This is more of a long term/update. If you would like to read my first review you can find it here. But to sum it up, the Calais is a very well made luxury sedan with features and dependability that still give it a strong position on the used car market. Now, with that out of the way, this review is an update on the Calais. A year ago I bought my VZ, and since then I’ve driven 30,000kms and visited three capital cities in her.
So whats it been like owning the VZ? Well its been a bittersweet experience, with the “sweet” outweighing any bitterness.
I’ll start with the “sweet”.
The Calais has proven to be a dependable car. As my daily, she easily completes transportation needs. The fuel economy has been the biggest downside, however I’ve learned to drive with a lighter foot. I now average around 10.5L/100kms, down from the offical 11.5L claim from Holden, and down from my original average of 12L. I easily get 500-550km per tank, which isn’t half bad for a car that spends most its time driving from the Northern end of Canberra to the Southern end every weekday. I do however, run Premium 98 from BP/Caltex.
Highway economy is where the Calais shines, of course. I average (depending on the highway and elevation, as low as 7.4L/100kms to 8.2L/100kms. While that can still be seen as “high numbers” in a car of its age and size, it’s more than acceptable. This in turn means I could get up to 900kms from a tank, but I haven’t pushed it further than 650km purely for peace of mind (actually, not wanting to run out of petrol!).
The engine, despite its reputation, has been a good unit so far with easy and fairly standard maintenance. In the city it has plenty of low-down torque to move you without needing to push the peddle much, and highway driving is even better (and smoother). The five speed auto is great on the highway, keeping revs under 2000rpm. In the city it’s good, but as mentioned in my first review, sometimes it hunts for a gear or two when you need to push the car. Servicing has also been easy and not too costly. I’ve had the Calais serviced twice by mechanics and the oil changed twice by relatives, meaning fresh oil and a new filter have been run through consistently.
Comfort is unquestionable. I recently took her on a massive road trip from Canberra to Adelaide via Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road (covering 4,500kms in the span of a week). On both the dual-carriage way (M31) and the single lane Princess Highway (A1) the ride was extremely comfortable, and the lumbar support worked wonders, saving my lower back from aching as if I was 40 years older. Road noise is minimal, even for a 13 year old Aussie car. That of course depends on the road and speed, but overall it cant be faulted.
Many people seem to like the Calais. Maybe its the subtle luxury look or they’re just being nice, but the compliment is always welcomed.
Now for the bitter.
While reliable, I’ve had to have a few things replaced. My water pump decided to go three months after purchasing the Calais, however that was covered under warranty. Not three weeks later my oil pressure sensor switch went, which left me out of pocket. Then a month or so later I had to replace the evap solenoid, which I did with a mate. After all that, the Calais (touch wood) has been fine, with only tyres and headlight bulbs needing replacement. I would not consider the car unreliable due to this.
Running costs have been another big thing that I’ve noticed when compared to my first car, a Nissan Pulsar. Of course I knew the Calais was going to cost more, but you don’t realise it until the cost becomes consistent. Everything from running the car (like tyres) to legally having it on the road (like rego costs) have been in the high triple digits. Being a P-plater who works part time and studies at Uni full time, all these costs leave my bank account looking pretty empty.
The colour of the Calais is Phantom Black, which is very nice… when clean… But within the next hour its clear that dust has settled on her. Scratches are more prominent and the paint fade, well lets say its not terrible, but it sure is noticeable. That being said, she got a good polish over the Easter Long Weekend (as well as a good service courtesy of my old man).
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the Calais. Despite the bad, the good has been more prominent. Every time I lock the car and walk away, I can’t help but look back and smile. Even behind the wheel driving home from work, I sometimes begin to smile at the thought of owning and driving the Calais. I would say that I’ve fallen in love with the car, which makes for every moment with it something special. Now to find myself a girlfriend…