Holden Commodore Executive V6 VZ

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Keywords: holden, 2004 holden commodore vz executive

Description: NRMA's Car Review of the 2004 Holden Commodore VZ Executive reveals that a brand new powerplant improves the vehicle across the board.

The VZ Holden Commodore range along with the WL Caprice and Statesman have received a significant upgrade. Visually the differences are minor but it is beneath the skin where the biggest changes have been made. Not since the VN Commodore was released back in 1988 and the supercharged V6 engine offered in the VS range in 1995, has the Commodore received a new design six cylinder engine.

The new engine is known as the Alloytec and as the name implies, it is an all aluminium design, featuring double overhead camshafts, and four valves per cylinder, with continuously variable valve timing. Two versions are available. They are the Alloytec and Alloytec 190. Both engines are 3.6 litres in capacity. The Alloytec produces 175kW and the Alloytec 190 produces 190kW. The additional power increase has been achieved by using variable valve timing on both inlet and exhaust camshafts and using a variable length intake manifold.

The Alloytec 190 is only available in the SV6 and Calais Commodores. The Berlina, Acclaim and Executive [tested] models have the 175 kW version.

The engine is significant for Holden Ltd in Australia as it is an integral part of General Motors Global engine strategy for V6 engines.

Considering the considerable investment Holden Ltd has made in the manufacture of the new engine, the pricing for the VZ Executive range has increased only slightly over the outgoing VY Series Two. The VZ Executive automatic sedan retails for $35,410 and the wagon retails for $37,350. These prices are inclusive of air conditioning, which is a $2,250 option.

On test the new Commodore recorded a best figure of 8.7 litres/100km, on the highway drive cycle and on the city drive cycle recorded a figure of 13.5 litres/100km. Both these figures are an improvement over the last VY Commodore tested in 2003. Whilst it is not by a large margin they are above average figures for its class.

The new Alloytec engine produces 23kW more power than the previous Ecotec engine, at a slightly higher rpm. The torque figure is also 15 Nm higher than its predecessor and its peak figure is developed at a more useable 2,800 rpm - this is down 800 rpm over the previous Ecotec engine. Drivers' familiar with Commodores will immediately notice a different start up note; once started the Alloytec settles into an extremely smooth idle.

Jumping out of a VY Commodore with the older Ecotec engine into the VZ, the driver doesn't really feel any huge differences. Initially they feel very similar in their characteristics despite the new engine's clear advantages in power and torque. Acceleration figures tell a different story with the new Alloytec VZ clearly better than the previous VY tested in 2003 in most tests, and only 0.1 second slower in the 50 to 80 km/h passing test.

Overall the ride felt taut with plenty of suspension compliance insulating the occupants from rough sections of road and delivered a high level of comfort.

Smoothness is an area where the new engine has made impressive gains. The old engine was noisy and became coarse when the engine revs passed 4,000 rpm. The new Alloytec engine shows the benefits of a new modern design approach, with its multi valves and double overhead camshaft design allowing the engine to breath and effortlessly reach its 6,000 rpm redline. The Alloytec misses out on the new five speed automatic transmission. It uses a heavily revised version of the four speed used in earlier versions and performed well on test. Up shifts and downshifts were smooth and precise. One suspects however, the package would be better with the new auto five speed transmission.

The new engine in the VZ Commodore represents an investment of $400 million by Holden Ltd. This new generation V6 sets the standard for new and future models.

Driving the new VZ briefly doen't really showcase the improvements that have been made to the vehicle in terms of driveability and fuel savings, perhaps reminding us how good the previous models were.

Testing the new VZ over a longer period highlights how good the subtle changes made to vehicle are. The new engine delivers improvemnts across the board - you just need some miles in the vehicle to feel the difference.



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