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Holden’s New Zealand dealers launch the 2018 Commodore

Holden’s here to stay, as the 2018 Commodore arrives at its dealers nationwide. Jack Yan checks out the Wellington launch
March 23, 2018/8.57

Above, from top: Johnston Ebbett on Taranaki Street, Wellington. Looking very modern: the base model Holden Commodore LT. For the lifestyle buyer, the Holden Commodore Calais V Tourer, with 320 PS. The potent Holden Commodore VXR, which originally joined us on the media launch.

The Holden Commodore, for which Lucire attended the media launch earlier this month, was revealed to the New Zealand public at dealers last Saturday. We popped along to Johnston Ebbett, the Wellington Holden dealer, where a good cross-section of Commodores were on display, including a Calais V, a VXR, a Calais V Tourer, an RS-V Wagon, and a bright red LT.
   Holden fans popped by—one customer had an impressive HT Monaro GTS, which he parked round the back—and heritage models were also on display, to remind people that the latest Commodore came from a long line.
   Chatting with one sales’ rep, there apparently is a wrongful impression among the buying public that Holden was closing. It was most likely a case of rumours getting out of hand, with people misunderstanding that the closure of one factory didn’t mean the brand was going away; just as Cadbury’s closure of its Dunedin factory doesn’t mean the end of Cadbury’s chocolate on local supermarket shelves.
   Clearly there’s a real exercise here to tell people that Holden is sticking around, and the product is stronger than ever. In our earlier drives of four different models, we found that the 2018 Commodore is superior to its predecessor, and it takes on the CD- and D-segments admirably, beating out its immediate competition with sharp pricing, tech, and power and torque.
   We also had a look at other Holdens that Johnston Ebbett had parked at the dealership, including an outgoing Calais V and HSV GTS-R, neither of which had dated much since the VF appeared in 2013; however, there’s no denying the 2018 model is a much more modern, efficient design. There were also two Astras, a C-segment range we rate very highly, in hatchback and estate versions, and the Astra sedan, a rebadged Chevrolet Cruze, that, while related, didn’t have a design as nicely resolved as its European namesakes. The Astra should sell itself—all it takes is people visiting a showroom, and if there’s any justice, Holden should win more conquests from Toyota, Hyundai and Ford in the segment.
   Also proudly in the showroom was a Holden Equinox—our road test will appear soon in these pages.
   Johnston Ebbett had picked some decent heritage models: two 1970s HQ Kingswoods (one sedan, one wagon), which were the archetypal Holden to many Kiwis of a certain age; an incredibly optioned-out and original 1980s VL with the Nissan RB20 motor; and a mid-1990s VS Ute. These models showed that Holden has been through a lot—little links the HQ and VL other than the marque. Similarly, the old V-cars are a departure from the 2018 ZB Commodore, yet the name’s still here. As we noted in our launch piece, the new Commodore has been designed for local conditions, with Holden’s Australian team there in development from a very early stage. It’s also worth remembering that if production had continued in South Australia, the ZB is still the car that would be in showrooms. If you have to choose anywhere other than Australia for where your Commodore could come from, Germany’s probably top of your list. The new German-made Commodore’s quality is a noticeable jump up, no doubt in part thanks to the newer tooling.
   The 2018 Commodore is in dealers now nationally.—Jack Yan, Publisher

Above, from top: Holden Commodore Calais V at the Johnston Ebbett showroom. Commodore RS-V Wagon. Holden Commodore VXR looking very sharp with its 20-inch wheels—it looks more impressive here than it did at the launch. Holden Kingswood sedan, HQ series, with non-standard wheels. The HQ Wagon counterpart, similarly appointed. Holden Commodore Berlina (VL series), in much the same form as it left Manthel Motors in the 1980s. Holden Commodore Ute from the mid-1990s. The outgoing Holden Commodore Calais V, going for a steal with a special at NZ$50,000. The potent HSV GTS-R with 585 PS, not directly replaced. Holden Astra wagon, which we rate more highly than the Ford Focus Turnier or Toyota’s Vitz- (Yaris-) based Corolla wagon.

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design / living / Lucire / New Zealand
Filed by Jack Yan

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