2013 Holden Calais V6 Sedan Review

Overall Rating

  • Interior

  • On The Road

  • Ancap

  • Value For Money

  • See Full Specs

What’s Hot

Quality interior, improved auto trans, quiet cruising.

What’s Not

No folding rear seat, ‘soft’ brake feel.

X Factor

A big strong car with a refined feel and loaded with tech at a family-friendly price.

  • Country of Origin
    AUSTRALIA
  • Price
    $39,990 (plus on-road costs)
  • Engine
    6 Cylinders
  • Output
    210 kW / 350 Nm
  • Transmission
    Sports Automatic
  • ANCAP Rating
    5
  • Airbags
    Driver & Passenger (Dual), Head for 2nd Row Seats, Side for 1st Row Occupants (Front), Head for 1st Row Seats (Front)
  • L/100 km
    9
  • C02
    216 g/km
  • Luggage Capacity
    N/A
  • Towing (braked)
    2100 kg
  • Towing (unbraked)
    N/A
Kez Casey | Aug 21, 2013 | 17 Comments

2013 HOLDEN CALAIS REVIEW

Vehicle Style: Large sedan
Price: $39,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 210kW/350Nm 6cyl petrol | 6spd auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 9.0 l/100km | tested: 9.3 l/100km

Champagne tastes and beer budgets aren’t always the best of buddies.

But what does this have to do with the VF Calais? Well, it can be yours for a whisker under forty grand (before on-roads) - that's in beer budget territory - but the good news is that there is very much the premium feel to this big home-grown sedan.

More like Champagne then? Yes, we think so.

This Calais comes with a proper high-end fit out. It's good enough to leave Euro full-sizers gasping and is a threat to a swag of similarly-priced SUVs and those rampant midsized Germans.

INTERIOR

Quality: This is the absolute triumph of the VF program. This interior is probably the best-crafted ever to find its way into an Aussie car.

It may not carry the innovation of Ford’s clever Territory, but the soft seats, and leather and suede dash look top-notch.

Trim highlights in satin metal and chrome could put a premium Euro to shame; there's also a neat ‘technical’ look to the decor and the dash and wheel look fresh and modern.

A tiny niggle (and the press fleet is mostly early-build cars) was a loose-feeling park brake button, but things were otherwise tight and rattle free.

Comfort: If a big car like this wasn’t comfortable, there’d be a problem. Those big broad buckets are comfort to a 'T'.

The powered driver’s seat makes it easy to settle in. There’s a bit of side-support for long hauls and the cushion padding is a little soft, but not engulfing.

In the rear, three adults can easily fit across the bench, and even the centre position is no firmer or less viable. There is that centre tunnel to straddle though.

Equipment: Standard Calais equipment includes front and rear park-sensors, reversing camera, self-parking assist, blind-spot alert, reverse traffic alert, dual zone climate control, powered driver’s seat, leather trim and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The list extends to auto headlights, proximity key with remote start, multi-function steering wheel, cruise-control and voice recognition (Siri eyes-free where compatible).

In the dash an eight-inch touch screen controls the six-speaker audio system, which as well as CD, MP3 and AM/FM playback and Bluetooth audio and telephony, also includes internet radio apps for the included Pandora and Stitcher streaming services.

Storage: Hit the boot-release button and the new aluminium boot lid is light enough to lift itself and reveals 495 litres of storage space. Rear seatbacks remain fixed, with a folding ski-port for longer items.

Cabin storage includes generous glovebox and console areas, a bottle holder for each door, plus a variety of handy small item nooks in the centre console.

ON THE ROAD

Driveability: While the 3.6 litre V6 is a carry-over from the VE Commodore, that’s no big issue. With 210kW at 6700rpm and 350Nm at 2800rpm, the V6 engine is strong enough to easily and effortlessly shift the big Calais.

Most noticeable around town is the way the bigger V6 variant uses its extra torque to good effect, compared to the 3.0 litre Evoke. The six-speed auto has also been fettled, taking some of the hesitation out of the VE’s shift cycles.

Get out of town and overtaking is a cinch, kickdown response is accurate and the power delivery smooth.

In the interests of fuel consumption the auto (like so many) is quick to shuffle through gears. For more eager progress though, selecting the sport shift pattern really awakens the gearbox.

A quick belt through the hills in sport-mode proved the auto will hold onto revs when required and isn’t afraid to hang onto a lower gear though the bends. And the V6 really comes on song from 3000rpm and above.

Refinement: From idle to the top of the rev range, the V6 is smooth and quiet, and only makes itself heard when pressing on.

The settled transmission also helps the feeling of calm with smooth shifts and free of hunting. Ford’s ZF six-speeder might still have the upper hand, but it’s a much closer race.

Across a variety of surfaces the interior of the car remained hushed, with both wind and road noise very well attenuated.

Suspension: VF models have a new aluminium front suspension, joining the multi-link independent rear.

The Calais rides on the same ‘Touring’ suspension tune as the Evoke; while comfort is the prime directive, there’s still impressive levels of control during spirited driving.

Importantly though, be it speed-humps or torn rural tarmac, the Calais rides out Australia’s notoriously choppy road surfaces without jarring or shocking occupants.

Braking: The four-wheel disc brakes of the Calais, with dual-piston front and single piston rear calipers, are up to the task. Braking isn’t agressive, but the pedal offers adjustable control and progressive stopping.

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: 5 stars

Safety features: Dual front, side and curtain airbags, ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, stability and traction control with trailer sway control, break-away pedals, seat belt warning for all seats.

Calais and Calais V models also gain height adjustable front seatbelts and adjustable rear head restraints.

WARRANTY AND SERVICING

Warranty: Three years/100,000km (whichever occurs first)

Service costs: Holdenwise capped price servicing covers the first four services up to three years or 60,000km. Service intervals are every nine months or 15,000km and standard service costs will not exceed $185.

Consult your Holden dealer for full terms, conditions and exclusions.

HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY

Chrysler 300 Limited ($43,000) - With imposing looks, the 300 stands out from the crowd. Its large size makes it right at home among Aussie contenders.

The 300 offers a strong features list, with standouts like Xenon headlight, tyre-pressure monitoring and an eight-speed auto. Interior presentation is impressive, but boot space not as large. (see 300 reviews)

Ford Falcon G6 ($40,835) - Your move, Ford. With an updated falcon not due until 2014, the FG MkII soldiers on, but lacks the impressive technology found in the Calais.

Passenger accommodation and on road behaviour are every bit as good as the Calais, and we find the Falcon’s six-speed auto just a little sharper. In G6 spec, equipment is a fair way behind what Holden currently offers. (see Falcon reviews)

Toyota Aurion Prodigy ($41,490) - It may be a Camry beneath the skin, but the sweet V6 of the Aurion means it can keep up with the rest of the large car crew. Towing is a Aurion weakness, with the 1600kg towing capacity the smallest here.

Rear seat space isn’t as plentiful, and despite being well-built the interior is a little anonymous. (see Aurion reviews)

Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

Not everyone needs a large car, but when they offer the levels of equipment, comfortable interior and superb ride comfort of the Calais then everyone should at least take a look.

Superbly equipped, with a noticeable luxury feel and high-end fittings. The clincher is the price: the Calais sits below a four-cylinder Euro mid-sizer.

Families will love the space. Rural buyers will love the long-haul comfort. City shoppers will benefit from the self-parking and streaming technology.

There isn’t an Aussie buyer that hasn’t in some way been catered for with the VF Calais. Buyers would be mad ignore this cracking sedan and the outstanding value it represents.

PRICING (Excludes on-road costs)

Recommended retail prices, comparing new VF to VE, excluding dealer delivery and government charges:

Model

VE

VF pricing

Rollback

Evoke (auto only)

$39,990 (Omega)

$34,990

- $5,000

SV6 (manual)

$42,790

$35,990

-$6,800

SS (manual)

$47,790

$41,990

-$5,800

SS-V (manual)

$55,290

$45,490

-$9,800

SS-V Redline (manual)

$57,790

$51,490

-$6,300

Calais (auto only)

$48,290

$39,990

-$8,300

Calais V V6 (auto only)

$56,790

$46,990

-$9,800

Calais V V8 (auto only)

$61,990

$52,990

-$9,000

Sportwagon body style adds $2000 including GST (auto transmission only)
Automatic transmission adds $2200 including GST (Sports models only)
Prestige paint adds $550 including GST

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Filed under: Featured, review, Holden, petrol, holden commodore, holden calais, rwd, sedan, automatic, family, large, Advice, special-featured, 6cyl, 4door, 6a, 5seat, available, 35-40k, 2013my

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  • CAZZO says,
    1 year ago
    4 likes
    If you can driveaway in one of these for $35k, and get it fitted with LPG its great buying smile

    Hell, they want $30k for a "sports" i30 laugh

    Still, Holden should have done a diesel Commodore

    The Falcon wont beat this, dont have the budget or long term outlook, so yeap this is the best aussie car ever.

    Well done Holden smile
    • Popper says,
      1 year ago
      2 likes
      $35k doesn't seem right, does it?

      Anyway, yes, it looks to be a good car at a good price. My wife and I looked at one and were impressed---and I've always been a Ford guy.
    • Mitchell says,
      1 year ago
      I dunno, it is being released over 12 months after VF, and judging by the teaser shot it should have it sewn up in the looks dept...
    • matt says,
      1 year ago
      1 like
      it is a nice car i have to admit, good point on the price of the SR i30 lol, my god im agreeing with you on things. Found out too the FBT changes only apply to 50+k cars so im not sure what the media is whinging about when they say if will hurt the local industry, the overpriced top spec aurion perhaps. I would give LPG a miss if you were going to use it as a tourer, going the inland way to central queensland the other day seen LPG priced at 102.9/l.
    • MotorMouth says,
      1 year ago
      3 likes
      Why should Holden have done a disiesel? Give us one valid reason. Is 350Nm insufficent torque? Is LPG too expensive? NO to both. Disiesel makes absolutely no sense at all for Australia. We can't make it, Bass Strait crude is too light/thin, which makes it more expensive than petrol.

      It only became popular in Europe because it was 15c a litre cheaper than petrol, so the Euros put huge amunts of R&D into developing disiesel engines. But now it's the same price as petrol over there, both BMW and Mercedes-Benz have said that they are no longer putting in as much effort, instead working to put the same technology into their petrol engines, with similar efficiencies. They also reckon that Wuro VI emissions standards will pretty much kill disiesel off in passenger cars once and for all. I look forward to that day and, in the mean time, I laugh at every clueless bastard I see driving one.
      • CAZZO says,
        1 year ago
        2 likes
        Why should Holden have done a disiesel? Give us one valid reason. Is 350Nm insufficent torque? Is LPG too expensive? NO to both. Disiesel makes absolutely no sense at all for Australia. We can't make it, Bass Strait crude is too light/thin, which makes it more expensive than petrol.

        It only became popular in Europe because it was 15c a litre cheaper than petrol, so the Euros put huge amunts of R&D into developing disiesel engines. But now it's the same price as petrol over there, both BMW and Mercedes-Benz have said that they are no longer putting in as much effort, instead working to put the same technology into their petrol engines, with similar efficiencies. They also reckon that Wuro VI emissions standards will pretty much kill disiesel off in passenger cars once and for all. I look forward to that day and, in the mean time, I laugh at every clueless bastard I see driving one.


        One word, RANGE

        If you behave, 1500km to a tankful

        Superior for towing and less issues, the Falcon Ute in diesel would have sold, esp. in RTV spec.



        • MotorMouth says,
          1 year ago
          1 like
          And exactly where is that handy? I can't think of anywhere in Australia where petrol stations are 1500km apart. Disiesel is at best only incrementally better for towing and, even then, only in specific circumstances. For the needs of 99% of Australians, Ford's I6 and Holden's V6 offer plenty of towing grunt. The cost of developing a disiesel engine for a RWD layout would be massive and the ROI would be bugger-all.

          Disiesels look great next to 4 cylinder engines but you only have to look at Territory to see how poorly they compare to a six. The Territory disiesel is around 35% down on power, yet only offers 10% more torque. The result is that it barely saves enough fuel to compensate for the higher cost of disiesel at the pump. You'd have to drive it for 50 years to get back the $3250 premium you pay up-front. Ford and Holden woudl be much smarter putting the same technology - direct injection nad turbocharging - into engines that can run on LPG, a resource we have in abundance that could power every car on the road today for 100 years.
        • Richard says,
          1 year ago
          "If you behave, 1500km to a tankful"

          Who cares? You can't drive for 15hrs straight so what's the point of such a huge range?

          I seem to think that diesels lovers use "range" in the same manner as performance car lovers use "0-100km/h" , as a some sort of pissing competition. smile
    • Ryan says,
      1 year ago
      Holden have looked into a diesel engine for the Commodore however there was too much noise and vibrations and it would cost too much to get it to an acceptable level.
      • FrugalOne says,
        1 year ago
        2 likes
        Holden have looked into a diesel engine for the Commodore however there was too much noise and vibrations and it would cost too much to get it to an acceptable level.


        Where were Holden getting the diesel engine from, Iron Horse Co of Shenzen Chinalaughlaugh

        Modern hi tech diesels have no such issues
  • snails says,
    1 year ago
    Good review and a very tempting car, but im curious about how realistic the fuel figures are. The tested value of 9.3 sounds great, but I struggle to keep my old focus to under 10. I wonder what sort of driving was required to get that number. .Does anyone have any experience with the vf's yet?
    • Frank says,
      8 months ago
      10.7 average consumption is the best I'm managing in my sv6. That's with a mixture of freeway and suburban driving... I do think however that they are tuned too run too rich. 39.9 shows up even with light throttle applications (?)
  • Axe Togrind says,
    1 year ago
    Wow, Holden has dropped the RRP quite substantially...but hang on, those new prices aren't that different to what the old ones usually got sold for. Want a discount on the new car? No chance even after the gloss has gone. So it's really a case of smoke and mirrors. The ones who suffer again are the old owners as their old Commodes have just dropped in value again. Talk about making customers for life! It's just too financially damning to get out of one. All that aside, well done on a very nice car that is a world beater
    • Ryan says,
      1 year ago
      5 likes
      You drop the price and people complain about the resale of the old cars, you keep the price the same and people complain there not being competitive. Whatever Holden does people will complain.
      • Axe Togrind says,
        1 year ago
        Maybe, but people either commend or complain - what other choices are there? One thing I do know though and that is very few Holden owners list resale as a bright point of the ownership cycle. This car should improve that but I doubt it - Holden will bring out Mark's 1,2,3,4... each year from now on and this is another painful wound to inflict on owners. Most buyers now (and will increasingly) want smaller and more fuel efficient cars anyway.
  • Deco28 says,
    1 year ago
    2 likes
    Just took delivery of mine yesterday. Wat an amazing car, looks stunning in Regal Pea*** to!
    • Fred says,
      1 year ago
      Finally a realistic price.
      The cars were way to expensive before, hence the Asian cars sold better.

      I don't believe the fuel consumption at all. Every Commodore I have driven before has used more fuel than the sticker says, not only 0.3 Litres.

      A Diesel would make sense, as they are more fuel efficient and have more pulling power. People wouldn't buy overprized Crew Cab Utes and instead purchase a Diesel Commodore Wagon to pull the boat, caravan or trailer.

      LPG has always the problem that the boot space is compromised, the same at Ford.
      Why not have an LPG option foer every trim level?
      We should support LPG, but I guess they will add tax if more people use it wink

      Gas is the new Diesel in Europe. Most Taxi's are now on CNG or LPG.

      @Motormouth
      The real life fuel consumption of a Territory 6 and a Territory Diesel easily justify the Diesel purchase. I don't understand why they never offered a Territory LPG.
      And one has to compare a Petrol 4 to a Diesel 4.
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