15-model range). Think of it as an old Commodore Omega, not quite taxi spec, and filled with enough niceties to make your daily commute pleasant.
Priced at $37,290 plus on-road costs, the Commodore RS is powered by a 2.0-litre, turbocharged inline four-cylinder petrol engine with 191kW of power and 350Nm of torque. Sending that power and torque to the front wheels is a nine-speed automatic transmission.
To put those outputs into context, the last Aussie-made Commodore, the VF II in Evoke trim, made 185kW and 290Nm from its 3.0-litre naturally aspirated V6. And in the interests of the new Commodore’s identity crisis, that is the last reference we will make to the car it replaces.
What we can’t ignore, though, is another piece of the new Commodore’s identity-crisis puzzle. What is it exactly?
It’s classified as a large sedan, going head-to-head against the Kia Stinger and Skoda Superb. And that’s it. Here’s the rub, though. In every regard, the ZB Commodore is a medium sedan playing in the same sandpit as the Toyota Camry and Mazda 6.
With a wheelbase of 2829mm, the Commodore is just 4mm (yep, less than half-a-centimetre) shorter than the 2018 Toyota Camry. Meanwhile, the Mazda 6’s wheelbase measures in at 2830mm, 1mm longer than the Holden. Not much in it, then. Still, it’s classified as a large sedan, so a large sedan it is, guaranteeing more visits to the car shrink for the ZB.
The Commodore RS might be only on the second-rung up the nine-step Commodore liftback ladder, but that’s not to say it’s a povvo-pack stripper. The list of standard inclusions is long…
- Six airbags (driver, passenger, side and curtain)
- Electronic stability control (ESC)
- Front and rear park assist
- Rear-view camera
- LED daytime running lamps
- Auto headlights
- Advanced park assist
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Active bonnet
- Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Lane-departure warning
- Lane-keep assist
- Forward collision alert
- Following distance indicator
- Blind-spot alert
- Rear cross-traffic alert
Comfort and Convenience
- Cruise control (with speed limiter)
- Keyless entry and push-button start
- Dual-zone climate control
- 60/40 split-fold flat rear seat
- LED tail-lights
- Eight-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat
- 7.0-inch colour touchscreen
- Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
- USB outlet
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Sports body kit (front fascia and skirts)
- Sports cloth seat trim
- Sports front seats
- Sports leather steering wheel
- Rear lip spoiler
- Ambient lighting
Our long-termer presents as a pleasing and well-equipped package, if a little bland, finished in Summit White paint. It’s a nicely proportioned car, and that swooping liftback profile lends it a sporting air. Musculature? There isn’t any, unless you count the rear lip spoiler.
The ZB Commodore wears a five-star ANCAP rating awarded to its Opel/Vauxhall siblings in Europe in 2017. And all Commodores sold post-July 1 now come standard with Holden's five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty. Service intervals are 12 months or every 12,000km, whichever comes first. Under Holden's capped-price servicing plan, the first five years will set you back $1535, or just over $300 per year.
Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be putting the Commodore RS through what we believe is a typical-use scenario. We’ll trundle around town, commuting to work through peak-hour traffic, dropping kids to school and hitting the shops.
And we’ll munch some miles on the highway, too, to see how the family hauler copes with long road trips – once a rite of passage for large-sized family sedans in Australia. In between, we’ll dive into its interior and fiddle around with the infotainment, and generally report on what Holden’s flagship is like to live with day-to-day.