With its VE Commodore SV6 Sportwagon, Holden has effectively created a twenty-first century style of family car which combines wagon practicality, sporting appeal and outstanding fuel efficiency.
The much enhanced 3.6-litre V6 which benefits from direct fuel-injection now develops 210 kW of power, the province of a good V8 only a few years back. In combination with a six-speed automatic transmission, it endows this stylish load-carrier with sparkling performance and radically improved fuel economy.
What You Get
Perhaps for the first time in the 31-year history of Commodore wagons, Holden has introduced a six-cylinder model with outstanding appeal to the enthusiast driver.
The question might now be: why buy a sedan when I can have this wagon instead? In SV6 guise the Sportwagon lives right up to the promise of its styling to offer a less expensive and more fuel-efficient alternative to an SS V8 version.
Under The Hood
The new version of the 3.6-litre Global V6 has not received all the enhancements that make the 3.0-litre engine such a cracker, but it is nevertheless significantly better than the outgoing unit. Not only is there a big jump in power, but this engine is smoother, quieter and uses a lot less fuel. It is only in direct comparison with its smaller sibling that a slight lack of refinement is evident.
If the old engine scored 6 out of 10, this one earns seven and a half. Maximum power is 210 kW at 6400 rpm and there are 350 Nm of torque at 2900 rpm. Although the official fuel number is 10.3, real world driving should see most owners achieving closer to 9.0. Carbon dioxide emissions are 245 grams per kilometre. The SV6 Sportwagon has a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
The bold exterior styling is not matched by the interior which is subdued by comparison. It is quite attractive though with nice touches such as the leather-wrapped steering wheel and transmission selector. Integrated Bluetooth technology is standard, as well as air, cruise, a decent sound system and rear park-assist.
The seats are well-shaped and prove supportive even on the very long road trips of the kind the SV6 Sportwagon relishes.
Exterior & Styling
The SV6's 18-inch alloys, bodykit, fog lights and dual stainless steel exhaust outlets all integrate superbly with those sleek, low-slung Sportwagon lines to create an outstanding aesthetic.Choosing this wagon over its sedan counterpart entails no compromise on style.
Choosing this wagon over its sedan counterpart entails no compromise on style.
On The Road
As with all VE Commodores, the blight of this vehicle is its fat A-pillars. Extra vigilance is required and you need to train yourself to move your head more to ensure nothing is hidden in the pillars. Commodore wagons have always boasted sedan-like driving dynamics but none more so than the short-wheelbase VE variants.
Steering, ride and handling are all excellent and well matched to the strong performance. The fact that even the Omega variants of the VE range ride and handle so impressively - that they are true drivers' cars with excellent engine performance and dynamics - merely makes the fat pillars all the more irritating.
There are some minor ergonomic irritations, which can almost send you back to the compendious owner's handbook. But once you've zeroed the trip meter four or five times, you get the hang of it. And how often do you change radio stations?
Some buyers might prefer to be able to specify the manual transmission but the new automatic has the same number of ratios and is better suited to the vehicle. This stylish and accomplished wagon is one of several standout models in the revised VE lineup.
Since its launch in 2008 the Commodore Sportwagon has trounced its more conventional Falcon rival on sales.
In reality, it has no direct rival, especially in impressive and well-specified SV6 guise. As the sales results suggest, the Sportwagon's closest competitor is the Commodore sedan! One might point out, however, that its styling seems to owe something to the more expensive Chrysler 300C Touring.
Genuinely sporty character with fantastic fuel economy. Great styling.
Fat A-pillars restrict vision, average ergonomics.