SPORTING royalty needed a chariot. Australian captain Michael Clarke was the walking wounded having strained the right side of his troublesome body.
Leaving the hallow Adelaide Oval confines he needed comfort and space and in his time of need the leader of our national team chose a tried and trusted chariot.
The Holden Commodore Sportwagon SV6 delivered the refuge he was seeking on the way to hospital.
While the sight of Clarke injured wasn't a rarity, the Commodore and its derivatives are becoming scarce.
Australian manufacturing is on borrowed time, and like Ford and Toyota, Holden's closure of its local factory is imminent. The once heady Commodore sales numbers have been banished to the history books.
For much of my life a Commodore has been in the driveway. Holden's iconic offering was part of the family over four different models for more than 20 years, and the new Sportwagon carries a modern feel with a sentimental edge.
While the Commodore nameplate will live on, it won't be anything like this offering.
Likely to be front-wheel drive, it will be a rebadged vehicle from the existing General Motors stable.
But the Commodore and the Sportwagon will be around for a couple of years yet, and both are still an excellent choice for those who tackle big kilometres each year and need generous cabin space.
Just like the sedan, five adults can load into the Sportwagon with ease. Only the rear seat passenger in the centre pew has leg room impeded by the transmission tunnel, yet there is acres of space with excellent shoulder, head and elbow room.
That spacious formula hasn't changed in decades. But the interior certainly has.
Interior appointments of the VF model range (launched back in 2013) delivered quality and maturity never seen before in a Commodore. The colour touch-screen, leather trimmed dash together with the swooping lines and glossy finishes make for a classy look.
The driver has a chunky steering wheel along with an uncluttered view of operations. Two analogue gauges sit either side of a digital display, which has a range of trip information and can also be set as a speedo which was our preference for easier reference.
On the road
Just like slipping on an old pair of jeans, it took little more than a squirt of the accelerator from the Holden dealership to rekindle fond memories.
The rear-wheel configuration and the hairy-chested performance from the V6 are a joy to pilot. Holden engineers have done an outstanding job with the steering feel even if it is electric, perhaps not as good as Ford with the last Falcon, yet it's predictable and confident with every turn.
Body roll is pretty minimal for an offering of this size and we just loved the ability to plant the foot and have the immediate punch at our disposal.
What do you get?
The latest MY15 variants get a full sized spare, as it should have been from the start, and these SV6 models get more sporting trinkets over the Evokes. Standard kit still includes dual zone air con, rear view camera, front and rear park assist, automatic parking for parallel and right-angle spots, 18-inch alloys, blind spot warning and cross traffic alert, 20cm touch-screen with Bluetooth connectivity and CD player, sat nav, along with sports seats and an external body kit.
With Ford no longer offering a wagon, there aren't too many in the line-up. About the only primary competitor is the Skoda Superb Elegance ($41,690), or the smaller Mazda6 Touring ($38,800) and Peugeot 508 Allure ($42,490).
Servicing is at the lower end of the spectrum, with capped price maintenance available. The intervals are shorter than many other manufacturers, though, at nine months for those not doing more than 10,000km a year.
Expect average fuel consumption of about 10 litres for every 100km, but more like 13-14 if you drive mainly around town.
Partly a victim of its own styling, the rear space is not as expansive as bygone wagons. With 60-40 split-fold rear sits the Sportwagon still offers an excellent load area, although the boot area is not gigantic.
Storage and functionality is a major trump card. Large cup holders in the console can handle larger drink bottles, while there is a great spot in front of the shifter for stuff like phones and keys.
Another pair of cup holders are in the rear seat, and there is a large centre console compartment for more gear along with access to a power socket.
Most of the external upgrades to the VF were on the sedan, primarily around the boot. The Sportwagon is beginning to look a little tired, although the SV6 has a sporting persona with its body kit and alloys.
Retaining the space, rear-wheel drive and six-cylinder power which made the Commodore so popular, the contemporary Sportwagon is high-tech and much advanced on those which have served Australians so well for decades.
Yet getting behind the wheel of a Commodore feels almost historic.
The declining popularity of large cars and the demise of local manufacturing is well documented and Holden will build its last car here in 2017.
It's a sad aspect of modern manufacturing, as this car remains extremely capable and an excellent choice for families.
What matters most
What we liked: Old-school V6 power, combination of space and functionality, in-built apps and connectivity.
What we'd like to see: External refresh, more respect for the badge from modern punters.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year, 100,000km warranty. Servicing intervals are every 15,000km or nine months. Capped price servicing available up to 60,000km, $185 for the first four services.
Model: Holden VF Commodore Sportwagon SV6.
Details: Five-door five-seat rear-wheel drive large wagon.
Engine: 3.6-litre V6 generating maximum power of 210kW @ 6700rpm and 350Nm @ 2800rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Consumption: 9.3 litres/100km (combined average).
Bottom line plus on-roads: $40,990.
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