HOLDEN CALAIS REVIEW
Vehicle style: Large luxury family sedan
Price: $61,990 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 6.0 litre V8 Petrol with Active Fuel Management
Outputs: 260kW @ 5700rpm / 517Nm @ 4400rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with Active Select manual
Official fuel efficiency: 12.3 l/100km
On test fuel efficiency: 13.1 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 292g/km
The Calais V is the top-shelf model in the Commodore range. The VE Series II Calais V, updated with the release of the Series II range last year, gains a number of styling and comfort changes, inside and out.
Both the 3.0 litre SIDI V6 and 6.0 litre AFM V8 engines are flex-fuel capable, allowing for the use of bio-ethanol (E85), E10, unleaded and premium unleaded petrol fuels.
- Quality: Material quality and fit remains largely unchanged in the stylish new interior - good, but not excellent. Besides the sumptuous leather seats and leather-wrapped wheel, the interior does not have the feel of a range-topping model.
Some finish is lacking: the handbrake and centre handhold plastic is cheap and sharp-edged, for example.
- Comfort: The strong suit of the Commodore family’s interior is its comfort, and the Calais V is no exception.
It offers ample leg, shoulder and headroom, while all seats are wide and offer excellent support.
- Equipment: The 2011 Calais V gets Holden’s exceptional new IQ system, featuring a 6.5-inch touchscreen with GPS, iPod connectivity and CD player with internal music storage.
Auto-on headlamps, trip computer, dual-zone climate, cruise control, Bluetooth and power windows/mirrors are also standard.
- Storage: Generous 496 litres of boot space, however only the centre seatback can be folded forward.
ON THE ROAD
- Driveability: The V8 Calais V offers ample power; the sport and tiptronic modes of the automatic give it real hustle on the highway.
While it is a quick and powerful car, its tight turning circle and easy operation also make it a comfortable commuter.
- Refinement: The Commodore’s ability to iron out corrugations and broken tarmac on secondary roads is one reason for its reputation for durability among country drivers.
The Calais V is quiet and composed on all but the worst surfaces, offering a measurably better ride than the more firmly-sprung German competition.
- Suspension: MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear. Set up for luxurious cruising with softer suspension settings, the Calais is nevertheless quite capable through corners.
- Braking: Ventilated discs front and rear bring the 1800kg Calais V to a quick halt, although the soft pedal lacks feel.
- ANCAP rating: 5 Star
- Safety features: Six airbags (front, front side and full-length curtain), three-point seatbelts, ABS, EBD, stability control and traction control are all standard.
A reversing camera is also standard, along with front/rear sensors and on-screen guidance.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
- Warranty: Three years/100,000km.
- Service costs: Complimentary inspection at 3000km / three months with service intervals every 15,000km/12 months. Holden does not provide dealer servicing cost guidelines; speak to your dealer about scheduled servicing costs.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
- Ford G6E Turbo ($59,447) - With a nicer interior, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, 5 Star ANCAP rating, a superb and seamlessly powerful engine, lower fuel consumption and a slightly lower price, the Ford is arguably the better buy. (See G6E Turbo reviews)
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
It’s very quick, very spacious, very comfortable and, for a big sedan not tuned specifically as a sports model, a very good handler. If these are your priorities, the V8 Calais V is a good buy.
While buyers are not spoiled for choice in this very specific price/trim/power niche, the Ford G6E Turbo is all of these things and more. Enjoying a small price advantage, it’s our pick in this two-car battle.
If you lean to the Holden however, consider the Calais V Redline Edition ($2500 premium) for better suspension and big Brembo brakes.