Commodore RS: Plenty of grunt for climbing hills.
Commodore RS: Plenty of grunt for climbing hills.

Commodore takes the salute

The diehards will jeer but I've never had a problem with Holden retaining the Commodore badge for its flagship family car. After all, the first Commodore was based on a German import, so it's simply gone full circle.

After a few weeks behind the wheel of our RS, nothing's changed my mind. The latest addition to the garage feels as if it were cast in the same mould as the locally made version, with the obvious lack of a V8 and rear-drive.

Our first opportunity to stretch this new Commodore's legs was a mountain climb with a liberal sprinkling of hairpins - the kind of road the Aussie-made Commodore was built for.

It made a pretty good fist of the challenge. The four-cylinder turbo (191kW/350Nm) had more than enough grunt for climbing hills.

That's a lot to put through the front wheels but there's no telltale tugging at the steering wheel under acceleration. The nine-speed auto helps to keep the turbo on the boil, too, making for V6-like acceleration off the mark.

A minor gripe: the steering lacked the feel of the previous generation and initial turn-in to corners didn't feel as sharp. No complaints about soaking up bumps and lumps, though.

RS cockpit: Comfortable, spacious, if somewhat dark.
RS cockpit: Comfortable, spacious, if somewhat dark.

The cabin is formal and dark, the seats are comfortable for touring and the smartphone mirroring is easy to use. There's abundant safety tech on the standard car, from auto emergency braking to lane departure warning with steering assist and forward collision alert.

The step up to our RS adds blind-zone alert and rear cross-traffic alert, which works well when pulling out of the driveway with parked cars obscuring your view - even if you're edging out slowly it will let you know as soon as it detects something. The lane-keep assist works well on the freeway but on country roads in dappled light it activates only intermittently, a problem by no means limited to Holden.

The liftback design is a winner. It lets you load bulkier items without the fuss of having to slide them under the parcel shelf, as you would in a conventional design.

First impressions? It's comfortable, spacious and fun on a winding road. Just like a Commodore should be. RB

SORENTO HAS THE MOD-CONS COVERED

We're getting acquainted with the Kia Sorento for a few months after being impressed with how it performed in a recent road test. This generation Sorento has been on sale for about three years but its recent midlife update included subtle styling changes, more advanced safety tech, eight-speed auto and further finessing of the suspension.

Sorento Si: Base diesel is the sweet spot in the range.
Sorento Si: Base diesel is the sweet spot in the range.

We've picked the base Sorento Si diesel, which I reckon is the sweet spot in the range. Full retail is $47,400 drive-away, starting from an RRP of $42,990 plus on-roads. However, Kia has finally - and formally - slashed it to $43,990 drive-away, making it a compelling proposition.

It has most mod-cons covered, including autonomous emergency braking as standard, rear view camera, front and rear sensors, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Sorento is one of the few SUVs with a full-size spare and deserves a special mention for that. What's the point of having a family car for the great outdoors if you have to limp home on a skinny space-saver should you cop a flat?

The Sorento looks fresh for its age and the seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty is still the best in the business, giving it an edge even as more brands are switching from three to five-year warranty coverage.

Sorento driver’s view: Rear-view camera plus smartphone mirroring.
Sorento driver’s view: Rear-view camera plus smartphone mirroring.

It also means that when you sell the car after four or five years (the industry average for new-car ownership) it still has factory warranty left on it, to give the next owner peace of mind.

My favourite aspect, though, is the way it drives. The original version of this generation felt a bit heavy on its tyres, the suspension could thump over some bumps and I would have preferred the steering to be more precise.

The updated model - on smallish 17-inch alloys shod with tyres with a tall sidewall - does a much better job of soaking up bumps and steering with accuracy.

The only things on my wish list so far are a sensor key with push-button start and a power tailgate. First-world problems - and handy features designed to walk buyers up to dearer models in the range. JD


Providing pathway for brighter future

Providing pathway for brighter future

Open day for CQUniversity

Sliding into successful re-opening

Sliding into successful re-opening

Green light for re-opening of the Aquatic Centre

Tireless effort rewarded

Tireless effort rewarded

Nominated for support in region