Welcome to the MOTOR Awards for 2017, where we recognise the best and worst or the year.
In this instalment we give out three awards – Saddest Farewell, Most Disappointing, and Best innovation.
SADDEST FAREWELL: Holden Commodore
Even placing sentimentality aside, the departure of this broad-shouldered Aussie would still be the tear jerker of the year. Romanticism, however, would almost have us forget that before the brilliantly consistent V8-engined VF (and especially VF Series II) Commodore range, the Holden large car had been more inconsistent in the past.
Here’s a quick recap. Old engines in the VB, a dud four-cylinder in the VC and VH, an ageing body and chassis dynamics in the VL, a bloated body and poor quality in the VN, a V-car platform that was dating rapidly in the 2000s, while even the mostly excellent VE lacked braking and auto transmission finesse. This VF swansong, to paraphrase a prime minister from way back, brought home the bacon.
There is no single weak link with the VF Series II Commodore SS-V Redline. Perhaps, to be picky, cabin quality still remains below that of similarly sized German rivals. But tell ’em the price, son, then look to the enormous back seat with one of the best benches around.
Anyway, the Zeta platform delivered damping finesse in the places that mattered, and that’s not in the dashboard structure. The VF’s ability to shrink around its driver, with an unwavering front-end trailed by a rear that subtly edges into oversteer while always remaining planted, is a Commodore hallmark developed to near-perfection here.
The sharp and consistent steering, firm Brembo braking, fabulous Competition ESC, roaring 6.2-litre V8 engine backed by an ear-tingling exhaust, and smart auto (in Sport) were not merely support acts, but part of such an enriching whole that you can only hope that a bit of the magic filters to its successor, which will be tweaked by the same guys and girls who did this one.
Several punters – and misguided media – who would never give the Holden a chance because of its working-class roots, are now swooning over the admittedly decent Kia Stinger. Go figure. But maybe, in this Instagrammed, instant-gratification world, faux is the word of the year. Anything to attract likes and followers, I guess.
The Commodore SS-V Redline may, in some ways – size, cylinder count – be typecast from another era, but the irony is the VF Series II still provides greater depth of ability and sophistication than some big-name imports. Thankfully there’s enough on the used-car market for many to keep the dream alive – for now.
But either way, we’ll miss ya, big guy.
MOST DISSAPOINTING: Subaru Levorg
Subaru would rather you didn’t think of the Levorg as a WRX wagon, but if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck…
Buoyed by memories of the old Impreza hatch, the Levorg concept really got us excited.
The CVT-only thing was a bit of a bummer, but a practical family car with 197kW/350Nm, an all-wheel drive chassis and decent looks (in GT S B-Spec guise at least) seemed to have plenty going for it.
Then we drove it and experienced the woeful body control, elastic, feel-free steering and whining, unenthusiastic engine.
Subaru claims it’s fixed it with the updated model range; we’ll find out next month.
BEST INNOVATION: Lamborghini Huracán Performante’s ALA aero
What do you do when you’re a small company that wants to get one-up on the likes of Porsche and Ferrari? You get clever and harness the power of the wind.
A quartet of flaps operated by a trio of electric motors are key to the crazy cornering capabilities of the Lamborghini Huracan Performante and its stunning 6min52sec Nurburgring lap time.
Downforce is increased by 750 per cent, yet with little to no drag penalty thanks to the flaps opening and closing as the situation dictates.
Expect to see more applications of the technology – from Lamborghini and others – soon.