The VF Commodore was released to a lot of fanfare this year given that the VF is most technically advanced large car every made in this country it is very much well deserved. We here at 3 on The Tree have been waiting patiently for our turn to review the VF and finally that day is here.
Picking up the keys to the VF Evoke LPG I was a little excited, over the last few months I have read and watched every video, test drive, review and all the info I could find on the VF Commodore.
Holden have managed to drop 43kg of weight compared to the VE omega with this use of Aluminium bonnet and boot lids (another first for an Australian made car), aluminium and cast alloy suspension parts and high strength steel. The weight saving not only means better fuel economy than the previous model but better performance and handling as well.
The Evoke is the entry level model in the VF range essentially replacing the Omega model in the previous model although when you look at the equipment levels it has, it kinda starts to look more up market, to me Holden have blurred the lines a little bit on what an entry level model should be. In fact when you take a look what the equipment list of the Evoke it is better equip then the Berlina in the previous model.
The Evoke comes with a range of new technology and safety features some never seen before on an Australian built others you might see on an expensive import costing 2, 3, 4 or more times the price of the Evoke, Holden have really excelled themselves this time.
On the outside the VF the front and rear ends have been redesigned to give it a more aerodynamic and up market look, there are little hints of chrome around the grill and lower on the front bar where other models in the range feature DRL’s, the chrome fender vents now extend down the fenders, the rear is more tapered.
Open the door and step inside and you think you have stepped into a more expensive car instead of the entry level model, the dash has been redesigned while I didn’t mind the VE dash is was a touch plain. The VF dash on the other hand is a massive step forward indeed, the steering wheel is slightly smaller diameter and contains the buttons for the audio system, voice recognition, Bluetooth, cruise control meaning you don’t have to take your hands off the wheel while driving.
Now during the week I only had a couple of peeves with the inside of the Evoke, one was the material the steering wheel is made from, it’s rubbery and I just can’t stand it the Evoke is the only model in the VF line up that doesn’t review a leather bound steering wheel and if I bought one I would be trying to see if I could option it with a leather bound wheel.
Instrument panel features newly designed gauges and 3inch info screen which is used to display various functions including the trip metre and fuel economy plus many, many more. One of the new features of the newly designed dash is the strip of material running across the dash which gives it a more up market look.
The centre of the dash is the home for the 8inch colour touch screen for the Mylink system now regular readers of my reviews will know how much I really like this system and its features.
The Mylink system features full Bluetooth connectivity including live streaming of music from your device, it also features voice recognition technology, which can be used by driver via the steering wheel controls the driver simply pushes the button on the steering wheel and can give the car commands such as call Marty and it will access your contacts list on your phone find the person and dial their number I tried a few times to call my wife Marty and worked great every time, you can also say a number and it will dial the number. You can also use the Mylink touch screen to make and receive calls as well, the driver can also answer calls via the steering wheel button. One thing i really love is that Mylink will actually let you know when you have received a text message and give you the chance to listen to it or ignore it, it also gives you several pre-set replies you can give or you can actually set up your own replies before you begin your journey via the touch screen that works awesome as well.
You can also customise your Mylink home screen which allows you to put your favourite features within easy access, Mylink also features embedded Apps Pandora® and Stitcher SmartRadio™, while I haven’t used stitcher before I am constantly using Pandora and absolutely love this app which allows me to stream music via my phone.
I have been using Pandora for ages, you just set up your own radio station and Pandora plays music based on your music preferences if it plays a song you like you give it the thumbs up and that is added to your play list, although give it the thumbs down and you will never hear that song again.
Underneath the Mylink system is the controls for the climate control air conditioning is simply one of the nicest set out and easy to use air conditioning system I’ve used.
The console has been redesigned and the first thing you will notice is the hand brake that caused so Much conjecture in the VE is gone replaced by an electric parking brake operated by a button on the console, there are also buttons for the parking assist and the auto park assist this brings me onto peeve no 3. There is a handy storage tray at the front of the console along a 12volt socket so it makes the perfect place to store your phone and charge it.
It also features 2 cup holders which hold the shake cups maccas without an issue.
As you would expect the Evoke has plenty of room for 5 people, there is plenty of leg room in the front.
Holden have moved to a new GM seat frame on the VF and the front seats which offer part electric and part manual adjustment and are very comfortable, but this brings me onto peeve number 3 which is only a small the reclining adjustment wheel of all previous generation Commodores is gone replaced by a lever and while the level offer quicker adjustment it just doesn’t offer the fine tuning you could get with wheel on the older models
The back seat is comfortable and offers plenty of room for 3 people with a great amount of legroom, the middle of seat folds down to reveal an arm rest when for there are only 2 back seat passengers and there are 2 car holders that retract into the middle of the seat base.
The boot has a good amount of storage and offers easy access, this particular car is optioned with the tyre repair kit rather than a full size spare tyre so you don’t lose any storage space at all from having a tyre in there as the LPG tank is mounted where the spare tyre goes in other models.
On the road and the VF is a massive improvement over the previous VE model not only in terms of ride but in terms of NVH as well.
Holden have introduced a whole bunch of changes which suppress NVH including new acoustic wheel housings which reduce wet and dirt road noise, a new acoustic blanket material which is more effective at reducing ambient noise between compartments, the shifter on auto models is now also better isolated to reduce transmitted NVH from the motor. They have also tuned the interior to suppress NVH on cruise or normal driving.
Driving along you can really tell indeed the Evoke is very quiet indeed, even over course patches which does transmit some noise but you hardly notice it at all. Compared to the previous VE model and other cars I’ve driven this year he Evoke is extremely quiet.
The ride is very compliant and comfortable, the suspension seems to soak up the bumps really well, there is some slight body roll if you push it through a corner but the grip level are wonderful and you hardly notice it.
The Electric Power Steering (EPS) is superbly weighed and offers great feel, which gives the Evoke very direct steering, it’s light to make parking easy and the increased weigh you get at higher speeds gives you great feedback at all times.
Under the bonnet the Evoke LPG is powered by Holden’s 3.6L V6 rated at 180kw and 320nm of torque which means the Evoke has some go when you need the engine loves to rev as well.
It’s very tractable and will easily keep up with traffic, on the freeway it lopes along and has plenty in reserve for over taking.
One thing lots of people commented on was how quiet it is at idle at times you have to look down at the rev tacho to actually double check the engine is running.
The Evoke’s real trick though is fuel economy, while being LPG powered it does use more than a normal petrol powered car but the thing is LPG is half the price of petrol. During the week it was the worst week ever for me to trying to squeeze as much economy out of a car as I could my average speed was I very a frustrating 16.1 km/h which resulted in my economy blowing out to 20L/100km but when you look at it if LPG is half the price of unleaded then really it equates to 10l/100km. Once I got out of the traffic and the fuel economy started to really go down indeed. My economy record with an LPG Commodore was 10.L/100km in the LPG VE SV6 I reviewed at the beginning of the year not only did the VF Evoke break that record but it absolutely smashed it recording a figure of 8.6L/100km so that proves this car would make a very good economical long distance cruiser with the space and room for 5 people and their luggage.
Safety wise the VF range is loaded, Holden have moved to global GM wiring loom for the VF which has enabled Holden to introduce whole bunch of new technology and safety some are firsts for Holden some are firsts for an Australian made car.
Including 6 airbags, ECS, ABS & TCS, Auto Park Assist, Rear view camera, Front and Rear Park Assist, Automatic release electric park brake, Hill Hold Control and Hill Start Assist, Trailer Sway Control, ISOFIX child seat anchorage system, Projector headlamps (halogen), Remote vehicle start (automatic transmission only), Reverse Traffic Alert, Rear seat belt alert that warns the driver when rear seatbelts are unbuckled in transit and Emergency brake flashers that will cause the brake lights to flash during emergency braking event.
The VF Commodore had a lot to live up to when it came to market this year and I think after a week in the VF Evoke LPG is has not only lived up to that but actually taken further.
Several times during the week I had to remind myself that this is an entry level model, to me Holden have really moved the bar on what an entry level model is in terms of equipment, technology and safety levels.
I did have a couple of things that I wasn’t impressed with not massive things and really things that might not worry other people at all.
The VF Evoke LPG is perfect for family’s after a safe large car which is loaded with technology and safety, it rides and handles well is superbly quiet on the road., this car gives you the space, room and safety of a large sedan but being LPG powered has the running costs that will put lots of smaller 4 cylinder cars to shame.
Really if you’re in the market for a new family car you should defiantly be taking a close look at the VF Evoke LPG, for more info on the Evoke or other models in Holden’s VF Commodore range visit their website www.holden.com.au