DABAS blog post early May 2018: The Journey to the VF Series ll Commodore; The last Australian manufactured Commodore.
Hello; After a recent client enquiry, requesting DABAS to find a used “VE” Commodore, no older than 2014, with low kilometres, hence, l did explain to the client, that by 2014 the VF Commodore series was being produced by GM Holden, a much more advanced model – in so many ways – compared to the earlier VE Commodore series, The client admitted he was not a car enthusiast and to him from VE to VFII they all looked the same; he was not aware of the evolution plus engineering /safety advancements in the Commodore between 2006 and 2017.
In light of the above, in this week’s Blog DABAS thought it may be a helpful sentimental journey for potential used-car buyers if DABAS looked back “generally in nature” on the evolution leading to the VFII series commodore, which may help in choosing used-car VE to VFII series model variants available to suit your lifestyle.
OK, let’s begin: General Motors Holden launched the VE Commodore sedan in 2006; it is the first Commodore model designed entirely in Australia, as opposed to the superseded models that were based on an adapted Opel-sourced platform; given this and high public expectations of quality, the budget in developing the car allegedly exceeded A$1 billion. Underpinned by the new Holden-developed GM Zeta platform, the VE features more sophisticated independent suspension all round and near-even 50:50 weight distribution, leading to improved handling. Engines and transmissions are largely carried over from the previous VZ model. However, a new six-speed GM 6L80–E automatic transmission was introduced for V8 model variants, replacing the old four-speed automatic now relegated to base models. The design of this new model included innovative features to help minimise export costs, such as a symmetrical centre console that housed a flush-fitting hand brake lever to facilitate its conversion to left-hand drive. Internationally, the Commodore is again badge engineered as the Chevrolet Lumina and Chevrolet Omega, along with its new export market in the United States as the Pontiac G8 (discontinued as of 2010 along with the Pontiac brand)
Many variants by Holden’s performance arm, HSV, were released soon after the sedan’s 2006 debut, – (DABAS may discuss the VE to VFII series HSV performance models/variants in a future blog: This week’s blog page will focus on the more publicly accessible variants) – followed soon after by the long-wheelbase WM Statesman/Caprice models: (To be featured in a future blog)
The VE utility did not enter production until 2007
The VE V8 Calais was also awarded the Wheels Magazines Car of the Year, being the fifth Commodore/Calais model to do so.
The VE SPORTSWAGON began production in July 2008.
Holden offered limited-edition models based on the VE Commodore Omega: some are below
VE SV6: Building on the Omega, the SV6 is equipped with the more powerful High Output variant of the Alloytec V6 engine, coupled to a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. Air conditioning, a key feature missing on the launch Omega, came standard on the SV6. A body kit and sports suspension similar to the V8 Commodore SS/SS V variants is also fitted. The SV6 sports the Performance interior look, characterised by an accentuated matte black centre console and red lighting, as opposed to the silver functional-style interior of the Omega.
V-Series: Introduced in October 2006, the Commodore V featured air conditioning, a sports-oriented body kit including 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and colour-matched wing mirrors and exterior door handles.
Lumina: Debuted in June 2007 with a luxury theme including the Berlina grille and the original Calais V seven-spoke alloy wheels. Specified identically to the V-Series with the exception of the rear spoiler, the Lumina saw the addition of rear-parking sensors and Bluetooth connectivity.
60th Anniversary: Released on 1 May 2008 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the 48–215, Holden’s first vehicle. Aside from the unique 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seat inserts, and “60th Anniversary” badging, the anniversary model is essentially identical to the Lumina in terms of both equipment and styling.
International: Sedans and sportwagons entered production in mid-March 2009. Internationals are appointed with launch VE Calais V alloy wheels, front fog-lamps, a six-disc CD changer, leather upholstered trim and steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity and rear park assist.
Holden reintroduced the International in October 2009. Offered in sedan and sportwagon body styles, the second iteration was fitted with the 3.0-litre SIDI V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission; a 3.6-litre LPG Alloytec V6 engine with four-speed automatic transmission option was available for the sedan only. Extra features include 18-inch alloy wheels, Berlina front grille, leather seat trim and steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity and rear park assist for the sedan (already standard on sportwagons).
Z Series: Released on 5 September 2012 as a special edition Commodore. It was released to help assist in bolstering the slowing sales of the VE range and to help send off the last model VEs before the next model VF was released. The Z Series combined luxury and sports features for fantastic value. The models that had the Z badging were the Omega, SV6, SS and SS V. Features included leather seat trim (Omega and SSV), Bluetooth connect, rear parking sensors, rear-parking camera, 18-inch WM Caprice alloys (Omega), rear lip spoiler, 19 inch alloys (SV6 and SS).
The sedan and sportwagon came as Z Series, SV6 Z Series, SS Z Series and SS V Z Series.
Some more information on the Utility
The VE utility did not enter production until 2007; a coupe utility based on the VE Commodore. It was unveiled to the media in August 2007, with showroom sales beginning later in the month. This generation of the Holden Ute was aimed as a “lifestyle vehicle”, a shift from the traditional “workhorse/tradespersons” market. The VE series Ute was marketed as the Holden Ute rather than as the Holden Commodore Ute.
Variants of the VE Ute produced/available to buy over the manufacturing production timeline,
Omega: The base model, having similar standard features to the Commodore Omega sedan but can carry more than the SS-V, SS and SV6. It has the standard 3.6-litre V6 180 kW and 330 Nm. The manual version of the Omega came with the 3.6-litre High-Output V6 with 195 kW and 340 Nm but only until the mid-2009 MY10 update arrived.
SV6: A sportier version of the V6 Ute, the SV6 replaced the S-pack from previous models. This has the 3.6-litre High-Output V6 with 195 kW and 340 Nm: Which was updated to the 210 kW and 350 Nm engine.
Thunder SV6 Ute: The thunder SV6 Ute received charcoal-coloured 19-inch alloy wheels, satellite navigation; leather seat bolsters and Thunder badging.
SS: The SS Ute is the basic V8 version with the same 6-litre V8 as the Commodore sedan with 270 kW and 530 Nm.
And as time went on in the series more variants were added to the series;
SS-V: A higher spec edition of the SS and based on the SS-V Sedan, it has a 6-litre V8 with 270 kW and 530 Nm.
SS-V Redline (Series II): A performance version of the SS-V offering Brembo brakes, 19-inch Alloy wheels, FE3 Super Sports Performance Suspension and a tyre inflator kit.
SS-V Z Series: A variant that combines luxury and sport features, sold in late 2012/early 2013. Standard features include: 19-inch forged alloy wheels, front Brembo (red) brakes, FE3 Suspension, Z series carpet mats, Z series badges, rear-view camera, rear park assist, exterior chrome highlights, leather-wrapped steering wheel, chrome highlights in instrument cluster.
The Ute came with all variants except for the Omega-based Z Series model.
Unlike the previous VU–VZ generation, no double-cab, cab-chassis or AWD variants are offered.
In late 2008 Holden made changes to the VE Commodore, including the addition of a passenger seatbelt-reminder system. The rollout of such modifications allowed the VE range to be upgraded in stages (dependent on model variant) to the five-star ANCAP safety rating during 2008 and 2009.
The September 2009 MY10 update to the VE Commodore platform introduces a new standard engine–a 3.0-litre Spark Ignition Direct Injection (SIDI) V6 on the Omega and Berlina, with a 3.6-litre version of the same reserved for all other V6 variants. The standard transmission is now a six-speed GM 6L50 automatic, replacing the four-speed in Omega and Berlina models and the five-speed in higher luxury levels. A six-speed manual is still available in sport models. Holden claimed the new powertrains provided better fuel economy than some other smaller four-cylinder cars on the market at the time; the 3.0-litre version is rated at 9.3 L/100 km. The 3.0L produces 190 kW- more than the earlier 3.6L and more than the old 5.0L Holden V8. The new 3.6 produces a fraction more at 210 kW although the difference is negligible during the daily driving commute.
In mid-2010 Holden released the VE Series 2 (VEII); the major difference saw the introduction of the Holden iQ system, a centre-mounted LCD display that provides navigation, Bluetooth, and controls to the stereo. There were also small alterations to the styling and a number of other small changes that DABAS is aware of.
The VE Series: Its journey to a 5-star safety rating across the range – by November 2009.
Engine packaging became a contentious issue during the VE series Commodore’s development. Holden’s designers wanted the engine positioned well behind the front axle to allow short overhangs and an overall sportier appearance, whereas the crash engineers were concerned that this would reduce the body’s impact absorption in an accident. Negotiation between designers and crash engineers resulted in moving some of the engine components, including relocating the battery to the boot, freeing up valuable front-end space. By having the engine moved back and further down, the VE Commodore also benefits from near perfect 50:50 weight distribution across all variants, leading to superior handling. Crash engineers introduced several other safety initiatives, including relocating the fuel tank in front of the rear-axle line, instead of behind. A more crash-resistant rear-end was also seen as necessary. The design, though, had to incorporate a spacious boot and a spare-wheel bay that could house the largest-sized wheel to be fitted to the VE model variants. Crash-test results from Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) rated the VE lower in the offset frontal impact test than the previous generation Commodore. The overall crash score was marginally higher than the outgoing VZ, due to improvements in side- impact protection giving a score of 27.45 out of 37 or a four-star rating out of a possible five.
Holden’s standardisation of six airbags in March 2008 for MY09 made the VE eligible for the ANCAP side-pole test, yielding additional scoring points. The second stage of the VE’s safety rollout in October 2008 for MY09.5 included the addition of an energy absorbing steering column shroud and redesigned rear-door latches across the VE range. The inclusion of a seatbelt reminder on the Omega sedan yielded another point, thus allowing the Omega sedan to score five stars, or a score of 33.45 when tested the following December. The Omega Sportwagon was the next model to be awarded the full five stars the following February, following the addition of a seatbelt reminder in the Sportwagon’s production. The remaining VE models, including the Ute and WM Statesman/Caprice, which had already received most of the safety upgrades, received the seatbelt reminder as standard fitment as of MY10 production from August 2009. As a result, all VE sedan and Sportwagon variants along with the extended length WM models received the five-star rating.
The VE Ute officially received the rating on 19 October 2009, making the entire line-up of Australian-made Holdens five-star ANCAP rated.
The VF Commodore launched in 2013, was a major overhaul of the VE, it was officially revealed to the public on 10 February 2013 in Melbourne. The body shell, suspension and electrics of the GM Zeta platform had been thoroughly reworked to reduce weight, improving handling and fuel efficiency. Changes to the model line-up saw the deletion of the Berlina nameplate (which was merged with the standard Calais variant, which had represented the smallest share of sales in the Commodore’s line-up) and the base model was renamed from Omega to Evoke.
VF II Commodore (late 2015)
A Series II update (VF II) was launched in late 2015, introducing minor styling revisions at the front, while the biggest change was the arrival of a 304 kW LS3 across the entire V8 range. In addition, the SS Redline V’s gear ratios and the Redline’s suspension tune were also revised.
Standard features across this Commodore range included front- and rear- parking sensors, reverse camera and auto park assist, whereas high specifications models such as the Calais-V and SS-V Redline models also feature, as standard, forward- and reverse- collision alert system and a colour heads-up display – all possible thanks to the VF’s electronics now being compatible with those of more developed overseas GM model cars, thus resulting in the new VF II Commodore being much more cost effective to manufacture: leading to the recommended retail pricing at the time, being reduced across the range, saving at the time up to AU$5,000 for the entry model and up to AU$10,000 for the Calais V V8 and SS V Redline.
And also for the car enthusiasts – Did you know?
– That very soon after the Australian VFII Commodore range’s launch and with the lead up to the much anticipated Daytona 500 weekend, a more powerful and better equipped export version of the VF Commodore SS also made its debut in Daytona, Florida, as the MY14 Chevrolet SS. To maximise the Chevrolet SS’s profile in the United States, GM also replaced, in NASCAR Racing, the Chevrolet Impala with the SS, which then raced in Nascar’s premier series throughout 2017; then with production ceasing of these models – due to GM Holden’s closure of its manufacturing plants in Australia – by the next season, it was replaced by the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the 2018 season.
DABAS hopes this blog page has been helpful in familiarising yourself – “as a general introduction” – to this model series,
The selected VE to VFII details, model variants, specifications and advice on this blog page are to be considered a-general in nature-introduction-to the VE to VFII COMMODORE model /series: Any pricing mentioned would be considered expired long before this blog page’s publication posting date.
DABAS’s research has found there were a few regularly noted issues that arose with these models. As with all used cars as they age, problems can arise at times, leading to, at times, expensive repairs. We are aware of a number of common problems with these cars as they aged and the kilometres on the odometer built up: DABAS has compiled a checklist for the VE TO VFII Commodore which we will supply and discuss at our face-to-face consultation-meeting, to be used to your benefit. If you are considering a Holden VE to VFII as your used-car purchasing choice, we can discuss this list at that time. At DABAS we do recommend all used cars selected undergo a full VACC or RACV vehicle inspection prior to your final purchase decision being made.
We know that buying a car can be one of the biggest purchases in your life. We look forward to having a chat when the need arises for you to update into your next car to assess your personal car-safety requirements and buying needs to suit your lifestyle,
And most importantly , your set specified budget! To contact DABAS to discuss your needs . . . please click here.