You know what they say about opinions... No, not that line, the other one – 'you’re entitled to an opinion, but you’re also entitled to be wrong'. I prefer the other one for pure entertainment value to be honest, but in the instance of the new Holden Commodore, the line I’ve just written above is much more appropriate – and accurate.
Styling is subjective, and if you think the new Commodore doesn’t look great, fine. You’re entitled to that opinion. If you think the new Commodore is shit, rubbish, garbage, un-Australian, an awful car, boring, has the wrong engine (or engines), and doesn’t fit the bill, you’re also entitled to that opinion. If you’ve spent a bit of time driving it.
If you haven’t spent some time driving one, and you’re one of the clowns who has been mouthing off on anti-social media about the new Commodore, I’ve got a red-hot tip for you. Your comments are pure, unadulterated horseshit. Of the steaming, just dumped variety. The first Holden Commodore wasn't even Australian, but that's a whole other story we've delved into before. Yep, the genesis of the car Brocky drove to victory at Bathurst while beer was swilled on the mountain wasn't even Australian. I know. It hurts doesn't it? Commodore fans hate the mere mention of it.
Why does it not matter what you think if you haven't spent any time driving it? Because the new Commodore is actually a bloody good large sedan. Right up at the top of the segment, as a matter of fact. In fact, Curt Dupriez recently suggested to me during testing that if Kia wants to take its Optima to the next level, it should take a close look at the new Holden Commodore. We spent months with one in Sydney as part of our long-term fleet, and no-one, not one CarAdvice employee, said it was ‘bad’.
And, before you comment below, the mix of drivers over the course of our time with it has been weighted more toward non-editorial than just reviewers. That is, real people who buy real cars with their own money. We try to share the love with long-termers, and we were especially conscious of that with the Commodore. As you digest the various content we’ve worked on, you’ll see a recurring theme – that is, the Commodore is pretty damn good.
No, the new generation doesn’t have a V8 engine, it isn’t RWD, and it isn’t built in Australia. It is, however, screwed together better than any Australian-built Holden ever was. Just like the new, fully imported Toyota Camry is better than the previous model that was built here. Noticing a theme? The cabin design and ergonomics, ride quality, insulation, and general ambience are all better than the old Commodore ever was – and these comments are coming from someone who loved (and owned) an Aussie-built Commodore.
Dealing in facts, and with HSV excluded, around 30 per cent of Commodore sales were V8 models. You know what that means? It means that 70 per cent of Commodore buyers couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss that the car didn’t have a V8 under the bonnet. It’s that simple. So the incessant whinging about the V8 engine doesn’t really hold water either, certainly not in terms of sales volume anyway.
Unless you owned a V8-powered Commodore and were therefore in that 30 per cent of buyers, the reality is the Holden Commodore needed to be a flexible, large sedan that was comfortable, reasonably fuel-efficient, user-friendly and ergonomically well executed, with plenty of cabin and boot space.
Guess what? The new Holden Commodore does all those things better, and in real-world terms, day to day, the turbo four-cylinder is a brilliant engine. Its stop/start system is the best we’ve ever tested, the locally tuned ride and handling package is exceptional, the cabin is comfortable, flexible and spacious, and it does exactly what it says it will do on the box.
Australians are currently buying all manner of automotive conveyances in record numbers. Small SUVs (a hatch would be smarter), medium SUVs (a medium sedan or wagon would be smarter), large SUVs when they never go near a dirt road (a large sedan or wagon would be smarter), and dual-cab utes when they never use them as their maker intended, especially at the top end of the model tree.
Almost anything would be smarter than bombing around town in a jacked-up Ranger Wildtrak with $20K worth of off-road gear that never gets used hanging from it. Doesn’t stop people from buying them, though. Take fleet sales out of the equation and concentrate on the top two model grades, and it’s Ranger one, HiLux two in Australia at the moment. In the case of the HiLux, you have one of the worst-riding unladen dual-cabs on the market that most owners are driving around town unladen.
All that means Australians probably don’t know what they are talking about when it comes to buying ‘smart’ or ‘good’ cars. We haven’t even started on the methodology of buying a stripped-out Euro just for the badge cred. Or FWD SUV for that matter. Buying a car has never really been about what’s ‘good’ or 'smart'.
I’m the first to admit that a car is an emotional purchase, and I advocate buying whatever you want. It's how I've always approached any personal car purchase. I don't know that I've ever taken the smart option, to be honest. We advise people that way on our various radio platforms all the time when they ring in asking for advice. Don’t buy the better car. Buy the one you really want. It's a significant purchase. Heaven forbid we’re all trundling around in the same car like an outpost of communist Eastern Europe.
Don’t mistake your own bias for fact, though. Don’t mistake the fact that you have an opinion for assuming it is right. And don’t think that piling on with a bunch of other ‘opinion leaders’, who haven’t driven the new Commodore but think it's shit, is smart either. It’s better than the old Commodore ever was.
It doesn’t have a V8 engine and it isn’t RWD. Get over it.