Economy challenge in new diesel Holdens

HOLDEN COMMODORE: Now has a 2-litre diesel engine option

I’m always up for a challenge, especially if it’s motoring-related.

I received an invitation from Holden New Zealand to drive two of their new diesel models from Auckland to Northland, with the emphasis on gleaning maximum economy. Even though I don’t have a thrifty driving style I jumped at the opportunity.

The two vehicles were the Equinox and Commodore, both models released originally with petrol engines, the diesels now just arriving on showroom floors.

Both cars have established themselves well in the marketplace, and the diesel option makes a lot of sense in this age of ever-increasing fuel prices.

The economy challenge kicked up some rather remarkable statistics. We were in a group of six drivers and we each had turns in both models. I did try hard on this exercise, however, my efforts were thwarted by a wrong turn when leaving Auckland which presented me with a lot of stop-start in-traffic driving.

Consequently, I didn’t reap the leanest figures, but on average, my time with the Equinox ended with a 5.8l/100km figure, and the Commodore at 4.8l/100km. My Commodore figures were well below the manufacturer’s combined cycle claim of 5.6l/100km.

Both models land fresh from Mexico (Equinox) and Europe (Commodore), the engines are both turbocharged, the Equinox has a 1.6-litre unit, the Commodore has a 2-litre capacity. The Equinox is rated with 100kW and 320Nm, the Commodore has 125kW and a healthy 400Nm of torque. The Equinox has a six-speed automatic transmission, the Commodore drives through an eight-speeder.

The Commodore diesel is available in both liftback and sportwagon variants, while there are three specification levels and choices of two or four-wheel-drive in the Equinox diesel.

Both drive quietly and smoothly and carry the easy-driving characteristics of their petrol stablemates. Through the twisty, winding back roads in the Whangarei district, the Commodore steered with precision and promoted a fabulous ride, the sport utility vehicle Equinox also had balance and accuracy and, like the petrol models, it is the quintessential family wagon.

Prices for the Equinox and Commodore diesel list from $46,990 and $48,990 respectively.