This has led to a perception that the new Commodore isn’t as good as the VF model it replaces. This might be justified for those lamenting the loss of V8 versions such as the SS-V Redline, however it’s a very different story when comparing the lesser powered versions from each generation. Anyone used to the old VF SV6 Sportwagon will be pleasantly surprised by its 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol RS successor when it comes to power, ride, handling and features
Priced at $39,490, the RS Sportwagon comes with all the standard features found in the $3600-cheaper LT Sportwagon including autonomous emergency braking, but adds cosmetic enhancements including a sports body kit, bigger 18-inch alloy wheels, front sports seats, leather sport steering, and additional active safety features including blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert.
- The 191kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is a sweeter unit than the more powerful, but heavier V6 that’s also available. It’s marginally less powerful than the 210kW/350Nm V6 in its VF SV6 Sportwagon predecessor, but a lot more refined and quick off the mark thanks to the nine-speed automatic transmission.
- The 2.0-litre petrol is also reasonably economical, with an official 7.6L/100km combined rating. We achieved about 8.7L/100km in our real-world testing, which isn’t too bad.
- Ride comfort is excellent. It’s very quiet and feels like its gliding along the road on the RS spec’s 18-inch wheels.
- This is a lot of car for around $40,000, with a features list that rivals some premium German models. Standard equipment includes the aforementioned active safety features, plus; dusk-sensing headlights, LED daytime running lights, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, keyless entry, dual-zone air-conditioning, power-adjusted driver’s seat, 18-inch alloy wheels, hands-free power-operated tailgate and an excellent seven-speaker sound system.
- The uncluttered interior is well put together with German build quality that, dare I say it, exceeds that of its Aussie predecessor.
- The attractive dashboard looks modern and is intuitively laid out.
- The MyLink infotainment system is simple to use and features Apple CarPlay/Android Auto to sync with your phone’s music, maps and other functions.
- The cloth sports front seats are very comfortable with great back and under thigh support.
- It’s not as big as the old Commodore, but rear seat passengers still benefit from plenty of legroom. The Sportwagon doesn’t have as much of a sloping roofline as the liftback sedan, which will please taller occupants. Rear seat passengers get their own heating and cooling vents at the back of the centre console.
- The RS Sportwagon boot holds up to 793-litres which pushes out to 1665-litres with the seats down, which isn’t bad considering the sleek roofline.
- The RS spec doesn’t come with the more powerful and economical 125kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo diesel that would be ideal for country driving and long-distance touring.
- The interior is a little drab, with bland textures and monochrome colour scheme.
- Despite being a wagon there’s no room for a full-size spare tyre, meaning you have to make do with a space saver.
- Towing capacity is about 1800kg, which is a lot less than the VF Commodore SV6’s 2100kg and that of most large SUVs.
- Having to put up with the “that’s not a Commodore” crowd’s prejudice.
ARE THERE ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER
While the ZB Commodore is classed as a large car, it’s not much bigger than most medium-sized cars, which expands its competitor set. Similarly priced wagons from both segments include the diesel-only Ford Mondeo Ambiente, Hyundai i40 Premium Tourer, Mazda 6 Touring, Skoda Superb 162TSI, Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium and Volkswagen Passat 132TSI.