We already know the new European-designed Holden Commodore is smaller than the Aussie-built large sedan it has replaced, in our minds, if not our hearts. The question is, how much smaller? And will you really notice?
And at first sitting, not really. There’s still ample room for four adults to travel in comfort. Yes, there’s less head and shoulder room than in the previous-generation car, but in terms of knee room, it’s on a par with the VF II.
Up front, the driver scores an eight-way electrically adjustable seat with adjustable lumbar support, while the passenger has to make do with manual adjustment. Finished in what Holden calls Jet Black cloth trim, the seats are supportive and comfortable. That trim, while not oozing in premium, still looks and feels pretty decent for what is essentially the second rung up the ZB Commodore ladder.
The overall design of the cabin is contemporary, with harmonious lines that curve into each other holistically. The overall impression is of an enveloping space that draws you in and cocoons you from the outside world. Pity, then, that some of the materials used are a bit low-rent, with plastic the dominant touchpoint.
There are chrome highlights that lend a touch of class, some faux double-stitching, and a smattering of piano black to break up the sea of dark.
The multi-function steering wheel is trimmed in leather and feels quite nice in hand; it’s flat-bottomed too, because, you know, sporty.
There’s also a sense of familiarity to some of the switchgear, especially on the steering wheel, which look like they have come straight out of the ‘must use up these parts’ bin in Elizabeth, South Australia, and shipped over to Rüsselsheim, Germany.
The 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen anchoring the infotainment isn’t the last word in modernity. The display is clear but the rear-view camera errs on the side of grainy.
The whole system feels a generation old. And there’s no integrated sat-nav, so owners will have to rely on smartphone mirroring – both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on tap – while connecting via Bluetooth was quick and painless.
The instrument cluster is another area that feels a little dated in the ZB Commodore, especially with the 3.5-inch mono driver display screen nestled between the two analogue dials.
That TFT screen looks like it’s been lifted straight out of the earlier VE Commodore, and it was dated back then.
There’s dual-zone climate control with traditional dials to control the HVAC functions; a pleasing touch in an age when more and more carmakers are leaving those controls to the touchscreen.
A single USB point and a lone 12V outlet up front are probably below par these days, when manufacturers are increasingly including at least two USB outlets up front.
There’s a slightly asymmetrical design to the centre console, with a raised buttress on the passenger side, making it potentially a little awkward to access those charging points. It’s a minor thing.
While the front offers plenty of comfort for both driver and passenger, it’s in the back row where the ZB Commodore’s smaller dimensions really start to be felt.
Despite being marketed as a large car, the Euro import is in every measure smaller than the Commodore it replaces.
That said, the back row remains roomy enough for two people, but three across would be a squeeze. The reality is, though, that people who have regular need for carrying five were unlikely to have bought a VF II, just as they are unlikely to get into a ZB.
There are separate air vents in the back, although no individual climate controls, and unlike front-seat riders, back-row passengers have two USB points at their disposal. Those seats fold in a 40/60 split fashion to free up boot space.
Thanks to its liftback styling, the ZB can carry 490L with the back row in play, while folding that second row flat sees that capacity increase to 1450L, which is actually more than the VF II.
As a holistic thing, the cabin is a decent execution of the large-sedan formula. Sure, in this near entry-level RS spec, the ZB misses out on some key items such as wireless phone charging, digital radio, and a 360-degree camera.
Models up the range ladder also benefit from more upmarket materials and trims, but, as a circa $36K large sedan, the 2018 Holden Commodore RS stacks up pretty well.
2018 Holden Commodore RS