No questions here – the all-new VF Commodore presents easily the most upscale, sophisticated and high-tech interior ever seen in locally-made cars
“The VF will introduce cutting edge driver technologies and we’ve ramped up every facet of the interior layout to match,” commented Holden design chief Andrew Smith. “We set out to over deliver. Consequently, there’s a level of refinement you’d expect of a high-end European product.”
At the end of 2009, Holden had finalized three concepts for the interior, but it was the one crafted by designer Joe Rudolph which got the green light as the two-tier layout best met the brief of being, wide, spacious and sporty. The design also emerged on-top from consumer clinics.
From there, the design was ‘math-led’ using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and 3D Digital Design. But of course, interiors are ‘touchy-feely’ so the next step was clay modeling which was then revised and digitized back to CAD before final validation in late 2011.
Holden sought a driver-focused cockpit behind the wheel and first-up you notice VF Holden Commodore’s small, curved instrument binnacle (leather-trimmed in the Calais V). To the left is the large eight-inch touchscreen drive information display (including audio and climate control) with a flat surface underneath for the buttons (similar to the layout in premium BMW and Infiniti models). The screen has several pages which you can change via the right-hand indicator stalk (which is sourced from General Motors in North America).
Steering wheels come in two designs, the Calais V we sampled delivering a beautifully crafted, leather-wrapped three-spoke, flat-bottom design with textured hand-grip pads. Buttons for the forward collision alert and lane departure warning systems are on the left-hand spoke and cruise control, audio and telephone buttons on the right spoke. The wheel itself is 370mm in diameter – 7mm smaller than the current VE design.
All change too for the centre console which is a curved, sweeping design with twin cup-holders, an extra storage bin ahead of the gear lever and switches for the automatic parking assistance system and electric park brake (the traditional handbrake lever is gone, freeing-up extra console space). At night, this area of the interior and the door-opener recesses are illuminated in soft ice-blue ambient lighting.
In the centre stack in the Calais V was the automatic climate control system which features digital readouts of the set temperature right on the actual control dials (for less distraction when adjusting). Above was just a little timber-grain highlight trim running the full width of the curved lower dashboard panel – all very stylish and upscale.
And here’s another departure – mounted low on the drivers’ door trim is the boot release button. Yep, Commodore’s traditional boot release in the glovebox is now history (a direct response to customer feedback).
The seats are a new design and feature nice headrests which integrate smartly into the seatback. Front seat frames are the General Motors corporate frame, but locally-developed foam is used for the shaping.
There are two seat types – ‘Comfort’ and ‘Sport’ however the Calais V version runs a ‘Comfort’ base cushion and ‘Sport’ back cushion.
“There is one VF interior design, so colour and trim is vital to separate the models,” explained Sharon Gauci, Holden’s colour and trim designer. Responding to trends apparent in new home design and also to customer feedback, Holden has given the new VF Commodore a bright-looking interior with bright titanium highlights offset by small amounts of jet black for a premium look.
And they’re justifiably proud of their work – in research clinics with consumers, the premium look of VF Commodore’s interior scored 76 per-cent positive which is the highest score in General Motors history.
The upscale appearance comes from both design and material choices – man-made suede in two-tone light grey and charcoal and real leather for the seats in the Calais we sampled. Holden sources the interior trim from a variety of local and international sources.
Our day was a tantalizing preview of what’s to come with the all-new Commodore. Sure at this stage, four months out from launch, Holden was naturally scarce on precise details – the intention was to communicate preliminary exterior and interior design details ahead of the Chevrolet SS unveiling at Daytona Speedway next week.
As much as anything, it’s this re-energized left-hand-drive North American export program which is the big news for the all-new VF Holden Commodore.
“No other car created in Australia is as technologically advanced, we’re very proud that not only was the VF designed and engineered here, but it will also be exported to the USA for GM’s biggest global brand, Chevrolet,” enthused Holden chief Mike Devereux.