If you wanted a large luxury wagon for a number of years then your only choices were expensive European cars.
With the release of the VF Calais V Sportwagon last year Australians now have another much cheaper choice.
Now I know the Calais V wagon existed in the previous model VE, bur the release of VF and the massive improvements in materials and the interior really means now that the Calais V can really take it to the Euros.
The Calais V under cuts its European rivals by 10’s of thousands of dollars, but as you will see that doesn’t mean Holden has skimped on the equipment and feature levels of the Calais V Sportwagon.
On the outside the front end has more sculpture classier look the addition of DRL’s adds to the is look, with bigger fender vents and newly designed 19inch Alloy wheels means the VF Calais stands out from the previous model.
From the back though it’s different story and really the only disappointing thing I can as the rear of the sportwagon remains unchanged from the previous VE model.
The car is finished in dark green metallic paint called Regal Peacock which I think really looks good specially on the Calais V with added chrome work on the frontend.
Slip behind the wheel and it’s a different story indeed the Calais V just oozes luxury, the leather trimmed flat bottomed steering wheel which is comfortable to hold and has the buttons for the audio, cruise control, voice recognition and the crash avoidance which allows you to set the distance or turn it off.
The instrument panel features blue back lighting and is easy to see at all times, an LCD screen which sits in between gauges is multi coloured and offers a great array of information available via the stalk.
The dash has great looking light suede and strip going across which is continued across the door trims, which adds to the classy feel of the interior.
The Calais V is also equip with the new HUD or head up display which projects the speedo and few other functions onto the windscreen in front of the driver so it means you don’t have to look down at the speedo.
The centre stack features the superb Holden Mylink system now if you had read some of my previous reviews VF Commodore reviews then you would know how much of a fan I am of this system.
The Mylink system offers you full connectivity with your smart phone which means you can do just about anything, from live Bluetooth streaming of music from your device, live stream of music from the internet via the built in Pandora and stitcher apps. The voice recognition system which can be controlled via buttons on the leather bound steering wheel which means you don’t have to take your hands off the wheel to answer calls. The Mylink system will even read your text messages to you while driving so you can lock your phone away in the glovebox while driving and you never need to touch it. Which you should do anyway while your driving.
The 8inch colour touch screen is easy to see and very easy to use. You can also adjust various set ups for your vehicle via the screen which allows you to personalise some features.
The HIVA controls for the dual zone climate control aircon are below the Mylink system and they are just simply classy looking.
The console features the buttons for the Auto Park Assist, Front and Rear Park Assist and the Electric Parking Brake. At the front is as handy storage tray and 12 volt socket which makes it a perfect place to store your phone.
The dark leather seats which have a contrasting light stripe down the middle of them are extremely comfortable and offer a great amount of support, for the winter they are also heated, the seats have 8 way power adjustment as well as electric lumbar adjustment, the seat also has a memory function so your favourite driving position is only 1 push of button once you’ve stored it.
The back side is spacious offers plenty of comfort and great amount of legroom, when you have 2 passengers in the back the middle folds down to reveal a handy armrest and in the middle of the base of the are seat are 2 retractable cup holders.
Being a wagon as you would expect the Calais V has more room than a lot of SUV’s on the market 895 litres which increases to 2000 litres with the rear seats folded down.
Under the bonnet the Calais V Sportwagon is powered by Holden’s 6.0L V8 engine developing 260kw of power and 517Nm of torque.
No surprises with this engine it has a great amount of power, but is very tractable to drive in everyday traffic and will cruise effortlessly and very economically on the freeway.
The 6 speed auto worked well and seemed to be well suited to the engine I never did have a problem with it hunting for gears. It does have a sport shift function if you want to change gears yourself, but to be honest I didn’t use it all during the week as the car was such comfortable cruiser you just jump put it drive and enjoy the comfort.
The VF Calais V rides on the Holden’s comfort tuned suspension unlike previous models where the suspension was more performance based, and I that’s why this car was such a dream to drive.
The suspension just soaked up the bumps, never once feeling unsettled under conditions I experienced during the week. Everybody that rode in it during commented on how good the ride was, on the freeway Calais V was extremely smooth indeed this car would make an awesome long distance cruiser.
The electric power steering (EPS) also receives a more comfort orientated setting, and is exceptionally well weighted and offers a great amount of feedback but is light enough to make parking easy as.
The Calais V is loaded to the gunwales with technology and safety features thanks to a move to the new Global-A Serial Data Electrical Architecture, Electric Park Brake, Hill Start Assist, Reverse camera with front and rear parking sensors, Auto Park Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Side Blind Zone Alert, Forward Collision Alert, Reverse Traffic Alert and colour Head-up Display, ISOFIX child restraint systems, Rear seat belt alert that warns the driver when rear seatbelts are unbuckled.
There was not a lot I found wrong with the Calais V the week I had it and I think Holden should be congratulated for the work they have done to the VF they certainly have taken the VF Calais V to another level compared to previous models. The amount of features, technology and luxury is something you would be use to finding on a much more expensive car.
Like i said at the beginning the Calais V Sportwagon gives people looking for a luxury wagon a locally made option without the massive price you would have to pay to get a comparable Euro made model.
It alos gives people looking at an SUV just to get some extra room another alternative, the Calais V sportwagon offers more room and luxury then a lot of SUV’s on the market, comes packed full technology and safety features and carries you in luxury with some added style.
The 6.0L V8 engine has heaps of power and makes a very nice highway cruiser, the Calais V also comes with the option of Holden 3.6L V6 for those of you wanting the luxury without the V8 fuel bill.
For more information on the Calais V or the rest of Holden’s VF Commodore range visit their web site http://www.holden.com.au