Now, I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to Holden’s power saloons, it’s often inevitable to slip out the words’Compared to the Germans’. However now more than ever the commodore light might just shine brightly enough to illuminate the shadow cast by the likes of BMW.
The first thing you notice, with the keys deep in your pockets, is the ease of entry via the small chrome buttons conveniently placed on each door handle. The doors pop, the lights illuminate and you’re greeted with lashings of leather and suede. And it’s in the details where we begin to notice a serious step up in the quality stakes. The door cards feel nice and firm. Faux carbon effect leather and firm plastics coats them and insulate you from the world outside.
The dash cluster is shrouded in more leather, with a soft touch top. The switches feel nice and solid, and the plastics feel refreshingly un-GM in their solidity. Punch the engine start button, keys still in your pocket and you’ll see the tacho and speedo flip right to left, the heads up screen give you any relevant warnings, and the engine roar to life in a way reminiscent of Simba in the Lion King.
Which is a perfect segway to my favourite part of the package. The little v6 may not have all of the audacity and in your face obnoxiousness of it’s big brother, but the 3.6 litre, 180kw motor is a peach in isolation. FullChat it emits a nice tone that the most hard nosed of petrol heads will at least appreciate – and on kick down it has enough grunt to push you back in your seat and make progress. The gearbox is by no means DSG quick, but is satisfyingly responsive. In sports mode it holds you in gear for longer, kicks down more readily and offers the option of manual control. Finding ourselves in the hills for some twists, once you familiarise yourself with it’s nature it’s easy to make quick progress, flicking up and through the gears sequentially.
The steering feels wonderfully balanced and quickly disguises the size of the VF, and body roll while present isn’t excessive all things being fair. No the SV6 isn’t a competitor for the likes of an M3, but then it’s not setting out to be. Over 300kms of spirited driving, we’ve ravaged through half a tank of fuel which surpasses expectations. Grip is both sufficient whilst allowing for a bit of driver engagement (read: wheeee!). The driver aids of course kick in before things get too carried away, but without being too invasive.
Seating position is both comfortable and confidence inspiring. An hour commute saw no need to shift around, and it offers a nice, neutral seating position, while also gripping you in the right places. They’re not the most sporting of seats out there, but are testament to the SV6’s jack of all trades approach.
The model tested didn’t feature satnav, but it did feature the large-screened MyLink system. The control hub of the car letting you easily access everything from Graphics EQ through to what doors open with the remote and how long lights stay on. It’s clear and easily accessible, one bugbear is the inconsistent bluetooth performance – the system sent my Spotify into previously unseen loops, crashes etc. The system wouldn’t link up automatically on start up with ease which often meant manually selecting it through the phone.
And it’s practical too, a trip to Bunnings saw us take back a full load to the office – inclusive of a kitchen worktop, fencing panel, a few shelving units, all fed through the rear drop down seats and ski hatch. As with any sedan though; the opening is limited rather annoyingly by the parcel shelf which makes things a little narrower than they possibly need to be – I can only assume due to safety requirements. The A-pillar is supposedly a bug bear going by many; but I didn’t find it to be too restrictive on our test.
So the mid-range commie has an aura of ‘premium economy’ to it. You know there are others out there splashing more cash and getting places a little quicker – but you still feel sufficiently pampered. And that’s no criticism, because the SV6 makes a compelling case for itself in the balance between cost and performance.
At $39,000 new and as tested, the SV6 is at a good price point for perspective buyers and will make a great used purchase. It’s simply a lot of kit for the money and we were pleasantly surprised.