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VF SV6 1700km 2 week test - Review

jimmyd17

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Ok, I thought I'd share my experience after doing nearly 1700km in a VF SV6 in a couple of weeks. (3.6 SIDI, 6 speed auto). Here is my non-biased account of what I reckoned of the new VF Holden Commodore.

When I First jumped into the car, noticed the absence of a handbrake lever and needed to push an "electric window like" switch to release it. Ok, so off I went onto the freeway. It took me a while to figure out where the cruise control switch was. It wasn't where I was expecting it compared to previous models, but easy enough to operate on the left side of steering wheel once you spot it. I didn't mind the toggle operation of the cruise switch. It allowed you to adjust your speed in 1km/h increments and it informs you on the display of what speed you're set at. I much prefer the Falcon cruise switches though, as they are less fiddly and you don't need to move your hands on the wheel to set or adjust it. The blind spot lights on the side mirrors are a welcome feature. They worked well and help to keep you aware of where the surrounding cars are, without being too intrusive.

STEERING
The electric assisted steering was very good. Much better than i expected it to be. The steering was nice and responsive from centre, and very well weighted. Perhaps a little light at low speeds for my personal preference, but still very good. At higher speeds it was excellent. I hadn't driven a VE commodore for over a year, so its hard to accurately compare the differences. The VF felt remarkably similar, and perhaps slightly sharper compared to the VE, but I think I still prefer the old hydraulic setup of the VE, for its feel, feedback and weight.

AUTO PARKING
The automatic parallel parking or whatever its called does work. I tried it on a few occasions, although it did fail one time and drive into the gutter (possibly my fault for going too fast for it to keep up), and another time didn't seem to sense the spot at all so I gave up and parked it myself. It was handy on one occasion where I decided to park in a fairly tight spot, and I was impressed that it was able to do it, albeit very very slowly with a train of cars waiting for me to get in. I was using it really for the novelty factor, but if I owned a VF, I doubt I'd bother as I am capable of parking myself and the system is frustratingly slow when you've got traffic coming from behind. For what it is though, it seems to do well most of the time.

PARK ASSIST
Then we come to the 'park assist' where the system beeps and boops and carries on like a pork chop. Probably the most annoying thing about the car from my point of view. The problem I found with it was, it would beep whenever you're somewhat near any object, so if you're trying to park next to a car or anything, the beeping drives you insane. It is a bit like the boy who cried wolf after a while. At first I thought, "oh, am i about to hit something? What is wrong?" and then I realised nothing is wrong, its just beeping cos it can sense objects. The beeps are sometimes loud and piercing, even though the car wasn't actually that close to anything. I didn't believe the beeping after a while, so I would turn it off every time I jumped in the car because it drove me nuts! At least it could be turned off, but unfortunately it turns itself back on by default every time you start the car again. The reverse camera is a good thing though, especially if you're worried about children walking behind the car. It also was useful when backing out of a 45 degree parking spot to see when it is clear to back out.

HANDLING
The handling was absolutely brilliant. It felt so balanced, and even when pushed a bit through corners, I couldn't get the tyres to squeal (although I couldn't push too hard, as my wife gets car sick). It just went where it was pointed, sat nice and flat with minimal body roll and wasn't unsettled by bumps while cornering. What impressed me the most about the car was the ride quality considering the brilliant handling. You do always have a sense that you are driving a heavy car, but it feels 'light on its feet' and really is enjoyable to drive. The thing about the ride quality was, you feel a lot of the smaller road imperfections with the 18" tyres, which I actually liked because it communicates the road surface really well, but it absorbs the big potholes without sending the shock through into the car. It feels more 'sports car handling' than 'comfy luxury handling' but it is still a comfortable car to drive. Some people may find the ride a bit firm, but I found it to be spot on for a comfortable, communicative ride that handles very very well. I think the Holden engineers got the ride/handling compromise spot on. It does both extremely well. We also did a bit of driving on some unsealed dirt roads where it also dealt with remarkably well considering the sporty suspension tune.

ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
The VF's 3.6 litre SIDI engine was noticeably quieter than in the VE, although when revved, it didn't sound particularly pleasant. It still has that characteristic of coarseness about it. Power delivery was very impressive. It had a lot of responsiveness from low RPM for a V6, (helped by the very good 6 speed auto) and kept pulling hard through the gears. Overtaking is a breeze, with the needle on the speedo quite willing to climb over to the 'naughty side' of 100 in a very short space of time. The engine really does perform well considering the weight of the car. It felt similar to the brilliant Toyota Aurion V6 engine in terms of pulling power, but it didn't have as sweet a sound. I'm not sure what the performance figures are, but it would make a lot of older V8 and turbo cars look silly. After a few days, I noticed a ticking sound from the engine. Still no idea what it was, but it persisted and didn't go away.

The transmission was by far the best transmission I've experienced in a Holden. It always picked the right gear, and was intelligent at holding gears down hills, and was very responsive. It felt remarkably similar to the excellent ZF box in the Falcon in the way it shifted gears, and swiftly engaged the right gears no matter what the situation. The manual mode also worked very well, although the display of what gear you're in was very tiny down the bottom of the display which was annoying.

FUEL ECONOMY
For a heavy car, the fuel economy was very good. Gentle freeway driving got down below 7L/100km. We probably did more highway driving than urban, but there was a mixture of some slow traffic, driving the car hard at times and highway. I measured the fuel consumption by filling up and working out the KM traveled rather than relying on the trip computer (which was quite accurate mind you). Over the nearly 1700km traveled, the worst consumption we saw was 10.1L/100km. Typically we saw around 9L/100km.

INTERIOR
The seats were comfortable and supportive and the leather steering wheel felt nice in the hands, but disappointingly not as nice as the XR6 Falcon's wheel. The steering wheel buttons were a bit fiddly, and I found myself needing to adjust my hands and look at what I was doing, rather than intuitively pressing what I wanted. The drivers door trim developed an annoying rattle after a week. I didn't like the electric park brake. I found it hard to tell my brain that the car wasn't going to move based on the little red light on the dash (which can only be seen if the steering wheel is straight). Every time I started the car, the dash would light up everything in a test and the tacho and speedo would wind slowly to the end and back. This was very irritating, because it took quite a while for all the lights to turn off and become normal, therefore I had to wait to see if that hand brake was actually off before I could drive off, as the light would still be on from this 5-10 sec test. The dual zone climate control and sound system was easy enough to use. I am however still baffled at how cold the air coming from the vents was when the A/C was supposedly turned off. I disliked the '3-flash lane change indicators'. On one occasion, I went to indicate at a roundabout, but immediately changed my mind and was going to go straight ahead, but then had to wait for 3 flashes while other drivers were assuming I was turning left. Its a nice idea in theory for lazy people, but in the real world I prefer to have control over my indicators. Like, seriously, how hard is it to hold your finger for 2 seconds on the indicator stalk when you change lanes! I find it disconcerting and potentially dangerous. The cabin was well insulated and very quiet on the road except for a wind noise intruding through the front doors which was probably only noticed because of the quietness of the rest of the car. One other shortcoming of the interior was the large amount of shiny plastic and shiny chrome which was very good at reflecting the sun into your face on sunny days. The gear selector and surround was particularly bad for this. Also the chrome vent surrounds reflected in your face quite badly.

EXTERIOR
The car is very well styled and looks excellent in my opinion. The wipers do not work well when squirting the windscreen because a streak of water comes off the passenger side wiper no matter how many times you keep wiping it, and then leaves a dirty streak once it dries. My wife complained on several occasions and asked me to turn the wipers on again. The bootlid opens right up when you hit the button on the key which is kind of nice, but it is quite difficult to close, and you need two hands to do it. 10 out of 10 for 'cool factor' but in practical terms, I'd rather stick with the conventional boot pop and lift it by hand and keep the ability to close it with one hand while you're juggling luggage with the other. There was a grab handle inside the boot lid which was helpful though. To unlock all the doors, I found I needed to press 'unlock' 3 times for some reason. Hopefully Holden have allowed settings for this to be changed to personal preference like in previous models.



Summary
All in all, I was very impressed with the VF SV6 Commodore. It didn't feel like a major leap forward over the VE (which is already an outstanding car), but it did feel more upmarket inside. I was however disappointed by the intrusive and annoying parking aids because it felt like the car had been designed to be idiot proof, which only really took away from what is otherwise a brilliant car in many respects. I think the VF Commodore has a bit of an attitude problem. It is in your face and it's trying to say "look at me and all these cool features I have, and I'm going to make sure you know about everything I have whether you like it or not!" To be honest, I'd rather buy a VE commodore without all the fuss. Just let me drive the car and enjoy it please.



James
 
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vkcala

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Thanks for the review mate, I pick up my redline next week after a long wait.
Just re your comment regarding the handbrake. Doesn't it auto release as soon as you start driving? So you wouldn't need to wait to see the light. Just wondering?
 

Freestyla

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Thanks for the review mate, I pick up my redline next week after a long wait.
Just re your comment regarding the handbrake. Doesn't it auto release as soon as you start driving? So you wouldn't need to wait to see the light. Just wondering?
Yep great review man. Very detailed and well written.

Sorry to go off topic just briefly, vkcala which state and when did you order the redline? I have one on order and just need to know if wait times are improving.


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jasonjea

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Thanks for the review mate, I pick up my redline next week after a long wait.
Just re your comment regarding the handbrake. Doesn't it auto release as soon as you start driving? So you wouldn't need to wait to see the light. Just wondering?
Mate it dose automaticli release when you start driving.

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vkcala

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Yep great review man. Very detailed and well written.

Sorry to go off topic just briefly, vkcala which state and when did you order the redline? I have one on order and just need to know if wait times are improving.


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jimmyd17

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Thanks for the review mate, I pick up my redline next week after a long wait.
Just re your comment regarding the handbrake. Doesn't it auto release as soon as you start driving? So you wouldn't need to wait to see the light. Just wondering?
Yep it did auto release as soon as you start driving. I discovered this by forgetting to release the handbrake which is easy to do when there is no lever. It does take off with a slight jolt though when you do that. I believe when you push the button, it does release the handbrake even while the lights test is still going on, but the light will not show you its off because its doing the test and remaining on. I found it disconcerting with no way of actually knowing for sure if your handbrake was on or off as opposed to a conventional handbrake where you can actually feel it applied. In an emergency situation, it will still apply, but its either on or off, so you have no control of it. I see no advantage to the electric setup other than the ability to turn it off automatically if you're stupid enough to drive with your handbrake on. It seems to me like they've adopted the technology for the sake of it. Thumbs down from my point of view.
 

zappaboy

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Interesting and comprehensive and personal review.

I find it interesting and overall disagree that a VE is better than a VF.

I do agree that the handbrake is hard to come to grips with but it may be just that we need to get used to it. I found it ok with a Citroen C5. I have not noticed the issue with the chrome trim in the centre console.

The cruise control is not initiative and logical and does not control speed on down hill runs. Other vehicles do this including GM vehicles such as Opel based vehicles so this is not an excuse for Holden as they should be using the Bosch system and not the cheaper Japanese based system.

The steering and handling of the VF is excellent on all models and the performance and fuel economy on the V6 especially the 3.6 litre is excellent. The only downside is the standard note of the V6 but this is probably more related to ADR rules. Basically like the V8, the sound of the engines is very muted but then it does make the VF more quiet.
 

Black X

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Yep it did auto release as soon as you start driving. I discovered this by forgetting to release the handbrake which is easy to do when there is no lever. It does take off with a slight jolt though when you do that. I believe when you push the button, it does release the handbrake even while the lights test is still going on, but the light will not show you its off because its doing the test and remaining on. I found it disconcerting with no way of actually knowing for sure if your handbrake was on or off as opposed to a conventional handbrake where you can actually feel it applied. In an emergency situation, it will still apply, but its either on or off, so you have no control of it. I see no advantage to the electric setup other than the ability to turn it off automatically if you're stupid enough to drive with your handbrake on. It seems to me like they've adopted the technology for the sake of it. Thumbs down from my point of view.

My guess is the electric handbrake is so manual car's don't roll on a hill when taking off. The handbrake light doesn't come on when it is doing that but I guess they need that system to be electric, otherwise I couldn't see how you would get it to work.
 
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