Holden Caprice V (WM Series II)

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.


7.8
CNET Rating

About The Author

CNET Editor

Derek loves nothing more than punching a remote location into a GPS, queuing up some music and heading out on a long drive, so it's a good thing he's in charge of CNET Australia's Car Tech channel.


Exterior

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.

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Click through for an in-depth look at the Series II Holden Caprice.
(Credit: Derek Fung/CNET Australia)

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.

Interior

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.

Features

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.

Entertainment and navigation

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.

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Click through for an in-depth look at the Series II Holden Caprice.
(Credit: Derek Fung/CNET Australia)

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.

In the Caprice, the large touchscreen LCD that's the focal point of the system is situated lower on the dashboard. While this makes it slightly easier to operate, it is also less easy to glance at when driving. Flanked by buttons for iQ's various functions and music sources, the interface is easy to use, although list items are on the small side, so tapping the right one on the go is a lottery. Complementing the touchscreen are steering controls that allow the driver to switch sources and tracks, as well as adjust the volume and access their phone.

The range-topping Caprice V gains a rear seat entertainment package, and the audio system is upgraded to a Bose 10-speaker layout. Like many Bose systems, audio quality doesn't quite rise to the standard that one would expect. It's better than the setups that we've tried on other Commodore models, but the difference isn't Earth-shattering.

To keep those riding in the rear entertained, there are two screens — one in each of the front headrests — hooked up to a slightly noisy DVD drive mounted in the ceiling. Parents who are worried that the 3000th viewing of Toy Story will bring up an urge to floor the gas and drive headlong into a tree needn't worry; the system comes with a pair of AA-powered infrared wireless headphones. Entertainment options, such as the virtual CD changer and any connected iPods or USB sticks, can be accessed via the rear seat system, but not fully controlled. To make up for this, there's an additional auxiliary jack under the passenger's headrest.

For more information, check out our review of the rest of the Holden-iQ entertainment and nav package.

On the road

Compared to the Commodore SS-V, the Caprice exhibits a little more lean and body roll, although this is gradual and well controlled. The steering also has a bit more power assistance, but it's still on the correct side of well weighted. Before you complain: yes, we are comparing oranges and mandarins here, but there's no doubt, especially for such a mammoth vehicle: the Caprice V handles with great aplomb. Should you be too eager in your driving, the car's stability and traction control systems will subtly bring you back into line — physics permitting, of course.

Given that so many are used to ferry passengers around, dynamic prowess would be useless without a comfortable ride. The Caprice's suspension soaks up most bumps and imperfections without any fuss, and it's also calibrated for dirt and gravel roads. Drive over some undulating roads at high speeds, and the car will feel rather floaty. In common with its Commodore sibling, the Caprice's dynamic weak point are its brakes, which are spongy and don't really inspire confidence in such a powerful vehicle, particularly when you're pushing hard.

The Caprice V features the same drivetrain that's available in the Commodore SS-V, namely a 6-litre V8 paired with a six-speed automatic transmission driving the rear wheels. The 260kW of power and 517Nm of torque at foot, it goes without saying, is plentiful. Only those wishing for a loud V8 roar will be disappointed, as the cabin is suitably hushed. As with the rest of Holden's V8 line-up, the Caprice V will automatically switch between four- and eight-cylinder operation, and is happy to drink unleaded that's up to 85 per cent ethanol ... if you can find it, that is.

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Click through for an in-depth look at the Series II Holden Caprice.
(Credit: Derek Fung/CNET Australia)

In fact, the Caprice will drink any type of unleaded that you feed it. And boy, it will drink, and then some. Our overall fuel consumption figure of 14.3L/100km isn't particularly heart stopping until you break the figures down. On the highway, the Caprice V will drink at a reasonable rate of 8.5L/100km. In the suburbs, this figure rises dramatically to 15.2L/100k, but if you're unlucky enough to operate the Caprice solely in the CBD and inner city, the car will consume 21.9L/100km. For those curious, but too lazy, to click through to our Commodore SS-V review, that car managed 10.1L/100km, 15.3L/100km and around 25L/100km, respectively.

Vision out of the car is hampered by wing mirrors that are too small, with the driver's side desperately needing a convex mirror to reduce the size of its blind spot. It's good that Holden has included front and rear parking sensors, as well as a reversing camera. Unfortunately, the latter is rather low-res, and resides in an unshielded position on the boot, so on rainy days it is almost completely obscured by rain drops.

Conclusion

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.



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