$42,490 – $61,790
Good: Fantastic looks & great handling – a serious alternative to all those big 4×4’s that spend their lives in suburbia; If you can afford the fuel bills an SS-V is a great choice; Z-Series value for money
Not so Good: Lacks a middle rear passenger headrest; speaking of which, almost five metres long yet only seats five?
Design and Engineering
Good : Launched in July 2008 the VE Series Sportwagon is a stylish and sporty family-friendly machine with dare we say, Euro beating looks – in our eyes it’s cooler than the sedan (which is also a great design). The shorter-than-previous wheelbase contributes to this Sportwagon being a better ‘drivers’ car.
Now the hatch hinges open further up the roofline, so you can park it close to a wall and still open the tailgate.
Not so good : Small side mirrors contribute to the good looks, but would offer greater visibility if they were a bit larger. The much-improved design comes at the expense of cargo capacity (however, you couldn’t really say it’s limited).
The VE Series II arrived in September 2010, but you’ll struggle to notice the changes to the exterior (excluding the sports grades).
Interior and Styling
Good : Heaps of room up front with (almost) all controls right where they should be PLUS they’re large and clear. Steering adjusts for both tilt & reach. Plenty of storage options up front; comfortable rear seats that fold flat to open up a very usable wide and long cargo space; very roomy rear seat leg and headroom – even with the sloping rear roofline. The big change inside, from VE to VE Series II, is the 6.5-inch touch-screen Holden-iQ system (yes, it’s even standard on the entry level Omega) positioned in the re-designed (and better looking) centre console surround.
Not so good : Fat A-pillars obstructs cornering visibility whilst the high exterior doorline styling limits visibility for the kiddies in the rear. Lack of rear storage compartments, especially in the boot.
Good : Whilst not the smoothest engine the V6 still has enough oomph for urban and country driving.
The SS and SS-V have oodles of character and plenty of speed with that mighty 6.0-litre V8.
Not so good : Unfortunately, the extra weight of the wagon body style over the Commodore sedan takes a slight edge off the V6’s performance.
Ride and Handling
Good : The Sportwagon sure does the great design proud thanks to excellent handling & great steering feedback. An overall semi-comfortable ride (though better to be in the front than rear) and it stays flat through high speed cornering.
Not so good : The sporty ride & handling comes at the expense of the rear passengers, it’s a tad firmer back there – thank the stiffer suspension settings than on the equivalent Commodore sedan.
Buying and Owning
Good : Minimal price difference over a Commodore sedan; all models come standard with 6 airbags; smarter buy than the Commodore due to greater expected resale values.
Not so good: If you spend most of your time in busy traffic – think twice about the 6.0L V8 as it’s thirsty when standing still…