2012 Holden Commodore LPG Review and First Drive

by under Review on 22 Feb 2012 02:43:27 PM22 Feb 2012
-AA000BUKT6
2012 HOLDEN COMMODORE
Price Range
$35,490 - $61,790
Fuel Consumption
8.9L - 14.6L/100km
4RATING
PROS

Big car space with small car fuel costs; Commodore’s driving dynamics; high-standard Holden engineer

CONS

Six-speed auto not the slickest

Holden has added to its alternative fuel onslaught by introducing a wider selection of LPG Commodore models for 2012. No longer a ‘dual-fuel’ system, Holden has developed a technically-superb dedicated LPG system for enhanced fuel consumption/reduced emissions and high-standard driving dynamics.

Headlining the advances of this world-first local engineering, the 3.6-litre DOHC V6 engine in the Holden LPG Commodore Omega emits exhaust C02 emissions as low as 189g/km – the lowest figure of any Australian-made six-cylinder sedan. In fact every 2012 Holden LPG Commodore has exhaust emission below 200g/km.

Importantly, the availability of LPG Commodores in a wider selection of models means this technology is no longer just for fleet operators. Performance Commodore SV6 buyers and even luxury long wheelbase Caprice customers can now opt for environmentally-friendly LPG in a fully factory-developed and fitted package. 

2012 HOLDEN COMMODORE 4D SEDAN



And the extra good news is Holden’s new LPG tank technology means you need not sacrifice luggage space for the tank.

Some 3,300 Australian service stations (around 50 per cent of the total) now have LPG pumps and you can easily circumnavigate the country using LPG. Of course that’s a lot easier in the latest 2012 Holden LPG Commodore which affords a range of more than 700kms between refills.

LPG is an indigenous fuel which is very efficient (typically 100-110 RON compared to 91 RON for unleaded petrol). It burns cleanly and thus is low in NOX and C02.

Australia has plenty of LPG reserves and with more being available as the North West Shelf operation expands, we have a significant export opportunity as well.

2012 Holden LPG Commodore Overview


Previously Holden offered its ‘dual-fuel’ LPG system only in Commodore sedan Omega and Berlina models and the Commodore ute in Omega model grade. Clearly that strategy was targeting fleet and commercial buyers.

Now Holden has introduced the dedicated Holden LPG Commodore option across the range. You can spec the technically advanced LPG system in Commodore sedan (Omega, Berlina and sporty SV6), Commodore Ute (Omega and SV6) and luxury long-wheelbase Caprice (but not Caprice V-Series).

And you can buy with confidence. Holden has specifically developed safety for the LPG Commodore and its tank, backed-up by simulated and real crash tests and 1,300,000 test kilometers in 78 vehicles. Like the rest of the VE Commodore range, the LPG versions are rated at the maximum five-star level by ANCAP. 

2012 HOLDEN COMMODORE 4D SEDAN



For an introductory special edition, Holden Caprice buyers can snare the LPG version for the same price as the petrol Caprice ($61,990). Otherwise the LPG version adds $2,500 to the equivalent petrol-powered Commodore model – but private buyers can secure a $2,000 rebate from the Federal Government.

Cost of ownership is the crucial figure - Holden LPG Commodore runs an 84-litre tank which costs roughly $55 to fill. Based on average monthly driving of 2,000kms, an LPG Holden Commodore would cost $1,300 per year to run, compared to $800 per year for Toyota’s smaller 100kW/175Nm, four-cylinder Corolla hatchback.

While the cost of LPG at the pump is, like petrol, largely controlled by the Saudi oil barons, LPG price fluctuations have historically not been as volatile as petrol. For example the recent LPG price spike has been caused by ramped-up demand in Europe as the Northern hemisphere shivers through a monumental winter…expect LPG prices to drop locally when the north thaws-out.

2012 Holden LPG Commodore Engine


Extensive re-working of Holden’s 3.6-litre DOHC V6 engine has been undertaken for the LPG application.

Inside there are hardened valves and valve seats, new pistons and a 12.2:1 compression ratio. And on the outside a new fuel injection system developed by Holden specifically for the LPG Commodore with unique calibration and injectors precisely located to optimize injection of the LPG in vapour form.

Maximum power is 180kW at 6000rpm and peak torque of 320Nm arrives at 2000rpm.

2012 HOLDEN COMMODORE 4D SEDAN

But here are the good stats:

• Exhaust C02 emissions are down to as low as 189g/km (LPG Commodore Omega) and all Holden LPG Commodores are below 200g/km
• Fuel consumption is 13 per cent better than the superseded ‘dual-fuel’ LPG commodore (11.8l/km for the Omega and Berlina LPG)
That all adds up to a 4.5-star rating in the federal Government’s Green Vehicle Guide.

Drive is to the rear wheels via a new six-speed automatic transmission which Holden says is lighter, smarter and introduces new control technology foe enhanced driveability.

2012 Holden LPG Commodore The Interior


No changes inside with LPG versions of the Holden Caprice, Commodore sedan, ute and Sportwagon all identical to the equivalent petrol models.

2012 HOLDEN COMMODORE 4D SEDAN

 

In the luggage compartment, you can choose for a tyre inflation kit in which case you get the normal Commodore boot or an optional spare tyre neatly mounted on top of the tank (which does slightly reduce cargo space). Wagon owners can select a deflated spare, mounted in the side and inflated when needed.

2012 HOLDEN COMMODORE 4D SEDAN

 

2012 Holden LPG Commodore Exterior & Styling


Again reinforcing Holden’s goal of making the Holden LPG Commodores seamless compared to their regular petrol siblings, there are virtually no external changes – just a small LPG badge on the rear and of course the single exhaust outlet.

2012 Holden LPG Commodore On The Road


We spent a day driving Holden LPG Commodores (sedan, Sportwagon and ute) in Melbourne traffic, some freeways and twisty rural roads around Kangaroo Ground and Eltham. And after a recent diet of compact SUVs and mid-sizers it was nice to be back in the spacious surrounds of an Aussie sedan and enjoying the ample power and chassis balance of the 3.6-litre V6 driving the rear wheels.

And that in a nutshell is why the Holden LPG Commodore succeeds – because it feels just the same as a regular Commodore (with noticeably more mid-range torque thanks to the LPG model’s flatter torque curve…and that’s hardly a bad thing!). 

2012 HOLDEN COMMODORE 4D SEDAN


Maybe those with finely-tuned ears could – like the Ford Falcon EcoLPi – detect a slightly harsher exhaust note under load (Holden LPG Commodore uses a single outlet exhaust with a unique muffler).

So it’s the V6 Commodore we love – precise turn-in, wonderful chassis balance and crisp throttle response.

2012 Holden LPG Commodore Challenges


We know a 180kW/320Nm 3.6-litre V6 engine, driving the rear wheels of a +1.6 tonne sedan is pushing the limits of automatic transmission technology…but the Commodore would benefit from more refinement in the gearbox department – still a bit clunky when working hard up and down the gears.

2012 Holden LPG Commodore Verdict


The ultimate compliment we can pay to the Holden LPG Commodore is to say it’s identical to the petrol version…because that’s the whole idea. Holden wanted the switch from petrol-fuelled to LPG to be seamless and transparent – and it is.

That means the expected Holden Commodore 3.6-litre V6 responsiveness (in fact a bit more due to the revised mid-range torque), the expected Holden Commodore high standard chassis dynamics and the expected Holden Commodore quality. Tick all those boxes.

So let’s talk numbers. The $2,500 LPG option price (less the $2,000 Government rebate for private buyers) and free introductory offer for Holden Caprice is remarkable value. As we know, you get a lot of car for your coin with the Commodore and these LPG pricing strategies show how serious Holden is about its dedicated LPG models.

2012 HOLDEN COMMODORE 4D SEDAN

 

A full-size sedan with a 180kW/320Nm 3.6-litre V6, driving the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission which costs $55 to fill at the bowser, runs more than 700kms on one tank and betters ‘Euro 6’ emissions requirements is, by any measure, a world-class achievement. Designed, engineered and made right here in Australia folks – no wonder the Holden LPG Commodore is ‘correct’ on so many levels for this country.

2012 Holden LPG Commodore The Competition


Ford’s excellent EcoLPi Falcon starts at $31,390 (XL ute) and $39,735 (XT sedan). Like the Holden LPG Commodore, local engineering of the LPG system is superb.

Ford went the liquid injection route for power and torque (extra 3kW/9Nm over the regular petrol Falcon) whereas Holden advanced vapour injection for optimum fuel consumption and exhaust emissions improvements.


Both are great to drive and underscore that local engineers lead the world in LPG development.

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