First thing a lot people think of when you mention LPG is taxi’s and BBQ’s, but more and more people are turning to LPG powered vehicles as an alternative to petrol after they discover the benefits that LPG can offer not just for the environment but for the bank balance as well.
Having never driven a LPG car before I was very interested to see how the LPG SV6 was going to go this week performing the regular family assignments and just how well it stacked up against a regular petrol SV6 Commodore that I recently reviewed.
On the outside the LPG SV6 looks like any other SV6, same muscular shape and body kit, it’s only when you get around the back of the car and you see the single LPG badge and notice it only has 1 exhaust pipe that you notice it’s different.
Under the bonnet is where the big difference is. Holden introduced its dedicated LPG range in early 2012.
Holden evaluated both liquid and vapour injected LPG systems and found the vapour injected system was the only system to meet their program goals, including low emissions.
The bonus also with a vapour injected system is it’s better for Australia’s climate as it provides more consistent starting in hot weather. I can tell you I never had an issue with it starting during the week even on the 40+degree days we’ve had in Sydney.
The 3.6L double overhead cam V6 has been optimised to run on LPG. Featuring hardened valves and valve seats for durability and specifically designed heads and manifold. Holden was also able to take advantage of the higher octane rating of LPG by raising the compression ratio to 12.2:1.
The 3.6L puts out a decent 180kw and 320nm slightly down on the petrol powered 3.6L V6 but it is barely noticeable most of the time in normal city driving.
Holden was able to lighten the 6 speed automatic and it has been geared perfectly to the engine. I found the shifts very nice indeed and at part throttle you didn’t even noticed them.
If you have driven the petrol version of the 3.6L you will notice the difference between the two.
The LPG version does get off the line smartly when asked too, but it doesn’t seem to have the same urge and sounds gruffer higher in the rev range.
I did notice that it didn’t want to climb hills as good as the petrol version did on our test loop.
Put it this way all the above points are mute if you haven’t driven the petrol model before.
All in all I found it a decent performer, indeed I didn’t have any problems at all with it and the engine is really smooth during normal driving and at cruising speed on the freeway was very quiet indeed.
It’s very quiet at idle and when standing behind the car when it was running there was bugger all sound coming from the exhaust. I had several people very surprised the car was running as they couldn’t really hear it at all.
Fuel economy was going to be my big thing when testing this car. Generally you use more LPG than the petrol version but where the advantage lays in LPG is the fact that it is more than half the price of unleaded.
Holden quotes 16.3l/100km for urban and 10.0 for extra urban. The week I drove this vehicle, I didn’t quite match Holden’s urban figure but I was damn close averaging 16.5l/100km, although I did spend time in bumper to bumper traffic going nowhere. I’m pretty sure I could beat the figures if I actually drove it for economy.
On the freeway it was pretty much spot on with Holden’s figures in fact I beat it by a fraction, my average was 9.9L/100km.
Taking into account the price difference between LPG and unleaded that gives the LPG SV6 comparable running costs to some small and medium brands.
On the inside the SV6 I tested was optioned up with leather seats which I found very comfortable and supportive, my kids especially loved the seats as it took my youngest daughter Samantha all of 30 minutes to fall asleep in the back after we picked it up. The seats were a mix of light and dark and really suited the inside colouring perfectly.
This car was fitted with reverse sensors and rear view camera which made it very easy to park although in some light conditions the picture on the screen seemed to be darker than normal and a little hard to see.
It might have been dirt or something on the lens as I didn’t have any issue with the same system in the SV6 Z I tested not long ago.
Interior space is plentiful and the rear seats were extremely comfortable and had heaps of leg room.
The boot however was another story, while there was still a decent amount of boot space a lot of it was taken up by the full size alloy spare wheel this car was optioned with.
Suspension wise this car rides really well indeed, but for some reason though both my wife and I thought it didn’t ride the bumps as well as the Z Series I tested. I was thinking that riding on 18 inch rubber it might be the other way around. While it never felt unsettled on roads you just seem to feel the bumps more.
Whether that was something I could put down to this particular car I’m not sure as it still wasn’t bad enough to make this car uncomfortable to drive.
In fact I found this car very entertaining to drive on my regular test route and I certainly had lots of fun while driving it due to the handling which was great.
The brakes worked very well but for some reason the pedal in this particular car felt like it was a little too firm for my liking at times. I had issues trying to get a decent feel to the pedal.
This car has really opened my eyes to how viable an LPG fueled large car can be for families, especially those on a budget. The LPG SV6 offers the room of a large car with the fuel economy comparable to cars much smaller. Anybody looking for a very comfortable car that is cheap to run should really put an LPG SV6 on their shortlist for their next car.
For more info on Holdens full range of LPG powered cars check out their website http://www.holden.com.au
Big thanks to my mate Julien Martin who helped me out by proof reading this me for.