Driven! Holden's new VF Commodore

Does it matter how good the new VF Commodore is to drive?

That's the question Holden staff are forced to confront in their contemplative moments, because the latest and probably last big rear-drive Aussie sedan could be the greatest, and best value, car ever made, but if the local market has decided that it prefers SUVs, hatches and even mid-sized sedans, it just won't matter.

Remember the Mitsubishi 380? Apparently it was a pretty good car, but all it did was hasten the demise of local manufacturing.

Another car that's pretty damn good is the outgoing VE Commodore, indeed Wheels recently voted it the greatest Australian car of all time, yet buyers have been not buying it in droves.

They may, of course, have been waiting for the VF and the good news is that they will have been wise to do so.

I've been driving our long-term VE for two months now - and I love it - but it takes less than 10 minutes in the new car to recognise that it is a significant step forward.

The wheel you hold feels classier, more expensive and is covered in buttons for functions the old car never had, like a voice recognition system that actually works, and can read incoming text messages to you.

On up spec models you're also faced with a head-up display that can show you everything from speed limits to tacho, satnav directions and even a cornering-G meter.

The dash and centre screen look almost Euro classy and there are even soft touch fabrics and furry stuff on some models.

To your left is an electronic park brake and a button that operates the clever self-parking system.

Even the base Evoke gets it, in an effort to tackle a point of market Commodore resistance - big cars are too hard to park.

The overall sense is that this is a far more expensive feeling car than VE, which is impressive when you consider it's actually up to $10k cheaper.

Throw in the extra gear on the new car and the value proposition can see you being $15k better off.

What really matters, though, is that it's a noticeably better car to drive.

The sleepiness in the steering at the straight ahead is gone and the new electronic power steering, which shaves 0.2 of a litre per 100km off fuel economy, also provides better weighted feedback and sharper turn in.

The new Commodore feels smaller, because it's lighter and sharper in its handling, while noise suppression and handling are also improved.

This is a truly world class car, not something I've personally been tempted to write about Commodores before so enthusiastically.

It feels like one hell of a lot of car for the money, and in the case of the SS models, a hell of a lot of fun for that money too.

Whether this will be enough to achieve the kinds of sales Holden needs to keep the dream alive is yet to be seen, but we're pretty sure anyone who test drives a VF against similarly priced competition will be sold.

It's VF good indeed. 

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