Holden Caprice

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Keywords: Holden Caprice
Description: The Series II refresh brings the Caprice's entertainment and nav package into the 21st century, adding to its virtues of space and athleticism at a reasonable price.

The Good Plenty of space for a relatively affordable price. Handles well. Rides even better. iQ package has plenty of features. Did we mention the space.

If you thought that Holden's refresh of the Commodore range was subtle, then the revamp of the Caprice truly rewrites the book on the subject. Only the most committed Holden fan would notice the new alloy wheels and badges, as well as the revised chrome strip along the boot. That said, the original shape didn't need much fussing with, and that's because unlike previous generations of stretched Falcons and Commodores, this Caprice isn't an awkward-looking beast.

The curved roofline has a very nice Audi feel to it, and the rear doors are large and specifically designed for this car -- this is important not just visually, but also for ingress and egress. Indeed, apart from the front doors, the Caprice shares no external body panels with the smaller Commodore. on which it's based. Up front, there are xenon headlights with washers, which flank a grille sporting a wreathed Holden lion. LED elements are used in both tail-lights and in the side indicators, and 18-inch alloy wheels are standard.

Measuring some 5.16-metres long, the Caprice is a gargantuan car, especially for one that's priced at a lunch short of AU$70k. If the boot's 535-litre volume is insufficient, luggage space can only be extended via a large ski port, as the rear seats don't fold down. Hiding underneath the boot floor is a full-size alloy spare wheel.

Like the outside, the Caprice is obviously a Commodore-derived vehicle, but there are just enough visual differences to set it apart. For instance, the dashboard is arranged differently, and features a strip of aluminium that runs across its entire width. Also, the instrument panel consists of a set of visually distinct dials and information screens that, thankfully, aren't lost in a sea of reflections like the Commodore's.

That said, some of the switches and plastic in the cabin don't quite befit a car that's used frequently as a limousine, and the Commodore's thumb-chopping handbrake remains in place. The Caprice V's front seats are supportive, but aren't anywhere near as grippy as those fitted to the sports-oriented Commodore models. Also, despite being clad in Nappa leather, the seats don't feel in any way special.

In the rear, there are acres of head, leg and shoulder space. Even with the front seats pushed all the way back, we suspect that an NBA team's starting line-up could comfortably travel cross-country in the Caprice. If the driver decides to hustle the car through some corners, passengers won't be thrown around like goods in a panel van, as the outboard seats are well-bolstered.

As part of the Series II revision, Holden has dumped the decades-old Statesman brand, unifying its long-wheelbase sedans under the Caprice name. The un-suffixed Caprice has a 210kW 3.6-litre V6 under the bonnet, and features six airbags and stability control. There's also front fog lamps, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, leather seats, automatic headlights, reversing camera, electric driver's seat with memory settings, electric passenger's seat, dual-zone climate control air conditioning and leather seats.

The Caprice V replaces the V6 with a V8, and adds the following equipment: bi-xenon headlights, puddle lights under the wing mirrors that also dip automatically on reverse, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a Bose 220W speaker package, rear seat entertainment system, extra electric adjustment on the passenger's seat, the aforementioned Nappa leather seats, tilt-and-slide sunroof and a tri-zone climate control air conditioning system.

Some features that are seemingly mandatory on other luxury vehicles, like seat heating and ventilation and headlights that swivel with steering input, are not available in either Caprice.

Both Caprice models feature a fully kitted Holden-iQ system that includes sat nav, a "virtual CD changer" that consists of 1GB of flash memory for storing up to 15 ripped CDs, auxiliary and USB ports and Bluetooth for hands-free and audio streaming. The USB port is compatible with both flash memory drives, and iPods and iPhones, although scrolling through a large music library on an iPod or iPhone requires the patience of a hundred Gandhis.

Like many factory-fit nav systems, Holden-iQ misses out on text-to-speech. It is, however, one of the few such systems to feature speed limit info; available for most roads, it appears as a small icon in the bottom left-hand corner of the 6.5-inch display and, rather more usefully, in the LCD screen in the instrument cluster. That screen can also display fuel economy stats, a digital speedo and next-turn instructions. Other features include live traffic information from Suna and lane guidance, although this is primarily limited to freeways.

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