Bowen's Report Card
Saturday Night Reminiscing – 2017 VF Holden Commodore Calais V
- Great ride and handling
- Stacks of space
- Great looking
- Ordinary V6
- Poor fuel economy
- Lack of technology
THE BOWEN SCORE
I turned 40 back in June, statistically I’m halfway through my life. I don’t mean that in a morbid sense, but wow 40 bloody years. Along with that I’ve also started to get a tad nostalgic, thinking of past school friends, the good and the bad times. A big part of my life has been a love of cars and the money sinkhole they usually were. In 2008 I purchased a V8 Holden Commodore Calais V. So I thought, why not take a stroll down memory lane? It’s time for “Flashback Saturday” and what was back in 2017 my final review of the VF Commodore Calais.
The 3.5-litre V6 sounds like a 20-year-old blow dryer but still packs a good punch. The 210kW/350Nm unit has some real go to it, the VF six-speed was a massive leap up over the VE, trust me I know! But there are no paddle shifters, which is almost an industry standard for this category of car.
The thing that really makes the Commodore such an underdog is how it handles our conditions. The suspension is just about perfectly set up to accommodate even the most disastrous tarmac. Despite 19’’ wheels, it just lopes along smashing anything thrown at it. Keep in mind this is without any fancy dynamic or air-assisted springs. The steering control is spot on, pointing the front end into corners doesn’t come much easier on any car. It also brakes well for a large, heavy car with great pedal feel that any level of driver would feel comfortable with.
Value For Money
$48,750 got you a lot of car, pound for pound. But it also drank like punters at happy hour. I averaged 10.8L/100km. This in part is why a SUV is in your face everywhere you turn.
The “luxury” variant known as the Calais was always an aspirational-type vehicle, outside of the performance orientated SS. It was the sort of car a mid-level manager at a paper company would drive.
It’s like the VIP room at a newly refurbished RSL, or the first-class cabin on the XPT. Special, but hardly opulent. But having said that the bits and pieces of leather, suede and chrome-look trim throughout the cabin are acceptable. On the outside I’ve always felt the VE / VF range was just about the most inoffensive sedan on the road. The VF even more so after Holden reduced the size of the exaggerated flared front wheel arches. It has always just sat well with me, particularly in Calais mode. Give me a clean, silver example with the added silver chrome brightwork over the SS any day of the week.
When you sit in a Calais V you notice all the goodies, but then all the let downs. It has a stack of modern safety technology sure, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, and reverse traffic alert are great but these systems won’t ever actually intervene. It’s all just warning lights and beeps, that’s old school.
The MyLink infotainment system is OK, in fact it was almost a benchmark a few years back. But with no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto it too has fallen behind. The Head Up Display is right up there with the best systems, although why you need to see G-force telemetry in a V6 Calais is beyond me. But many of the expected details found on many cheaper and lesser cars left the VF lagging
Bowen’s Report Card
If the VF was given the chance to evolve it would potentiality end up a world beater. It’s a couple of rungs up anything the Americans have on offer, plus it makes European sedans look stupidly overpriced. But if inflated, status symbol SUV’s are what the public wants guess what the public will get? Goodbye Commodore, you’ve been a good kid.