When I bought the VZ Calais, I knew I was stepping into uncharted territory. Still, I pushed on and the end result is a happy owner with a happy car.
It's been nearly three months since I posted my last review, and since I sold my beloved Nissan Pulsar to my parents in Adelaide. Now living interstate in our nation's capital, I decided that I was going to purchase one of my dream cars.
There are many reasons as to why this car is my dream car, and those reasons are essentially the review of this VZ Calais. As the last model to use the European Opel-based drivetrain, the VZ was also the first to introduce a range of new features. Essentially an update and a technically Series 3 of the VY, the VZ Calais was given a much needed and well-deserved face lift. Gone was the subtle appearance of the previous VY.
The Calais gained a more aggressive look to the bodykit. An all-new front bumper with small lips/flares, smoked-out background on the headlights, chroming around the fog lamps, on the bonnet and partially on the headlights, all attributed to the unique nose of the Calais.
Speaking of unique, how about those nice 17-inch alloy rims that (unlike the VYII Calais) were only features on the VZ. Since we're on the side of the Calais, there is also a nice chrome door strip and chroming around the window seals. Also on the side of the vehicle is the unique 'Calais' badging, which the VZ was the last to feature this up until the VFII Calais was produced.
The rear has also been treated to a unique look. The rear tail-lights have the backing smoked out, there's a chrome boot garnish for where the numberplate sits, and if factory-fitted (like mine) there is a rear spoiler with chroming on the top. Overall, the car still looks fresh, and in my opinion it hasn't dated at all. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it looks better than the VE and VF, and far better than the ZB.
If you thought that was long, then you're in for a ride now.
The interior is amazing, with regard to both its design and the materials used. There are hard scratchy plastics, but only down in the footwell and partially on the doors. The dash is a soft-touch plastic that follows on to the front and rear doors. Also, there is leather padding on the doors where your arms would rest and a very premium look and feel to the fabric on the doors.
The seats are full black leather and in great condition. The front seats are electric with driver's memory, you get dual-zone climate control, rear air-vents, a six-stack CD player, factory-fitted Nokia Bluetooth (which works with the latest iPhone), all electric windows and mirrors, nice courtesy interior lights, a premium three-screen gauge cluster that you can change to display anything from average fuel to even a digital speedo.
Safety is also key, and this car isn't short of that. The Calais features four airbags (front and side impact), ABS, ESP, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, warning chimes for when the handbrake isn't fully unlocked and for when the driver's seatbelt hasn't been put on, and braking assist.
Power comes from a 3.6-litre 190kW/340Nm V6 mated to a five-speed auto transmission driving the rear wheels. The engine is responsive and doesn't have to work hard to get you going. The five-speed auto is a massive benefit, and works very well when driving the Calais calmly. But when you need to overtake a truck or a slow car, the auto needs to hunt for the gears and knocks back pretty hard. Nevertheless, it is a good transmission, and it is made even better with the addition of paddle-shifters that allow for a sportier experience.
Fuel economy isn't great, and it is far from that. On average, the Calais gets about 12L/100km, which means about 450km per tank. Coupled with the high fuel prices in Canberra, and the fact that only premium goes in the tank, you're looking at around $95 per tank.
If I had to say what I dislike, it would be the fuel economy (mainly), but also the lack of on-board technology. An AUX connection would have benefited the Calais, plus the addition of all-auto windows. There are also occasional problems with the key. Sometimes it doesn't lock or unlock the car. It might be the key battery, but from what I've been told even that's a pain to replace.
Apart from the above, the Calais is a great car for anyone in the market for a premium sports car. With the VZ you don't need a V8. In fact, as much as I love a good V8, I would say just get the V6. It's far more economical, has a better transmission, it's easier to find one for sale at a good price and with good kays, and it still has grunt when you need it. Plus, you can't go wrong with paddle-shifters, they're awesome.
I'm yet to fully fall for my new car, and I still miss my trusty Pulsar, but I am definitely loving every moment in the Calais. And for what they offer at the price they go for, you can't go wrong with them. That's why I wanted one, and that's why it is my dream car.