It has its share of annoying quirks and faults, but iQ is admirable for its impressive feature set and unique inclusions.

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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.

Availability and features

The new Holden-iQ system is a standard fit throughout the updated Commodore and Caprice ranges, although the amount of goodies loaded on-board varies from model to model.

All versions are controlled via a 6.5-inch touchscreen, the physical buttons that flank it and a suite of buttons and dials on the steering wheel. Regardless of the car's spec-level, a single CD slot and USB and auxiliary ports are included. Bluetooth is also standard, allowing for hands-free phone calls as well as wireless streaming audio. Unless you opt for the base model Omega, iQ comes fitted with internal flash memory to store ripped audio CDs. Backseat drivers in the top-of-the-range, long wheelbase Caprice V can be distracted by that car's standard DVD rear-seat entertainment package.

Satellite navigation and a reversing camera are standard on the Commodore SS-V, Calais V, Caprice and Caprice V. For models where sat nav isn't included, it's an AU$990 option. An extra AU$300 will buy you a reversing camera, unless you're buying a ute, in which case the reversing camera isn't available either as standard or as an option.


On the Commodore, from the base-level Omega through to the range-topping Calais V, the 6.5-inch touchscreen is well situated high up on the dashboard. Step up to the long wheelbase Caprice, though, and the screen is placed further down the dash, making it hard to read in a hurry.

The screen itself is a bit low-resolution for our liking, and probably could do with a bit more vertical space. There's no home-screen, so all of the functions are accessed via the physical buttons that flank the display. All models feature dials and buttons on the steering wheel that allow the driver to adjust the volume, change media source, skip tracks/stations and answer or hang up on calls. The on-screen interface is quite easy to master, although some buttons and menu items are on the small side, making them hard to hit accurately in a rush.

Although it's operated by its own set of physical controls, the display for the standard climate-control air-conditioning system is on the iQ screen. Unfortunately, discerning the set temperature, fan speed, in-use vents or outside temperature is difficult, as there's no dedicated screen for all of this information; rather, a simple summary strip along the top that's cluttered with icons, gauges, acronyms and numbers.


Naturally, sound quality varies between different models, with higher spec (and higher priced) editions sporting more speakers and greater fidelity.

All models feature a CD drive, although on some models the slot's design is a little too cute. On the Commodore SS-V, for instance, we weren't able to locate the slot until our second day with the car, because the unit's piano black bezel and the dashboard's dark grey plastic contrived to hide the damn thing. Also standard is an auxiliary jack and a USB port. While the latter is compatible with iPods and iPhones, WMA and MP3 files that are stored on flash memory drives may be a better bet. That's because scrolling through long lists of albums, artists or songs on devices running iOS 4 or higher is slower than swimming in molasses.

On every model — bar the base Commodore Omega — there's 1GB of internal flash memory that can be used to store up to 15 ripped CDs. A good deal of patience is required as an average CD takes upwards of 15 minutes to rip, with the CD drive and virtual changer out of commission during that period. Users can enter album and track names for discs stored in iQ, but titles are limited to 18 characters in length.

Radio reception is decent, and there's station ID and track information displayed on FM stations that support the RDS standard.


Even if you've been prodding around on the iQ system for a little while, say selecting your tunes for a long drive, the navigation system doesn't seem to start up until it's first called upon. This means that you'll have to sit patiently through another lull as you wait for it to gather its thoughts. Even when you've waltzed past the obligatory legal warning and are shown the destination entry screen, the system's response to your inputs will still lag behind for a while longer.

Thanks to the unit's on-screen QWERTY keyboard and predictive text, destination-entry is straightforward. Route calculation times are on the long side, and while the routes themselves aren't any worse than those offered up by other sat nav systems, iQ does have a small habit of freaking out on long routes, unilaterally declaring that there's no way of getting to B. Another annoying oddity that occurs on long journeys is the sometimes oft-repeated instruction, "stay on this road for a long time".

Features-wise, iQ's sat nav system might be missing text-to-speech for spoken street names, but it more than makes up for this with a whole host of other goodies. The best of these is speed limit information that's present for most roads; this is displayed as either a small, hard-to-read icon in the bottom-left corner of the touchscreen or, should you so configure it, on the LCD screen in the middle of the instrument cluster. This screen can also display next turn instructions and a digital speedo in a convenient location.

Unusually for a factory-fit system, iQ also has speed and red light camera alerts. On the downside, the alert message on the instrument display obscures the digital speedo, a slight issue when you're rushing headlong towards a speed camera. There are also alerts for school zones, but unfortunately these warnings occur whenever you enter within a certain radius of a school. So you can be zipping happily along a freeway or driving well below ground, only to be rudely (and incorrectly) informed that you're entering a school zone. At least these warnings are time-of-day-dependent, ruling out incorrect alerts at midnight.

Lane-guidance is present, too, but it's limited to intersections and exits on freeways and highways, and appears as a set of small red and green bars on the main display that's hard to discern at speed. Other features include 3D map-view and a lifetime Suna traffic messaging subscription. As we've mentioned in other GPS reviews, the usefulness of the traffic system varies wildly. On some days, it will save you valuable time; on others, it will alert you to traffic delays that have long since cleared up, or not even have the jam that you're stuck in on its records. As the iQ system is a text-to-speech-free zone, it will either inform you of an "incident in X kilometres" or just re-route you. Traffic delays are highlighted on the map screen with pink arrows, and the driver can also call up a list of traffic incidents with full-page descriptions, although it won't let you easily jump to a map-view of said event.

Phone and customisation

With its quiet cabin, holding long phone conversations in either a Commodore or a Caprice is an enjoyable thing to do. Unfortunately, like music-filled iPods, navigating through a phonebook via the iQ's touchscreen is about as slow and enjoyable as lodging a council planning application in Swahili. Without any form of voice recognition to help us out, our phone usage was limited to receiving calls and phoning recent callers, unless we were willing to pull over to use our phone's interface instead.

All of the iQ system's configuration options outside of nav system are housed under the Config button. This makes simple tasks, like adjusting the audio system's bass or balance, a bit trickier than they should be, but should be a boon to anyone who wants to allow their co-pilot to use the on-screen keyboard whilst the car's on-the-move.


It has its share of annoying quirks and faults, but iQ is admirable for its impressive feature set and unique inclusions, and is a huge step forward for Holden's locally made vehicles. Hopefully, the company sets about quietly refining the system and squishing the bugs.

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JohnD13 Facebook

"Very disappointing."

JohnD13 posted a review   

The Good:The radio and CD systems work

The Bad:Navigation, air-conditioning and phone components are bad.

I have a 2012 Commodore SSV Z V8 with this useless IQ system on it. Problems as follow;
a) I have to connect my Samsung Galaxy 4 each time I get in the car and invariably it loses the contact list during transit.
b) The Navigation system is completely inaccurate. Cannot be used.
c) My dual air-conditioning system misfunctions. Cold air instead of hot and vise versa.
In short, Holden are supposedly going to replace the unit - am not holding my breath given their track record with me.
Finally, I'm not surprised that they'll probably stop manufacturing in Oz - given that they're so incompetent.
I have driven Holden's for the last 20 years BUT this is the last one. I will never buy another Holden again.


brads25 posted a comment   

I have the sat nav as part of the Thunder, I wish I hadn't. The roads are so out of date. It misses suburbs as well as roads hat have been around for over 5 years. The times on the route are so far out that you cant rely on them. I planned a route from Perth to Esperance around 8 hours drive, the sat nav said I would be there in 12 hours although the route was correct. Not a good move. Holden was not intreasted sayig there is nohing they can do here's a referance number.


"IQ sat nav very poor choice in todays market"

eagle2012 posted a review   

The Good:Non

The Bad:Expensive and even more expensive to maintain

I Have Holden VE SSV Sports wagon fitted with IQ Sat Sav only a short while and have found in that time it has major shortcomings. Many misnamed suburbs. NO spoken street names directions. No specific lane change instructions. The distance to turn spoken instructions differ from distance metered.The touch screen is not a touch screen, it needs a pressure touch. It is also picky where it is actually touchable. The streets and instructions appear 2 years out of date and updates cost more up to $600. They also can only be done by the dealer. My iphone has a cheap sat nav app with free updates and is way better.
GMH have poor response to inquires.
Suggest you re-review this piece of junk.


JamieS3 posted a comment   

Wow is that really true hadnt noticed yet that's $@£%¥* and the arial is **** to so why is that so can it be fixed and can you upgrade the speakers


MattF4 posted a comment   

The Bluetooth car kit is unusable when the other person is on a speakerphone as well. My previous cars I've had no problems with the built in kits, but this one is the bane of my existence. I have found if I hit the mute button on my iPhone it fixes the problem, but then I can%u2019t talk, on the positive side, at least I can understand what the other person is saying. I am assuming there is some audio loop that the phone just can't deal with. Hopefully the next firmware update will fix the problem, but knowing Holden, probably not..


"Holden IQ (no stereo imaging for radio FM)"

andrei77 posted a review   

The Good:phone integration

The Bad:FM radio is not in STEREO

you forgot to mention that none of the IQ units play FM in stereo. (stereo is where the left speaker/s play a different sound to the right which results in stereo imaging). The IQ unit FM radio sound is akin to a tradesmans dashboard speaker in the workvan - totally rubbish. I have tested against the brand new cars (mine is nine mths old) at the yard and they are all exactly the same. The only way to get stereo FM is to stream from the net to your iphone and connect to car via the bluetooth function but then you are paying download rates just to listen to something that should be free. Major design flaw. And if you can't hear what im talking about - then don't bother with 2.1 or 5.1 or 7.1 surround sounds as apparently it's wasted on you. Its a bitter disappointment. To be honest I would have bought the falcon xr6 if I had realised during the test drive as I listen to the radio only when driving.

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User Reviews / Comments  Holden-iQ

  • JohnD13



    "I have a 2012 Commodore SSV Z V8 with this useless IQ system on it. Problems as follow;
    a) I have to connect my Samsung Galaxy 4 each time I get in the car and invariably it loses the contact..."

  • brads25


    "I have the sat nav as part of the Thunder, I wish I hadn't. The roads are so out of date. It misses suburbs as well as roads hat have been around for over 5 years. The times on the route are so far..."

  • eagle2012



    "I Have Holden VE SSV Sports wagon fitted with IQ Sat Sav only a short while and have found in that time it has major shortcomings. Many misnamed suburbs. NO spoken street names directions. No speci..."

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