Direct-injection power, efficiency for Commodore

words - Ken Gratton
'SIDI' engines and six-speed autos provide double-digit percentage gains in efficiency for Holden's large-car range

Holden has balanced a power upgrade against enhanced fuel efficiency following the introduction of two new SIDI engines and six-speed automatics for the Commodore range.

Addressing the car's principal shortcomings, the company has substantially improved the fuel efficiency and the power available in the otherwise lightly revised range. The company claims that the V6 Commodore can now travel inter-city distances (Melbourne to Sydney, specifically) on one tank of fuel and is promoting the new engines as the most fuel-efficient locally-built six-cylinder powerplants.

Both the new engines feature a direct-injection fuel delivery system, with the 3.0-litre engine powering the Omega and Berlina-type variants (including Ute and Sportwagon) and the 3.6-litre engine fitted to SV6, Calais, Statesman and Caprice models.

To be marketed as part of Holden's 'Ecoline' strategy, the new SIDI (Spark Ignition Direct Injection) powerplants produce between seven and 14 per cent fewer CO2 emissions and consume between seven and 13 per cent less fuel, depending on variant.

Mark Reuss, Holden's soon-to-depart MD, welcomed the new engines at a press conference held today in Holden's engine plant at Fishermans Bend.

"Commodore will be the first locally-built vehicle to use this advanced technology in the Australian market," he declared.

"This is a major step forward for the Australian car industry and manufacturing base in Australia -- right here, right now, at Fishermans Bend, in our own backyard.

"It places a more refined Commodore amongst four-cylinder competitors, while delivering the space and flexibility that Australian car buyers clearly want."

It's the smaller displacement 3.0-litre SIDI V6 that will go four-cylinder hunting. According to Holden's comparative figures, the 9.3L/100km combined-cycle fuel consumption figure for most variants powered by this engine puts the Ford Mondeo LX (9.5L/100km) to shame, although many Japanese mid-sizers remain more frugal than even the smaller-capacity V6 Holden.

The 3.0-litre SIDI engine in the Commodore would have put Toyota's Camry to the sword if Toyota hadn't just tweaked that model and reduced fuel consumption from 9.9L/100km to 8.8L/100km. Holden quotes 9.3L/100km for the Omega and Berlina sedans or the Omega Sportwagon, but the figure rises to 9.6L/100km for the Berlina Sportwagon.

With the larger 3.6-litre SIDI engine, the Calais can match the Aurion for fuel efficiency, given its combined-cycle fuel consumption figure of 9.9L/100km. The Calais V, however, still comes up short against the Toyota, with a figure of 10.1L/100km. Combined-cycle fuel consumption figures for the 3.6-litre SIDI engine range from the 9.9L/100km figure, for the Calais, up to 10.3L/100km for all 3.6-litre Sportwagon variants, the Statesman and Caprice. For the SV6 Ute/Sedan autos and the Calais V sedan, the figure is 10.1L/100km and the SV6 Ute/Sedan manuals score 10.2L/100km.

In addition to the bald stats outlined by Holden, the company makes the claim that the new fuel induction technology will reduce cold-start emissions by 25 per cent.

The new engines deliver fuel directly into the combustion chamber rather than into the inlet ports, as happened with the previous engine.

Both 3.0- and 3.6-litre engines are oversquare designs (bore larger than stroke), constructed fully in aluminium. The compression ratio for the larger engine is 11.7:1, versus 11.3:1 for the 3.0-litre. Power and torque figures are: 190kW at 6700rpm/290Nm at 2900rpm (3.0) and 210kW at 6400rpm/350Nm at 2900rpm (3.6).

Both engines are compliant with Euro IV Plus and are tuned to run on 91 RON ULP. Other than the manual variants of the SV6, all Commodore derivatives now run through the 6L50E six-speed automatic transmission. According to Holden spokesperson, Scott Whiffin, there are no changes to the SV6 manual transmission.

To enhance fuel economy further, the 2010 model year Commodore range is also fitted with low-rolling-resistance tyres.

Holden has also tweaked the dual-fuel (petrol/LPG) option for the Commodore, reducing fuel consumption from 14.2L/100km to 13.4L/100km -- a six per cent reduction, the company says. The engine for this application remains the port-injected Alloytec engine.

Holden has kept prices where they are, with the exception of the 3.0-litre SIDI-equipped Omega and Berlina models, which rise in price by $700.

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Published : Tuesday, 4 August 2009
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