Holden VF Commodore Evoke LPG First Drive Review
Sometimes the car you get in feels just right. Tony Bosworth says for him – for this week, at least – that’s the Holden Commodore Evoke LPG.
I’ve been driving a lot of Holdens over the past few months, including Captiva, Trax, Cruze, and a whole bagful of Commodores (reviews all up soon), and I think I’ve found my favourite in the shape of the Holden VF Commodore Evoke LPG.
Why is that, you may ask, after all this is the base model (albeit with the $2500 optional factory-fitted LPG tank) complete with cloth seats, no rear seat armrest, no navigation, no start button (it’s a normal key – though I don’t mind that one bit to be honest) and with the standard Commodore 3.6-litre V6.
Well, it’s an honest car. Simple as that and, to be fair, you still do get some decent equipment. Coupled with the front and rear parking sensors, you get park assist which allows the car do some of the work getting into tight parking spots; there’s also a rear view camera, 16-inch alloy wheels, electrically adjustable driver’s seat (the passenger gets to do it manually), six airbags, dual zone climate control and an eight-inch touchscreen which accesses Holden’s MyLink system controlling the sound system, as well as doubling as the standard reverse camera screen.
The 3.6-litre V6 feeds through a standard six-speed Commodore automatic and produces 180kW of power and 320Nm of torque in this LPG form and you get that torque at a low 2000rpm; the standard petrol version has slightly better power at 185kW but the torque is lower at 290Nm.
The week before I drove the LPG I was at the wheel of a petrol Evoke Sportwagon and that admittedly slightly heavier Commodore just didn’t have the poke of the LPG, and felt a lot softer too, rolling in corners.
The LPG Evoke is quicker, though like other V6-engined Commodores it’s hesitant off the mark. But, get into the mid-range and it picks up its skirts and punches on. Thanks to the LPG’s extra torque, it snarls away from traffic lights if you push the loud pedal to the floor, but still there’s that initial fluffiness.
Steering is mostly well weighted – there is some wander in the straight ahead position so you will be making small adjustments on freeways in particular – but the car turns in quickly and the wheel’s a good, handy size, if a little scratchy to hold in its hard plastic form here.
I have to say I’m more of a fan of cloth than leather seats (I don’t like burning my legs on a hot summer’s day when I sit on the leather of a long-parked car – but maybe that’s just me), so the Evoke’s cloth trim suits.
I have to report too that a dropped ice cream – the kids, not me, I hasten to add – was easily wiped from the cloth, so it’s pretty practical too, and I find the biggish seats comfy on both short and long runs. I’m not so happy about the lack of an armrest in the back, and there’s nowhere in the back aside from the door bins to try and hold drinks. For a family car these are major omissions.
The boot easily swallows a family’s gear or shopping and you can push long loads through a centre hatch, though there is no seat fold facility which limits the practicality. Having said that, it is a big and easily accessible boot and there’s a remote button on the key fob which opens it up fully.
Now, LPG currently costs around 80cents a litre, against about $1.50 a litre for petrol, so you’re making a saving there straight away. But you have to factor in the extra cost of the LPG Evoke against the petrol model.
The best consumption I achieved during just under 500km of mixed driving, was 10.9L/100km with an overall average of 11.1L/100km. To put that in a bit of perspective, 11.1 is the same thirst I get from my 2008 Mitsubishi 380 with 3.8-litre V6.
Now, you’d have thought the intervening period since the 380 went out of production would have seen remarkable fuel economy gains… Holden has tried – the bonnet and boot are light-weight aluminium, for example – but the fact is the Commodore is not going to win any fuel saving contests. Still, I’d rather be paying 80cents for a litre of fuel than $1.50. And I love this car’s feel, its decent performance, and its certainly-good-enough level of equipment.
PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS
If the Evoke LPG were a family member – and you know what, it deserves to be the family car – you’d say it has very good manners, likes a drink but doesn’t overdo it, and it looks pretty well turned out too, never glitzy, and never offensive. All up it’s an impressive achiever.