Can The 2018 Holden ZB Calais-V Make Us Forget Its Predecessor?

No longer is the Holden Commodore, one of Australia’s most iconic passenger cars, assembled locally. Now, the new-generation model is imported exclusively from Germany.

Whether that’s a good thing or not, is a debate worth having another time. What we’re interested here is this direct comparison between the all-new Commodore ZB Calais-V and its predecessor, the VF Calais-V, two cars running on completely different platforms.

The ‘ZB’ is Holden’s fifth-generation Commodore, and as you well know, it’s a re-badged Opel/Vauxhall Insignia, based on GM’s E2XX platform, which also underpins the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick Regal.

Compared to the fourth-gen car, the ZB is smaller, features four and six-cylinder engine options and is even available with front wheel drive, which isn’t tremendously appealing for driving enthusiasts, especially those who owned or ever got to drive a RWD Commodore.

Yet, according to Motoring, the ZB Calais-V does just enough to stand out in a positive manner when parked next to the older VF Calais-V model. It features a more modern interior, better tech/safety and more practicality. On the road, it even feels more planted and offers a “more composed ride”.

Now, while all that may be true, there is one question that will probably keep lingering on for a while – is the new Commodore more fun to drive than the old one? Some would argue that it isn’t.


  • LeStori

    People bought Holden because they thought they were buying “Australian”. Even the imported models were mistakenly thought to be made here by many people. Now all Holdens and Fords are imported. There is no reason not to look at other manufacturers. Opel was once another GM company.(since sold to PSA) It’s only claim to fame is it is “German”. In the same way as Holden was “Australian”. Good luck with that…

    • Blake Stafford

      Opel’s are made in Germany and most of the small to mid size models were developed by Opel Germany. So in that sense you are completely wrong.

      • GT

        I think his point is Opel will lose some of its Germanness under PSA, I would argue Opel will just have French bits and not American bits, but be just as German as before.

        • emjayay

          Probably the next generation of any Opel model will share a lot with a corresponding PSA model, like VW’s and Seats and Skodas. I haven’t read about the plans for design centers or anything. I think there is already some Opel that shares platforms with some PSA vehicle.

          I don’t think you can get away with olde tyme simple badge engineering (like Insignia/Rega/Commodore) today without an ocean in between. But European buying habits seem to still be somewhat national. I was just in Belgium and there were shitloads of Renaults, Peugeots, and Citroens but then a few hour (high speed, like every other country has) train ride away in Germany and it was mostly VWs, Mercedes (Mercedi?), Audis, and Opels.

          Once again I don’t really get the sale of Opel since Buick in the US and China and now Australia are all for example selling the same Insignia/Regal/Commodore, riding on the same chassis as the Malibu with a body design from Germany. And also a lot of other models, and not even bothering with a different body style.

      • LeStori

        Totally missed my point. Why would an Australian buyer purchase an imported product from a previously GM and now PSA company when there are a large number of manufacturers out there. Whilst Holden was manufacturing some cars in Australia there was the Aussie made situation. Now their product is fully imported.
        What is special about Opel.Their product under GM was “inferior” to Ford Europe IMO. Cannot see it improving under PSA. Being a German manufactuer does not mean top quality. So good luck to GM-Holden in Australia selling these vehicles. I suspect they will need it.

        • Steel Punk

          Yep, that’s why Holden’s market share keeps dropping. Much better options than most Holden products.

    • eb110americana

      I feel for the Aussies, as losing your domestic RWD muscle cars sucks whether you’re American or Australian. I wonder what the next Holdens will be, as I believe Holden is still GM, yes? With no more GM Opel/Vauxhall models, will they be Chevrolets, Buicks, or “Daewoos”?

      • Zandit75

        We are getting a couple of GMUS products coming through, namely the Arcadia, but there are still some products sourced from GM Korea(Formerly Daewoo)
        The main problem with getting US products to fill the PSA hole in the future is their lack of RHD built vehicles. A lot of the current models were not designed with RHD in mind, so we’ll have to wait for the next generation to ave this factored in.
        The Silverado, Corvette and Camaro are all coming next year, but they are being converted to LHD here in Australia, at a huge price increase. At least they will still be covered by manufacturer warranty.

    • Autoexperte

      Opel Insignia and Opel Zafira are from Rüsselsheim (Germany) and Opel Adam and Opel Corsa from Eisenach (Germany)

    • Jawohl

      No buddy. Holden even focused it advertising around Astra TS being a euro model!

  • Puddingpopper

    Sounds like a Calais of malaise

  • emjayay

    Well, not American made although it’s possible GM sends some bits over since the platform and probably some structure and a lot of other things are shared with the Malibu. Every car made anywhere these days has parts from various other countries. The previous generation US Regal was made in Russelheim for the first year and then they started making them in Canada. It seems like the new 2018-on generation is only made in Germany, at least this far.

  • Knotmyrealname

    Did he do the road test via the landline?

  • Which didn’t really matter, saloon sales are on slump in Australia.

  • Steel Punk

    It’s the bar of soap on wheels look. Bloody boring.

  • Knotmyrealname

    Where in Oz do you live? I was in Melbourne recently and there were many on the road.

  • GT

    Course there is, it’s a GM car.

  • devilsman60

    I have driven the new ZB Commodore in each of the variants and driven most of the previous Commodores over the years. The ZB is a great car to drive, probably easier to drive than past models and far safer in handling and better performance, aside from the V8 Commodore which was an exception car especially for the money. The biggest issue is that generally the Australian public and fleets are turning to SUV’s, LCV’s and small hatchback style cars. The days of the Mid/large car being the default family/company car is gone.

  • MrP

    Yep, have only see 1 or 2 of them on the road so far .. Having said
    that, I’ve had my 2013 GJ Mazda 6 for 5 years and hardly see the same on
    the roads either!

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