There’s no EcoLine Active Fuel Management badge on this pilot-build Statesman but one of the digital displays within the instruments is telling me it’s switching between four and eight cylinders.
Holden says it can save at least one litre per 100km on fuel consumption – more if there’s a lot of open-road cruising; the feature will be introduced as standard on all auto-V8 Commodore models from next month.
My right foot will test that theory – a fuel economy world-record-holder I am not.
The 270kW/530Nm V8 Statesman at launch laid claim to a 14.4l/100km combined fuel use figure, which with some mid-life tweaking was down to 13.9, with 330g/km CO2 emissions – there’s no official emissions figure yet but the fuel consumption claim drops to 12.9l/100km.
The V8 engines Holden have been using in the latter stages of VZ and into VE were capable of running the Active Fuel Management system.
Interestingly, the V8 remains in eight-cylinder mode at idle, but drops to four on part throttle cruising, even around town.
The change is largely imperceptible, overshadowed in this particular car by a grumpy, sporadic, part-throttle 2nd-3rd up-change that is not typical of other cog-swaps.
A 160km loop up the freeway saw the trip computer’s metro-average of 16.2 (at 34km/h average speed) drop to 15.5l/100km.
The flat-road highway work only requires a fraction of the engine’s output to overcome wind resistance, drag and maintain momentum.
Instead, a return trip via the hills roads – more corners, less flat bits and lower speeds – did no harm to the numbers, with the trip computer offering 15.1l/100km and the average speed was up to 40km/h.
Not quite hybrid or diesel levels of frugality, but try getting four adults and appropriate luggage from A to B with the same level of comfort and space.
As the rest alert reminder piped up on the information screen, the comfort of the seats was apparent – two hours without a stop and no numb bum or lower back complaints.
The Statesman is not quite the old codger of the Holden range but it’s certainly set up to appeal to those empty-nesters who like comfort over cornering.
The five-metre pollie favourite still steers nicely but the suspension and the rubber is most certainly set up for comfort, moving around more on its underpinnings.
Once settled it corners but the lean is certainly more than the Caprice – a comfortable ride is the trade-off and it soaks bumps up without any issues.
The AFM system comes only with the six-speed automatic and there’s also a drop in power and torque – down 10kW to 260kW of power and torque has been reduced from 530 to 517Nm.
It cruises quietly and even under full throttle there’s only the distant sound of V8 thunder.
In terms of cabin space and metal for the money, there are not too many passenger cars under $200,000 that will provide similarly cavernous cabins.
At a little over 5.1 metres long and 1.9 metres wide, the Statesman is a mammoth vehicle, with a 3009mm-wheelbase and a commanding road presence.
The rear seat space is considerable – particularly legroom – so you’d have to get long-wheelbase examples of a Mercedes-Benz S500, Audi A8 4.2 or BMW 750i to match the grunt and the space.
The boot is quite sizeable and easily copes with a Christmas day load of presents, strollers and the like – it isn’t overly deep but the length is considerable.
Of course, the Europeans have the local beaten for fuel economy – even with the AFM – but the $200,000-plus imports are also chock fuel of gear and features.
There’s no standard satnav, xenon headlights, memory for the power-adjustable driver’s seat, TV or DVD player or some of the other high-end features of ze Germans in the Holden.
The Statesman does get parking radar front and rear, stability control, 17in alloy wheels, dual front, side and full-length curtain airbags.
Given the size of the cabin the ventilation to the rear is a little lack-lustre, and the aircon takes a while to cool the large passenger space.
Perhaps the climate control with added grunt that is used in the Middle East export versions needs to be employed in its home market as well.
For those who still yearn for space, comfort and the ample torque of a (slightly less thirsty) V8, the long-wheelbase Holden range is a worthy addition to your garage.
Price: from $65,990.
Engine: six-litre 16-valve OHV Active Fuel Management alloy V8.
Transmission: six-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive.
Power: 260kW @ 5700rpm.
Torque: 517Nm @ 4400rpm.
Fuel consumption: 12.9litres/100km
– The Advertiser