General Motors is breathing a little fire into the belly of its laid back, family-friendly Cadillac XTS. Starting in 2014, GM will add its new twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 to the luxury sedanís already healthy options list.
Said to be the highest output V6 in company history, the new engine provides a significant increase in power over the 2013 XTSís naturally aspirated 3.6, which is only good for 304 ponies and 264 lb-ft. The new all-aluminum engine will reportedly reach a peak horsepower rating of 410-hp and torque of 430 lb-ft.
GM first introduced the new twin-turbo mill in March at the New York Auto Show, where it announced the engine would be an option on the 2014 Cadillac CTS. Unlike the CTS sedan's eight-speed transmission, reports from the manufacturer indicate that the twin-turbo V6 on the XTS will be mated to a six-speed automatic. The optional all-aluminum engine also features a block that is cast in a new way, along with stronger connecting rods and a new direct injection fuel system.
While Cadillac expects the new engine to deliver 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway in the CTS, it has not yet released MPG figures for it in the XTS. Nor has theautomaker released performance specs. Regardless, we expect them to be notably both lower and better, respectively, than the current V6, making the XTS ismore fun to drive vehicle overall.
There's a lot of stories to tell about the VF Commodore. And here's a selection of fast facts, quirky bits and tech snippets that you might not know.
The new Commodore will be available with a Bose sound system for the first time (the premium system was previously reserved for the Commodore-based Caprice limousine). The Bose system will be powered by the same Panasonic head unit used throughout the new VF Commodore range (Bose does not make any head units), although a Bose amplifier and speakers deliver on better sound quality.
Engineers considered dropping the CD player for the VF Commodore. But it was deemed too important so remains as a single disc unit across the range. The onboard hard drive that was part of the VE Series 2 update has been dropped, though, losing out to the march of streaming music from sources such as Pandora, Spotify and Songl.
There’s a little bit of Opel’s Adam in the VF Commodore. The self-parking system standard on all models was based on the version used in the oddly named Opel small car. Engineers had to tune the software and other parameters to make it work reliably and effectively in a larger car.
Like mums and dads across the country, Holden has its fingers crossed for the superior Isofix baby seat latching system to be approved by regulators. The Commodore is one of a handful of cars to have three Isofix mounting points across the rear seats (the Peugeot 5008 and Ssangyong Korando being two others).
Holden conducted some 25,000 simulated crash tests on the VF. Advancements in computing power and software meant the latest simulations were more than twice as accurate as those used for the VE Commodore that arrived in 2006. Only 49 cars were crashed in the real world with 70 individual crashes in total.
Wagon versions of the VF get different treatment due to the lower volumes (despite wagons now making up about one in three Commodore sales). Even more expensive grades get only the base sound system and there is no manual gearbox available for the “Sportwagon”.
The only exterior visual change to the Caprice limousine is new wheels. It doesn’t even get the aluminium bonnet and bootlid of the regular Commodore models, something claimed to help reduce weight by about 43kg.
The man who helped design the cockpit instrument panel beam (basically the backbone of the dashboard running across the car) for the VF Commodore used to work for Airbus and is an expert in working with aluminium. The new panel is made from aluminium, saving about 3kg over the steel one used previously.
The co-efficient of drag of the VF Commodore has been reduced from 0.330 to 0.309. That means it’s slipperier through the air, helping lower fuel use .
A small rear lip spoiler was partly chosen to reduce wind drag and improve the aerodynamic efficiency of sportier SV6 and SS Commodore models. The larger wing used traditionally is still available as an option but was not deemed as “sophisticated” as the smaller one.
A diesel engine was reconsidered for the VF Commodore but the changes that would have been required to package it into the car would have proved prohibitively expensive. It didn’t help that an ideal engine (the right size, output and ready for a rear-drive layout) wasn’t available within the General Motors world.
Range Rover reportedly had to ask Holden's permission to use the Evoque name tag in Australia even though its baby off roader arrived before the new VF Commodore. Holden had registered the Evoke name in 2005 and had originally planned to use it as a limited edition pack on the VE Commodore.
Holden has tested the VF Commodore around the globe as part of its development program, including Death Valley in the USA, Arjeplog in Sweden, Kapuskasing in Canada, Idiado in Spain and its own Lang Lang proving grounds.
Holden established a specialised manufacturing facility at its Elisabeth plant to build more than 300 prototype Commodores for the VF program. It employed around 30 specialists for more than eight months just to hand build the cars.
The VF Commodore's voice recognition system has been specifically calibrated for an Australian accent. This is the first vehicle to have such a feature.
The Commodore's Internet radio services - Pandora and Stitcher - automatically delete the programmed advertisements. The system is also future proof to allow for downloadable apps developed by GM due in 2015, but the company admits "we won't be adding things like Angry Birds or games".
The Global A electrical architecture that underpins all of the VF's new safety and comfort features has almost double the number of computer modules compared to the VE Commodore. Yet, despite also having more wires in the harness, the entire system weighs 1.5kg less.
The remote start system which allows you to start the engine from upto 100m away to either cool or heat the interior has a timer that will shut it down after 10 minutes.
The curtain airbags are the only ones that are carried over from the VE; both front and side airbags have been improved. The adoption of a global seat frame - as first used in the Volt - has allowed for new side airbags that cover both the thorax and pelvic areas and have similar levels of protection to leading European sedans.
There are three new colours available in the VF range; Fantale orange - ironically named after the famous chocolate lolly but inspired by the goldfish - Regal Peacock and Prussian Steel.
Holden will spend as much on promoting and marketing the VF Commodore as it did when the VE launched in 2006. It would not put a figure on it, but confirmed it would be a multi-million dollar campaign that incorporated more digital advertising than ever before.
The adoption of electric power steering has reduced the idle speed of the Commodore's engines to just 500rpm.
The VF Commodore is the first car in the GM world to feature an aluminium boot lid.
To improve the aerodynamics and fuel economy of the Evoke, the lower section of the front grille has been blanked off at each end. With these in place, the car has a towing capacity of 1200kg but they need to be removed for the 1600kg tow pack due to the extra cooling required.
The V8 powered Commodores do not feature the additional aero panel under the engine to improve underbody aerodynamics because it needs to expel greater levels of hot air from the engine bay.
The Evoke is the first - and only - Commodore model to feature hollow driveshafts in the rear axle. At the other end of the scale, the V8 powered cars have asymmetrical driveshafts with the right side 1.4 times stiffer than the left for improved launch characteristics.
The range topping SS-V Redline has the biggest stabiliser bars fitted to a Holden, measuring 28mm at the rear and 26mm at the front. With the retuned FE3 suspension it has improved roll stiffness by 30 percent and lateral g-force has increased from 0.88g to 0.93g.
While all three mainstream suspension tunes - FE1 (Evoke, Calais and Caprice), FE2 (SV6, SS and SS-V) and FE3 (Redline) - have been retuned, rural customers can still opt for a Country Pack set-up that increases ride height by 35mm and has softer springs to cope with rough outback conditions.
The electric power steering system has contributed to a 0.2L/100km reduction in fuel consumption. But the system weighs 1.3kg more than the hydraulic set-up it replaces.
The SS-V Redline's front tyres are the same specification as that used on the Ferrari California sports convertible while the wider rear tyres are also used by Aston Martin. They are both developed by long-time supplier, Bridgestone.
Australia's leading performance car manufacturer, HSV, today announced Recommended Retail Pricing (RRP) for its new GEN-F range of vehicles.
"Continuing to deliver more value each time we launch a new range has been at the heart of HSV's success, and GEN-F is no different. The raft of performance and technology enhancements has taken our vehicles to a whole new level, and we are excited that customers will shortly have the opportunity to experience GEN-F for themselves", said HSV Managing Director, Phil Harding.
Most eagerly anticipated has been the RRP for the LSA-powered GTS, which has been confirmed at $92,990 for the manual model and $95,490 for the 6-speed automatic with Active Select.
"The GEN-F GTS will have no peer when it comes to value. Its price, power, performance and specification levels are unrivalled in the market place", said HSV's Managing Director, Phil Harding.
The sedan range kicks off with the ClubSport starting from $60,990 for the manual model. This is a $4,000 decrease over its E3 predecessor.
The ClubSport R8, with additional features including a power upgrade to 325kW, leather trim, machined faced alloy wheels, BOSE audio, Bi-Modal mufflers, HSV's Enhanced Driver Interface, and a host of new driver technologies, will retail from $71,290, a $210 decrease on the outgoing E3 model.
Pricing for the ClubSport R8 Tourer will start from $72,290 which is also a $210 decrease on the outgoing E3 model.
"We're really pleased with the way our ClubSport range has shaped up. Our entry level ClubSport is very competitively priced. In fact, the last time we offered a ClubSport for less than $60,990 was way back in 2003 at specification levels not even comparable to today's model", said HSV Sales & Marketing Director, Tim Jackson.
"The ClubSport R8 offers massive additional value for our customers and is a great step forward over the outgoing model", added Jackson.
Pricing for the Maloo remains unchanged at $58,990 for the manual model with the Maloo R8 manual priced at $68,290.
The Maloo R8 follows a similar feature walk to that of the ClubSport R8 but also features HSV's signature Hard Tonneau with Performance Sail Plane.
Senator Signature buyers will welcome a $3,000 price reduction to $83,990, with the GEN-F model featuring the all-new 340kW / 570Nm LS3 specification and a deep list of luxury and technological appointments not previously available with the E3 model. The 6-speed automatic with Active Select will continue to be offered as a no cost option on Senator Signature.
Pricing for the Grange, the long-wheel-base flagship of the range, will be $85,990, which represents a $3,000 decrease on the E3 Grange. Like the Senator Signature, it also picks up the new 340kW/ 570Nm LS3 specification and the all-new luxurious interior. The Grange is available with automatic transmission only.
With the introduction of the GEN-F range comes the availability of three exciting new options.
An "SV Enhanced" option will be available exclusively on the three "R8" models. Featuring a power and torque upgrade to 340kW/570Nm, a 20" SV Performance forged alloy wheel in Satin Graphite, unique "pitch black" accents on the fender vents and mirror scalps and, in the case of the ClubSport R8, a lo-line spoiler finished in Satin Graphite, the "R8 SV Enhanced" option will be available for just $4,995.
HSV Performance Seats in "Red Hot" leather trim will be available on GTS, Senator Signature and the three "R8" models, for $695.
A 20" SV Performance forged wheel finished in Satin Graphite will be available across the entire range for $1,495 (no charge on GTS, Senator Signature and Grange).
The GEN-F prices have taken into account the change in Luxury Car Tax due on July 1.
Production of the new GEN-F range has just commenced with vehicles due to arrive in HSV showrooms mid-June. Production of GTS will commence late August.
Holden’s highly-anticipated VF Commodore and WN Caprice range has been awarded a maximum five star ANCAP safety rating just weeks before it officially arrives in Australian showrooms.
The five star rating applies to every new Commodore sedan, Sportwagon and Ute and long wheel base Caprice variant.
From the entry level Evoke sedan to the flagship Caprice V, every VF and WN variant is comprehensively equipped with advanced safety technology features including Auto Park Assist, rear view camera and front and rear parking sensors.
Holden also makes available Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Alert, Reverse Traffic Alert and Head-Up Display across a range of models.
This is in addition to the long list of standard safety features on Commodore and Caprice including front driver and passenger airbags, side curtain and new pelvis/thorax side impact airbags, Electronic Stability Control with ABS, EBD, EBA and TCS, rear seat belt reminder that alerts the driver if the rear seats are unbuckled in transit, and flashing emergency stop lights.
Furthermore, all Commodore sedan, Sportwagon and Caprice models are equipped with three ISOFIX child seat anchorage points across the back row.
Holden makes this globally proven child seat safety technology available to Australian families by offering the latest ISOFIX anchorage system ahead of the technology's official approval by Standards Australia. ISOFIX is an international system for attaching child restraints to vehicles that assists in correct seat fitment.
Holden's Manager for Vehicle Structure & Safety Integration, Steve Curtis said achieving ANCAP's five star safety rating reinforces Holden’s strong commitment to making safety accessible to all Australians.
"We worked extremely hard to advance every key safety metric across the new Commodore and Caprice range," he said.
"Commodore is a popular family car, but what most large cars haven’t been able to offer before is three ISOFIX fastenings across the back seat.
"Research suggests around 70 per cent of conventional Australian child safety seats are fitted incorrectly, which means ISOFIX technology will become an important feature for families with young children."
First day of regular production for new VF Commodore at Elizabeth
Advanced technology, lightweight materials and enhanced production processes mark the most advanced car ever created in Australia
Luxurious 'Prussian Steel' Calais V first down the line
The most advanced car ever created in Australia will soon be arriving at Holden dealers across the country with the first series production VF Commodores rolling down the line at Holden Vehicle Operations (HVO) today.
Just days after the final VE Commodore was driven off the production line, the first VF Commodores are now being built for customers at Holden's world-class vehicle assembly facility in Elizabeth, South Australia.
The first production car down the line was the new luxury flagship of the world-class Commodore range, a Calais V finished in 'Prussian Steel' Prestige Paint. Representing the pinnacle of Australian-made motoring, the Calais V boasts an array of advanced technologies including Holden MyLink with built-in apps, Auto Park Assist, Forward Collision Alert, Colour Head-up Display, Lane Departure Warning, Rear View Camera, Blind Spot Alert and Reverse Traffic Alert.
"The VF isn't just the most advanced car to ever roll down the line at our Elizabeth factory, it's the most advanced car ever created in this country," said Holden’s Director - Business and Launch Strategy, Nick Baloglou.
"In terms of both technology and the manufacturing process, VF is a huge leap forward for Holden. It's the best quality car we've ever built; it's bursting with technology and we've reduced our cost to build. Everything we have done is focused on giving the customer the best possible car at the best possible price," said Mr Baloglou.
The VF manufacturing process uses an aluminium bonnet and boot lid for the first time on an Australian car, and highlights the skills and capabilities of Australian manufacturing. Key supplier to Holden, Hirotec, stamps these aluminium panels in Adelaide before delivering them to Holden. Combined, these two aluminium components save 10.4kg compared to conventional steel pressings.
The new panels are equally as strong as their steel equivalents but are 30 per cent lighter - offering significant weight and fuel economy savings.
More lightweight aluminium is incorporated in the form of the Instrument Panel (IP) central beam, supplied by Diver Industries in Melbourne.
The fitting of a lightweight aluminium instrument panel beam - stiffer than and as strong as the steel support it replaces - also brings refinement benefits, with reductions in noise and vibration.
A $39.8 million grant from the Australian Government's Green Car Innovation Fund (GCIF) has facilitated the addition of a number of advanced fuel economy enablers for the VF, including the use of aluminium componentry, electric power steering and aerodynamic improvements.
Another example of VF Commodore's cutting-edge technology, and another fuel economy enabler, is the introduction of GM's new 'Global A' electrical architecture - an upgrade made possible through the GCIF grant.
"I'm really proud of what we have achieved with the VF here in our Elizabeth plant," said Holden Executive Director - Manufacturing, Richard Phillips.
"Our facility and workforce is world-class. We manage an incredible amount of complexity at HVO and incorporating the VF's sophisticated body structure into an already diverse plant has been a challenge that the team has executed with skill and ingenuity.
"We have implemented a huge number of process and system improvements and the results speak for themselves. The VF is quite simply the best quality car Holden has ever built."
"Holden has already received global recognition for innovation and productivity in our Elizabeth plant. Now not only do we build the only small car in Australia, the Cruze, but with the cutting-edge new VF we have taken another crucial step in ensuring Holden remains a globally competitive manufacturing base,” said Mr Phillips.
HVO is one of the most flexible plants, not just within GM but anywhere in the world, building two key vehicle architectures: the Cruze small car and the Commodore large car.
From those two core architectures, Holden will build six different body styles and nine variants for a total of 45 different models. This level of complexity is a rarity anywhere in the automotive world, and highlights the advanced capabilities of Holden manufacturing.
Manufacturing has been a central part of Holden’s DNA since the first 48-215 'FX' rolled off the Fishermans Bend production line in Victoria in 1948. Since that historic day, Holden manufacturing has maintained a proud tradition of building outstanding cars for Australia and the world. Soon, Holden will again be exporting cars built at HVO to the United States when the VF goes on sale in the US later this year as Chevrolet’s flagship SS Sports Sedan.
"There's an enormous amount of pride running through the whole organisation around VF. Pride in the product, pride in our abilities and pride in manufacturing. The VF is stunning proof that Australia can make world-class cars, even against a challenging economic backdrop," finished Mr Phillips.
The new VF Commodore arrives in showrooms in June 2013, recommended retail prices start at $34,990 RRP for the automatic Evoke sedan. The Calais V V8 sedan which headlined production in Elizabeth today has a recommended retail price of $52,990, plus $550 for the Prussian Steel prestige paint.
VF Commodore makes cutting-edge technology an every-day luxury with Auto Park Assist, MyLink with Siri Eyes Free for compatible mobiles and Rear View Camera as standard on every model.
Combining sophisticated styling, high-class luxury interiors and Commodore’s trademark driving dynamics, the VF is the best Commodore ever.
HOLDEN VF CALAIS V V8 SPECIFICATIONS
6.0L 90-degree OHV V8 with Active Fuel Management (AFM) technology
6-speed automatic transmission
260kW @ 5600rpm
517Nm @ 4400rpm
Anti-Lock Braking System, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD ), Electronic Brake Assist (EBA), Traction Control System (TCS)
8-way power driver seat
19” alloy wheels (4)
Auto Park Assist
Lane Departure Warning
Forward Collision Alert
Blind Spot Alert
Reverse Traffic Alert
Rear View Camera
Colour Head-Up Display
9-speaker Bose premium audio (sedan only)
Satellite navigation with full colour mapping with live traffic updates, traffic management control and points of interest
Rain sensing wipers
Automatic headlamp mode
Heated front seats
Sunroof (sedan only)
DVD (playable stationary)
Broadcast quality footage of general VF Commodore production can be downloaded here:
Holden Commodore VF B Roll 20 May 2013.wmv
Holden Commodore VF B Roll 20 May 2013.mp4