2017 Was A Car-razy Year For Sales In Australia

Car sales people in Australia should have cause to sit back and enjoy a cold one after VFACTS said that 1,189,116 vehicles were sold in 2017. That includes record numbers for Japanese niche filler, and a brand that really should be considered mainstream, Subaru. Korea should also celebrate as Kia saw record numbers as well.

But there’s also signs of a continuing trend that’ll have some smiling and others pensive, as 2017 marks the first year that SUVs outsold the traditional passenger car. Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) Chief Executive Tony Weber said: “2017 marks the first full year in which the sales of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) have outstripped those of passenger cars. Australians bought 465,646 SUVs during 2017 for a 39.2 per cent share of the total market, compared with 450,012 passenger cars with a 37.8 per cent share. The shift in industry dynamic we observed last year has now become entrenched in our market. It is a growth pattern that we expect will continue.”

Even light commercial vehicles saw an increase; 2017 has that category with a market share of 19.9% in 2017, up from 18.8% in 2016.

The Toyota brand will be celebrating as both brand and a Toyota badged vehicle took the number one sales position. Toyota had a 18.2% market share and the HiLux was the winner for both 2017 and in December, selling 3949 units, just ahead of Holden‘s Astra at 3533.
Mazda, Hyundai, Holden, and Mitsubishi rounded out the top five, with Kia cracking the 50,000 mark for the first time ever and seeing 54,737 cars roll out from the showroom for ninth. Subaru claimed tenth, also with a plus 50K figure at 52,511.Ford, Volkswagen, and Nissan filled the remaining places with Ford’s Ranger at 3458 just pipping Holden’s revamped Colorado on 3222. It should be noted that the Colorado had an increase of 165.6% for December 2017 over the same period the year before. On 2807 for December 2017 was the petite Mazda3, a decrease of 10.6%. It was an upswing for the next highest selling vehicle and the gong goes to Mitsubishi‘s Triton, with 25.6% and 2645 sales.

Toyota’s evergreen Corolla had a backwards step, with a minus figure of 9.8% but still saw 2641 versions find new homes in December. With local manufacturing wrapping up, Holden still managed to see the VF series 2 Commodore into 2229 homes, a slight increase of just 4.6%. A facelift and some sharp pricing for the Mitsubishi ASX, in need of an interior overhaul, take ninth with an increase of 43.4% and 2128 sales. Tenth overall in December was Mazda‘s CX5, just behind the ASX on 2113 and a mild increase of 10.9%

Kia’s Cerato was behind the push to crack the 50K mark.With an increase of just under 43%, at 18,371 sales. Big numbers for Sportage as well, with 13,448 being sold and that’s an increase of 23.1%. The baby Picanto, itself receiving an update, dominated its category with a whopping 46.5% market share, as Carnival also dominated, with virtually half of the People Mover market under $60,000 wearing the Korean badge.December 2017 saw thirty six consecutive months of growth for the Subaru brand. Leading the way was the Forester, rolling into 12,474 new homes in 2017. The Liberty wagon based Outback was a close third, on 11,340, whilst the new for mid 2017 XV had increases of 22.6% for the year and 69.9% for December, with 10,161 and 1069 sales respectively. A slight revamp for the BRZ coupe saw an increase of 137.5% for 786 sales.It was the facelifted Impreza range that snared second place for Subaru sales in 2017, with a massive increase of 151.9% over 2016 sales and 11,903 cars saying goodbye to the showroom. Both Liberty and Outback are due for updates in 2018 and Subaru have also flagged a major revamp for the Forester which will be due in the last quarter of 2018.

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2018 Holden Commodore Pricing Released….And It’s Good!

Since Holden announced it would be ceasing car manufacturing in Australia, there was plenty of speculation about what would replace the locally developed and engineered Commodore. That answer was given and finally, in 2018, the fully imported Commodore will be released for the Australian market. Holden has today (December 12, 2017) provided pricing details and nope, they’re nowhere near as bad as some naysayers touted, nor are the spec levels anything to be ashamed of. There’s still a Sportwagon, too.

Tech will come in the form of such things as DAB (Digital Audio Broadcast), Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Forward Collision Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert, the aforementioned 2.0-L turbo four and the adaptive all wheel drive for the V6 models, and more.

Pricing will start at a recommended retail price of $33,690, which is $1800 lower than the preceding equivalent model. That will have the 2.0-L turbo four and even better is the drive-away pricing that will be available. $35990 drive-away is what will be presented and that’s just $65 shy of $4000 cheaper.

Holden will keep the Calais and Calais V names, and these will get the V6, all wheel drive, combination as standard, along with heating AND cooling for the front seats, a massage function, wireless phone charging and leather wrapped tiller as standard.Although the evocative SS badging has been rested, with hints of a potential return, the sporty side for Commodore goes Euro, by getting the VXR badging. They’ll also get the AWD/V6, plus Brembo brakes up front, plus continuous damping technology in the suspension. Holden’s engineers have continued to take part in fine tuning that for the wide brown land market, with something like 150,000 kilometres worth of testing so far.
With thanks to Holden, here’s the good oil on the pricing and the model range.

2018 HOLDEN COMMODORE PRICING – RRP

Liftback (sedan)
LT 2.0-litre turbo * $33,690
Calais 2.0-litre turbo * $40,990
Calais-V V6 AWD $51,990
RS 2.0-litre turbo $37,290
RS V6 AWD $40,790
RS-V V6 AWD $46,990
VXR V6 AWD $55,990

Sportwagon
LT 2.0-litre turbo * $35,890
RS 2.0-litre turbo $39,490
RS-V V6 AWD $49,190

Tourer (high-ride)
Calais Tourer V6 AWD $45,990
Calais-V Tourer V6 AWD $53,990

* diesel available – $3,000 premium

2018 HOLDEN COMMODORE PRICING – DRIVEAWAY PRICING

Liftback (sedan)
LT 2.0-litre turbo $35,990
RS 2.0-litre turbo $38,990
RS V6 AWD $42,490

Tourer (high-ride)
Calais Tourer V6 AWD $47,990

2018 HOLDEN COMMODORE FEATURE HIGHLIGHTS

LT: Liftback and Sportwagon

2.0-litre turbo engine
9-speed automatic transmission
17-inch alloy wheels
Auto headlamps with LED Daytime Runnings Lights
LED tail lights
Passive Entry and Push-button Start
Remote Start
Holden Eye Forward Facing Camera
Autonomous Emergency Braking
Lane Keep Assist
Lane Departure Warning
Following Distance Indicator
Forward Collision Alert with Head-Up Warning
Advanced Park Assist (semi-automatic parking)
Rear View Camera. Front and Rear Park Assist
Rain Sensing Wipers
Holden MyLink Infotainment System with 7-inch high-resolution colour touch-screen display
Apple CarPlay® and Android® Auto phone projection
Full iPod® integration including Siri Eyes Free
Cruise Control
Leather Steering Wheel
8-way Power Driver Seat
60/40 split-folding rear seats
Spacesaver spare wheel
Diesel engine option

RS features over LT: Liftback and Sportwagon

18-inch alloy wheels
Sports body kit
Sports front seats
Side Blind Zone Alert
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Leather sport steering wheel
Rear lip spoiler
Handsfree power tailgate (Sportwagon only)

RS-V features over RS: Liftback and Sportwagon

3.6-litre V6 AWD engine
9-speed automatic transmission
Adaptive AWD with electric LSD
Hi Per Strut Suspension
Rear Sports Fascia
Wireless phone charging
Ambient Lighting
Holden MyLink Infotainment System with 8-inch high-resolution colour touch-screen display
Apple CarPlay® and Android® Auto phone projection
Full iPod® integration including Siri Eyes Free
Embedded Satellite Navigation
DAB+
8-inch colour cluster screen
Colour Head-up display
Leather appointed seat trim
Heated front seats
Sports steering wheel with paddles
Alloy pedals

VXR features over RS-V: Liftback only

20-inch alloy wheels
Selectable mode Continuous Damping Control (CDC) suspension
Brembo brakes (front)
Electric Sunroof
VXR floor mats & sill plates
Adaptive LED Matrix Headlights
360-degree camera
Adaptive cruise control
Performance leather sports seats
Ventilated front seats
Heated rear seats
Driver & Passenger seat power side bolsters
BOSE premium audio

Calais features over LT: Liftback and Tourer

18-inch alloy wheels
Leather appointed seat trim
Heated front seats
Wireless phone charging
Side Blind Zone Alert
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Holden MyLink Infotainment System with 8-inch high-resolution colour touch-screen display
Apple CarPlay® and Android® Auto phone projection
Full iPod® integration including Siri Eyes Free
Embedded Satellite Navigation
DAB+
4.2-inch colour cluster screen
3.6-litre V6 AWD engine (Tourer only)
Adaptive AWD with electric LSD (Tourer only)
High-ride suspension (Tourer only)
Handsfree power tailgate (Tourer only)

Calais-V features over Calais: Liftback and Tourer

3.6-litre V6 AWD engine
9-speed automatic transmission
Adaptive AWD with electric LSD
20-inch alloy wheels
Rear lip spoiler
Adaptive LED Matrix head lights
Electric sunroof (Liftback only)
Panoramic sunroof (Tourer only)
8-inch colour cluster screen
Colour Head-up display
360-degree camera
BOSE premium audio
Driver seat power side bolsters
Massage driver seat
Ventilated front seats
Heated rear seats
Sports steering wheel with paddles

Car Review: 2018 Holden Astra LS/LT/LT-Z Sedan

It’s back to the future for Holden as the Astra nameplate on a sedan resurfaces with the sedans developed in Europe and built in Korea. The name replaces the Cruze, itself a resurrection of a previously used nomenclature. We’ve had the European sourced Astra hatch for a while and there’s also a new wagon version on the way. A Wheel Thing spends time with the mid-spec LT, top spec LT-Z, and entry level LS (there’s also a LS+), all fitted with the same engine and transmission combination.Up front, and the sole choice for a powerplant in the Astra sedan, is a 1.4L petrol engine, complete with turbo and good for 110 kilowatts. There’s 240 torques available between 2000 to 4000 rpm, with an extra five if you go for the six speed manual which is available in the LS only. Recommended go-go juice for the 52 litre tank is 91RON, of which it’ll drink at over eight litres per one hundred kilometres in an urban environment. On the freeway AWT saw a best of 6.3 in the LS and 7.1L/100 km in the LT-Z. Holden’s Astra sedan brochure doesn’t appear to specify weight, however elsewhere it’s quoted as being just under 1300 kilograms.The engine itself is a willing revver, especially so when the torque is on tap…for the most part. What was noticeable was the lag between a hard prod of the go-pedal, the change down a cog or two, and the resulting leap forward. In tighter Sydney traffic when a quick response was needed in changing lanes, that hesitation could potentially result in a safe move not being as safe as it should be. Also, in the LS, a noticeable whine, an unusual note at that, was audible and not found in the LT or LT-Z. Otherwise, once warmed up, the six speed auto had invisible gear changes up and down on a flat road, and downshifted nicely, holding gears, on the bigger downward slopes out west.It’s a trim, lithe, almost handsome car to look at though. It’s a longish 4665 mm in length and hides a boot of good depth and breadth at 465 litres. The rear deck lid does have old school hinges that swing down into the boot space though. The boot on the LT and LT-Z gain a small, discreet, lip spoiler as well. It’s also broad, with over 1800 mm in total width, and stands 1457 mm tall. What this gives you is 1003 mm front headroom, 1068 mm legroom, 1394 mm shoulder room, and in the rear 1350 mm shoulder room. 939 mm and 951 mm are the numbers in the rear for leg and head room.Up front, the three are virtually identical, bar chrome strips in the lower corners of the front bar for the LT/LT-Z. The headlights are LED DRL backed from the LS+ upwards and provide quite a decent spread of light. The headlight surrounds themselves gleam in the sunlight and add a solid measure of presence to the look. Wheels wise they’re all alloys, with a 16/17/18 inch and appropriate tyre size to match. There’s 205/55/16, 225/45/17, and 225/40/18s. And each of these contribute to the ride quality to the differing models…The LS is undoubtably the most plush, soft, of the three, but by no means does it lack grip when pushed. The rubber on the LS is from Hankook, the LT and LT-Z have Kumho Ecsta. Both brands provide more than enough grip and even occasionally chirp when when hard acceleration is given and both brands do provide a rumble, a somewhat intrusive rumble, on the coarser chip tarmac in Sydney. The LT and LT-Z also benefit from the fettling the Australia engineers have given, with a firmer and more sporting ride, less rebound but a small measure of more harshness.All three are brilliant freeway cruisers but it’s around town that the suspension tune really shines. In the varied road conditions that Sydney throws up, from table flat to mildly pockmarked to rutted and broken tarmac, all three dealt with them adroitly and with the words “sure footed” writ large. Only occasionally would the LT-Z, with the stiffest feel, skip and that was more so on the more ragged undulations that some corners have. There’s plenty of conversation from the steering wheel vinyl in the LS, leather in the LT/LT-Z), with an almost tactile amount of constant feedback through to the driver.Speaking of steering, the design of the wheel itself has your hands feeling as if they’re sitting between ten & two and eleven & one. The horizontal spokes sit just that little too high for a totally comfortable feel. You’ll also dip out on electric seats, even in the LT-Z, however there is more manual adjustment than in the LS. Across the range you’ll get auto headlights (which have an overly sensitive sensor), parking sensors, reverse camera, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with a seven inch and eight inch touchscreen for LS and the LT models.

Digital radio is also on board the LT and LT-Z to take advantage of the quite decent speakers on board. Also available in the LT and LT-Z are parking assist and with front parking sensors, Blind Spot Alert, auto headlights with tunnel detection, whilst the LS+ joins the party with Lane Keep Assist, following distance indicator, and Forward Collision Alert. However, window wise, only the LT-Z gets auto up and down for the driver’s window.Trim wise it’s cloth seats or machine made leather, soft-ish touch plastic on the dash, a grey coloured surround for the touchscreen and a frankly boring look for that in the LS, versus a higher sense of appeal and presence in the LT/LT-Z with chrome and piano black. Aircon in the LS is dialled in whereas the others get dials but with LEDs in the centre to show temperature and add more visual pizzaz. There’s a colour info screen in the LT and LT-Z’s driver binnacle which mirrors that seen in the touchscreen. Both look fantastic and appeal greatly. The LS? Standard monochrome. There’s clearly a high level of quality in the build being based on a Korean sourced sedan, but inside the Astra sedan does lack visual appeal, even though it’s not a physically unpleasant place to be.At The End Of The Drive.
At the time of writing, just a few days before Holden ceases manufacturing, the company had announced a seven year warranty being made available for the Astra range. However, there are terms and conditions so please speak to your local Holden dealership. Also, again at the time of writing (October 2017), the LS Astra sedan was being offered from $20990 driveaway if you choose the manual. Pick the self shifter it’s from $21990. The LS+ auto is from $23490 with the LT and LT-Z from $26290 and $30290 respectively. Again, please check with your local dealer. Those prices include stamp duty, 12 months rego and compulsory third party insurance, by the way.

All three (of the four trim levels available) cars tested did not disappoint; the LT-Z for AWT would be the pick, if only for the more sporting feel of the ride, the higher trim level and the fact that DAB is included, as it is below this model. But as a model range intended to effectively assist in kickstarting the importation model for Holden from October 2017 onwards, it’s somehow slipped under the radar. And that, so far, is a shame because it’s a very capable vehicle and more than worthy of continuing the legacy of the Holden Astra name.
Here’s where to go for inforamtion: 2018 Holden Astra range

Car Review: 2017 Holden Astra RS.

Holden’s move to bring in its range of vehicles from Europe has already paid off with the fully European sourced Astra. With an all turbocharged engine range, the 2017 Astra family, which starts at $23990 driveaway, offers power, performance, and plenty of tech, as A Wheel Thing drives the 2017 Holden Astra 1.6L RS manual.It’s the 1.6L four here, with an immensely handy 280 torques between 1650 to 3500 revs and rolls off to the 147 kW peak output at 5500. So far it’s a numbers game, including six, six being how many forward ratios in the manual transmission supplied. It’s a delight, this transmission, with a beautifully progressive clutch pedal and a pickup point that feels natural. The gear selector is also well weighted, with no indecision in the close throw and tautly sprung lever. Reverse is across to the left and up, easily selected by a pistol grip trigger on the selecter’s front. It’s a delightfully refined package, one worth investigating, and a prime reason why we should move away from automatics as our primary transmission. Economy? A Wheel Thing finished on a sub 7.0L per 100L of 95 RON from the 48 litre tank.It’s a sweet looking machine too. A sharp yet slimline nose, with striking silver accents, rolls into a steeply raked front window, with good side vision before finishing with a somewhat odd looking C pillar design incorporating a pyramidical motif. There’s a black sheet between this and the roofline and there’s further eyeball catching with the deep scallops in the doors. Beautifully styled tail lights finish off what really is a handsome vehicle.  Inside you’ll find a well sculpted office. There’s piano black highlights that contrast with charcoal grey black plastic and cloth trim on the seats in a checkerboard pattern. The dash design itself is organic, flowing, and evokes the design ethos of higher end luxury cars. The pews front and rear are wonderfully supportive and have just the right amount of give and bolstering. Rear seat passengers get enough leg room for comfort also and there’s no problem with head room for front or rear with 1003 mm and 971 mm respectively. The driver and passenger do not get electric seats, though, however there is DAB for the high quality audio system that’s part of the GM family’s MyLink set. There’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility along with streaming apps. For those that like to carry kids and shopping, there’s 360L pf cargo space with the seats folded up, cupholders front and rear, USB charger point, seatback pockets, and door pockets as well.The driver and passenger do not get electric seats, though as they’re reserved for the RS-V, however there is DAB for the high quality audio system that’s part of the GM family’s MyLink set. There’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility along with streaming apps and the leather clad tiller has audio and cruise controls that are pure GM in their ease of use. For those that like to carry kids and shopping, there’s 360L pf cargo space with the seats folded up, cupholders front and rear, USB charger point, seatback pockets, and door pockets as well.It’s its road manners and driveability where the Astra RS really shines. The six speed manual is fluid, smooth, and completely complements the torque delivery of the 1.6L powerplant. What makes the Astra RS a delight to drive is the beautifully balanced suspension. It really is one of the best ride packages you’ll find. Period. The suppleness of the suspension is deft in its ability to change with road surface changes, whilst it firms up to provide a sporting feel when required. Rubber is from France, with lightning bolt 17 inch alloys wrapped in Michelin 225/45 tyres.From smooth freeway surfaces such as those found in western Sydney where some areas have been freshly resurfaced, to gravelled and rutted entrance roads, the Astra RS feels comfortable and poised across these and every surface in between. Thrown into off camber turns the hatch sits flat and under control and rarely does the rear end feel as if it’s not attached to the front. The steering itself is weighted just so, with a fine balance of effort versus connection to the front. There’s a bare hint of understeer being a front wheel drive car and while hint ar torque steer when the go pedal is given a hard push from standstill.Holden will give you a three year or one hundred thousand kilometre warranty, which, given the levels of warranty offered by others is starting to look a little dated. However they do offer Lifetime Capped Price Servicing plus you can take the car for a twenty four hour test drive to make up your own mind. Yes, you’ll find driver aids on board and the RS gets Automatic Emergency Braking in the suite of aids.

At The End Of The Drive.

The RS Astra, priced in the mid twenty thousand dollar range, is perhaps one of the most complete packages you can buy as a driver’s car. A torquey engine, a slick manual transmission, a comfortable office and with enough tech on board for emjoyment and safety, plus a beautifully tuned chassis add up to provide one of the most pleasureable drive experiences available. And that price makes it a competitive package in regards to value as well. Go here to check it out plus look at the new sedan: 2017 Holden Astra hatch range

Car Review: 2017 Holden Trax LS

Holden has a history of importing small cars for SUV style duties. Suzuki gave us the Drover, Isuzu the Jackeroo and a jacked up Barina became the Trax. A refresh to the car has been performed, with noticeable changes inside and out. The 2017 Holden Trax LS spends a week in the urban jungle.Up front is the 1.4L turbo four that once resided in the Cruze. In that car, even with an auto, it was lively, peppy, zippy. Not so in the LS auto. Holden have released the LS with the 1.8L engine and manual or the turbo four and auto only. Even with 200 torques at 1850 rpm it’s pulling close to 1400 kilos and felt as if the gear ratios were holding the little SUV back. When punched hard and under way, the performance characteristics did change…having said that, the auto had an unusual and odd whine, one not out of place in a manual transmission that wasn’t calibrated correctly.The turbo four drinks 95 RON as its preferred tipple and will do so at 6.9L per 100 km (quoted,combined) from a tank weighing in at 53 litres. That’s pretty much on the money in the week A Wheel Thing had the petite LS Trax however that’s the combined figure. Given this kind of car will be in short distance, stop start, style of travel, figure on something closer to 8.0L/100 km.

Ride quality is a mixed bag in the front wheel drive only Trax LS with a even and smooth feeling on freshly laid roads morphing into unsure and tentative on broken and rutted surfaces. There was even occasional mild bump steer and an odd sensation of the front MacPherson strut suspension’s settings not balancing the compound crank axle rear. Driving over the mildly broken surfaces of some local roads would have the front gently absorbing the irregularities and the rear would feel less tied down. All in all, just not a balanced mix. Handling was also a mixed bag with a numbness either side of centre of the tiller, a feeling of twitchiness in the communication from the steering wheel, and just hints of understeer from the Continental 205/70/16 rubber when pushed.

The brakes were the same odd mix, with nothing but pedal pressure for what felt like an inch before a gentle bite, a too gentle bite at that. In order to get any sense of stopping power a harder shove was required and there was no sense of progression, rather a change from soft to grab hard, a most disconcerting sensation in high traffic. That’s perhaps due to the drum rears, not discs. It’s also apparently fitted with HSA, or Hill Start Assist, however even gentle slopes such as those found in undergroup car parks had the car rolling back once the foot was off the brake.

The transmission in the LS Turbo is, as mentioned, a six speed auto. It is fitted with a manual override, accessible via a simple toggle switch on the selector. This was invaluable in the climb up Sydney’s Old Bathurst Road, just west of Penrith, at the base of the Blue Mountains. In traffic, rather than the indecisive self selector, by using the manual it would more than happily crawl/walk/run uphill depending on the traffic gaps. It was quicker in changing gears doing this and came in handly also in overtaking.Brownie points, also, for the interior of the Trax. It’s an office come boys club in that it’s a comfortable place to be yet efficient in design and layout. It’s a traditional key in the right hand side of the column, standard GM switchgear, all blended into a smooth, flowing, organically styled dash with the pews comfy and providing plenty of lateral support. There’s the MyLink system on board and housed in a seven inch touchscreen which includes phone projection which is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the LS misses out on DAB as the entry level model in the three model range. There’s an LCD screen in the dash binnacle which also houses analogue dials, appropriate for an entry level vehicle.There’s also Bluetooth streaming, USB and Auxiliary inputs but the death of the car-based CD player was also on show, with no slot to slip the silver disc in. A point off, though, for the design of the tiller, as the centrepoint is above the horizontal centreline which makes for an uncomfortable 11 and 1 hand position. Storage wise you’re looked after with a tray under the passenger seat, door pockets, good sized cup holders and sunglasses holder.There’s good rear legroom at 908 mm, headroom at 985 mm, and shoulder room is good for two adults at 1340 mm. This is inside a petite 4257 mm overall length yet packing a 2555 mm wheelbase. This means the corners are pushed out into the pumped out guards and sees the otherwise somewhat dumpy looking five door seem a touch larger than what the dimensions suggest. The height has a bit to do with it, being an inch shy of 1700 mm.Otherwise, you’re looking at a redeveloped nose, bringing the Trax into line looks wise with the Colorado and Captiva, with the flattened six sided lower air intake under the single bar upper. There’s LED driving lights but no halogens in the lower quarters. The rear is less made over, with the family resemblance to big sibling Captiva perhaps more slightly enhanced and hides a 356/785 litre cargo capacity accessed by an easy to open and lift tailgate. Naturally there’s a camera for reversing and it provides a crisp and clear picture on the screen.There’s six airbags, the now mandatory safety aids under the skin, pretensioning seatbelts, collapsible pedals, plus Holden’s standard three year or one hundred thousand kilometre warranty. Reverse sensors partner with the aforementioned camera to complete the package. At the time of writing, the first four services will cost you $229 each at intervals of one-year or 15,000km, a fair ask for peace of mind and for budget conscious buyers.

At The End Of The Drive.
The LS Trax with turbo four and six speed auto was, at best, competent in this particular vehicle. Performance was somewhat lacklustre until pushed and that transmission whine was a worry. It does though look smooth and organic inside and offers enough usable room for four adults. At around $25K driveaway it’s not a budget breaker either however. For details and to book a test drive to make up your own mind, go here:2017 Holden Trax range

Holden and HSV’s Final Hurrah: 2017 Range Released.

As Toyota recently confirmed their date for shutdown, Holden’s moving towards their end of manufacturing as well and has released information about the final cars available. There’s been some additions of features, changes in price and deletion of options. Here’s how it looks for the final locally made Holdens.Colours: there’s three new additions, with Light My Fire (orange), Spitfire Green, and Son of a Gun Grey, with the nomenclature harking back to the way colours were named in the 1970s. Metallic paints are listed as a $550 option.

Transmissions: as part of the rationalisation of the range, the venerable six speed manual transmission is virtually extinct, being available only with the V8 sedans and utes. All other cars are available with just the six speed auto.Range: Holden has dropped the SS-V, but has stayed with the SS-V Redline, whilst the Calais Sportwagon has also been dropped. This has the range sitting thus: Evoke sedan/wagon/ute; SV6 sedan/wagon/ute; SS sedan (with manual and auto)/wagon (auto only)/utes (both transmissions); SS-V redline (same structure as SS); Calais sedan (V6 auto only); Calais V (V6 and V8, auto only, sedan and wagon), and the final Caprice (V8 & auto).Features: SV6 gets satnav and HUD (Head Up Display) as standard and will have 18 inch black wheels. The SS will get the same except for 19 inch wheels. SS-V gets more of the black out treatment (grille, fender vents, mirror surrounds, instrument panel & steering wheel, and DRL surrounds), plus “V” embossed sill plates with the ute gaining a blacked out “sports bar”. The Caprice V gets the leather wrapped steerer from the SS-V

Pricing:

2017 Holden Commodore RRPs

Evoke
Sedan AT $35,490
Sportwagon AT $37,490
Ute AT $33,490

SV6
Sedan AT $40,490
Sportwagon AT $42,490
Ute AT $37,190

SS
Sedan MT $47,490
Sedan AT $49,690
Sportwagon AT $51,690
Ute MT $43,990
Ute AT $46,190

SS-V Redline
Sedan MT $54,990
Sedan AT $57,190
Sportwagon AT $59,190
Ute MT $52,490
Ute AT $54,690

Calais
Sedan V6 AT $42,540

Calais V
Sedan V6 AT $48,750
Sedan V8 AT $56,750
Sportwagon V6 AT $50,750
Sportwagon V8 AT $58,750

Caprice V
LWB Sedan V8 AT $61,490

HSV has also released details of their final made in Australia cars, including the GTSR W1, complete with 474 kW and a massive 815 Nm of torque. Just 300 will be made and will cost an eyewatering $169990. The range will consist of the ClubSport R8 LSA, the wagon version, the Maloo R8 LSA, Senator Signature and GTS. The latter will have the 435 kW/740 Nm alloy V8 with the others being powered by the slightly detuned 410 kW/691 Nm version.The bi-modal exhaust has been given a different opening point, lower in the rev range, and all models receive toque vectoring, utilising the braking system. Outside there’s been a refreshment, with different front and rear treatments, new bonnet vents, a new range of alloys, rerated suspension and “Thirty Years” badging, to commemorate the beginning of HSV in 1987. All cars will have the Tremc six speed manual as standard and will offer the GM 6L90E six speed auto and paddle shifters as a $2500 option. AP Racing will continue to offer their 390 mm/372 mm disc brakes as an option, with a price of $3495, with the GTS having them as standard.

The Maloo kickstarts the pricing, with $79990 for the manual and $82480 for the auto. The ClubSport sedan is $82990 and $85490, with the Tourer rolling in at $88990 and $91490. The Senator Signature is $95990 for both transmission options, and the GTS is manual only at $98990. All prices are plus on road costs.

 

2017 Holden Colorado LTZ: A Wheel Thing Car Review.

As Holden, the Australian arm of global giant General Motors, winds down in respect to local manufacturing, there’ll be a simultaneous increase in the vehicles being sourced from outside the island continent. The Colorado,  a name with a definitive nod to the Americas, is and has been for some years, one of those vehicles. There’s a three model range, built around the cab chassis, space cab and crew cab, with various trim levels and a mix of two and four wheel drive.A Wheel Thing normally spends a week with a car, however due to the Christmas break for 2016, had the Holden Colorado LTZ with 2.8L Duramax diesel for just under three. This included a return trip to the cheese capital of south eastern Australia, Bega, via both the coastal and inland routes.

Immediately noticeable is the sheer size of the Colorado; at five point three metres long, it offers plenty of leg room for humans in both front and rear cabin sections (1072 mm front, 872 mm in the rear) thanks to a huge 3096 mm wheelbase and 1800 mm overall height, enough shoulder room for three adults in reasonable comfort in the rear with 1472 mm, and a good sized tray complete with a simple to operate tonneau cover. The test car was coated in dirt and scratch highlighting metallic black.A redesigned front end graces the 2017 spec models, removing the droopy eye look that tied the Colorado to the Malibu and, to a lesser extent, the Commodore. A smaller headlight cluster raises the nose visually, with the heavier two bar grille also replaced with a simpler, slimmer, and more elegant design. Slimline LED daytime running lights complete the picture. From the rear and in profile, there’s little to differentiate between this and the previous, excepting the sensors front and rear.Inside, it’s a mix of standard Holden switchgear, reasonably comfortable seats (the powered fronts could use more side support and can be optioned for heating in the LTZ but, stupidly, not cooling), some questionable locations for a couple of essential pull tabs, an eight inch MyLink touchscreen (models below have seven inches) of good design with Android and Apple Carplay, a multifunction monochrome driver’s display, and, surprisingly, a forward collision alert system. Holden’s website says there’s DAB fitted as well. Rear seat passengers get their own 12V socket and you can count on Bluetooth streaming for sounds.Up front is the Isuzu sourced 2.8 litre Duramax diesel, coupled to a wide ratio six speed auto and electronic four wheel drive system. That’s operated via a centre console mounted dial. When bolted to the auto, there’s a peak torque figure of 500. That’s reduced to 440 Nm when the six speed manual is added in and both figures come in at just 2000 rpm. Peak power is a healthy 147 kilowatts and that’s at 3600 revs. After something close to 1700 kilometres of driving, the economy was 8.8 litres of dinosaur juice being consumed for every 100 kilometres covered, with Holden quoting one litre below that for the combined cycle from the 76 litre tank. That’s some good figures to look at, given the 2100+ kg weight of the LTZ before you insert people and cargo.

The engine itself, in highway cruise mode, was barely audible, with a light throttle bringing in a light chatter. Under acceleration from stand still, or for overtaking, then that chatter became a cacophony. Those wide ratios don’t make for easy overtaking quickly, with the long sweeping or straight country highway sections needing a fair measure of forward planning. If you’re towing (up to 3500 kilos) or have loaded the tray (1000 kilograms), you can expect more load noise and, naturally, a higher consumption figure

Adding to the occasional pucker factor of passing was the lack of real brake feel. There’s discs up front, drums at the rear, and a pedal that failed to instill confidence due to the lack of bite and comparative need for long travel. The all surface tyres, with a high sidewall, were grippy enough on dry tarmac and wet river sand, but also didn’t feel confident on wet tarmac, particularly in one emergency stop situation.The Colorado was taken through a short stretch of river to test both the four wheel drive and the wading depth capability of 600 mm. With a simple wrist flick, the dial is moved from 2WD to 4WD, and it’s noticeable in the drive train immediately. Eased into the softer shore sand than then gently but consistently run, the two combined to cover the twenty or so metres easily, with the 28 and 22 degree approach and departure angles allowing ease of entry and exit.

Match this up against a vastly improved ride quality, however, and the Colorado delights. Gone is the twitchy, jiggly ride, replaced by a firmer yet still compliant handling package, thanks to re-rated leaf springs at the rear and a nicely tuned double wishbone front. The 265/60/18 rubber from Bridgestone adds to the comfortable flow the vehicle has. Yes, it’s a touch floaty over the rear yet even that was easily controlled thanks to the addition of luggage. On the sweeping curves of the highway south of Narooma, and on the picturesque Snowy Mountains Highway, this extra stability became evident and allowed for more finesse to be applied to the driving style. On downhill runs, a system called Grade Braking comes into play, dropping the gearbox down a ratio or two, and it becomes a fine mix between the foot playing the brake pedal and accelerator.

Handling is predictable, with a well weighted steering set up. Although somewhat vague on centre, it does tighten up considerably and provides good feedback to the driver. It’s not a system that likes being hustled though, preferring the driver to communicate  a direction change gently but will begrudgingly accede to a sudden change of direction request. Once you’ve had some time behind the wheel, you’ll get a feel for how the system responds to your input and will be able to judge for yourself just how communicative it can be when required. Turning circle is a smaller than expected 12.3 metres. Acceleration is the same. Although there’s more than an abundance of torque, the ratios in the ‘box don’t translate to rapidity off the line, but will give some urge mid range at highway speeds. Ideal for long overtakes on a country road, for example.Naturally you’ll get Holden’s standard three year/100,000 kilometre warranty, plus lifetime capped servicing, 12 months roadside assist and Holden’s new 24 Hour test service when you’re in the market for a new car such as the Colorado.

At The End Of The Drive.
The Colorado has tough competition in the form of Ranger, Navara, Triton, and Toyota’s seemingly unstoppable HiLux. However there’s a good price in place, with just $50490 for the LTZ. Looks are well and truly in the eye of the beholder and the 2017 Colorado’s facelift brings it back into play over the previous model, in the opinion of A Wheel Thing. The onboard range of features and tech, the carlike ride quality, and the roomy interior bring the vehicle well and truly into the ring. The Colorado is now a stand-up contender in the family four door ute stakes.

Go here for further information on the 2017 Holden Colorado range