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Holden VZ Adventra CX6 Test

16 July, 2005

The V6 Adventra CX6 should reawaken interest in the Commodore-based AWD wagon.

By Michael Knowling

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At a glance...

  • Attractive base price..
  • But optional extras can blow the budget
  • Relatively economical 3.6 litre V6
  • Strained open-road overtaking performance
  • Stable and safe on a variety of surfaces
  • Impressive engineering sophistication

The Holden Adventra AWD has sold poorly in recent times, but buyer interest should reignite with the introduction of the keenly priced V6 version.

At AUD$46,990, the middle-of-the-range Holden Adventra CX6 provides an excellent combination of accommodation, flexibility and sophistication. But the big question is whether the 1910kg Adventra can survive with a 3.6 litre V6 where previously all models were equipped with a 5.7 litre V8.

Well, it does manage to get by – but nothing more.

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With 90 percent of peak torque (340Nm) available from 1570 to 5870 rpm, the ‘high performance’ Alloytec V6 is tractable and relatively flexible but it isn’t a patch on the V8 model. Overtaking on the open road isn’t a lazy, effortless manoeuvre – the V6 needs to be revved into the zone where it sounds and feels like there’s a harmonic imbalance. There’s a substantial 190kW of power at 6500 rpm but venturing to high revs means enduring the engine’s NVH shortcomings.

It’s just as well the CX6 has a 5-speed auto transmission that’s calibrated to make the most of the V6’s grunt. The transmission is smooth, willing to kick down at part throttle and rarely picks a too-high gear. The CX6 also features an Active Select system that comprises a pair of gear select paddles behind the steering wheel spokes. The Active Select mode must be manually engaged using a button on the centre console before you can use the paddle gear selectors. These paddles make the Adventra much sportier to drive (because you can enter and exit a corner holding the optimum gear) but they are easy to lose when steering the Adventra through a series of corners. A +/- style section on the main gear selector would be more convenient.

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Our test Adventra CX6 returned fuel economy far superior to a V8 version and better than we’ve achieved in the rival Ford Territory AWD. In city/urban conditions we returned just under 17 litres per 100km while a country trip (which involved some dirt track entertainment and a few all-out passing manoeuvres) achieved 15.5 litres per 100km. A 75 litre tank gives the V6 Adventra a useable touring range and it’s happy to accept normal 91 RON unleaded (which is more widely available in country areas than premium unleaded).

With a tank full of fuel and a cool ambient temperature, the Adventra CX6 can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in the low 9 second range. This is respectable performance but the gruff nature of the engine means that holding full throttle for more than a few seconds isn’t a pleasurable experience.  

But the Adventra’s Cross Trac AWD system combined with ESP (Electronic Stability Program) does give a lot of pleasure.

On bitumen, the rear-bias Cross Trac AWD system gives a driving feel similar to a conventional Commodore. Turn-in is responsive and you can apply power from the apex without worry of sliding. Operation of the stability control system is noticeable in tight manoeuvres, where it can be felt pulling the front-end into line (the Adventra will understeer when pushed hard into a corner). The system should be regarded as an additional safety feature rather than a high-performance driving aid – it will ‘catch you’ in emergency situations but will let you understeer when you really don’t want to release the throttle...

Interestingly, our test car was fitted with Holden by Design 18 inch wheels wearing high-performance 245/45 17 Bridgestone Potenza S-03s (the standard combination comprises 17 inch wheels with 225/55 Bridgestone Turanzas). Certainly, the upgrade wheel package looks fantastic - but it isn’t all good news. There is noticeable tramlining (which seems related to the wheels/tyres) and increased impact harshness ruins an otherwise comfortable ride. The low profile tyres are also a dampener when venturing off the bitumen – the thought of hitting a hole and damaging a rim is always in the back of your mind.

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On gravel, the combination of Cross Trac AWD and stability control is awesome - extremely safe and fun. The system allows some sliding before stepping in and pointing the nose in the desired direction. The stability control system also includes Cornering Brake Control to maintain stability when braking hard and steering simultaneously. This system does its job well – you can hear and feel the stability control and anti-lock brake systems working overtime!

Another useful feature is Hill Decent Control. Simply push a button on the centre console and the Adventra will crawl down a steep hill without your needing to apply the brake pedal. Descent speed can be altered using the cruise control switch - it’s extremely easy to use.

Braking performance of the Adventra is impressive on all surfaces. Using the latest Bosch 8.0 ABS, electronic brake assist and EBD, the CX6 is utterly composed during hard braking.

The power-assisted rack and pinion steering is decent but it’s slightly too heavy at parking speeds and there is some kickback during hard cornering.

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Inside, the Adventra CX6 is well equipped. The stand-out features include leather trim, climate control, multi-function trip computer, rear parking beepers, 4 airbags and a decent sounding 6-disc audio system. A storage facility is also built into the top of the dashboard – unfortunately, the compartment lid of our test car got stuck half way through its movement...

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Our test car was crammed with a host of extra-cost options that gave the mid-spec CX6 an upmarket feel. An electric tilt/slide glass sunroof, satellite navigation, cargo barrier and rear DVD player are just some of the extra cost items found in this particular example. Most of these extras integrate well, although the flip-down rear DVD screen blocks rear vision through the centre mirror – rear passengers shouldn’t use the screen while you’re driving.

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Interior space is plentiful while access to the seats and cargo area is easy thanks to the Adventra’s modestly raised ride height. The Adventra’s cargo area is big enough to accept a mountain of camping gear, but the optional 31-litre fridge fitted in our test car consumes a considerable amount of space. The 60/40 split backrest can be folded forward for occasions that require monstrous carrying capacity. The Adventra also has a handy lift-up tailgate window, cargo blind, plenty of rear storage compartments and a 12V accessory socket. A 17 inch spare wheel is accessible beneath the cargo area false floor.

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Visually, the Adventra is a macho looking machine with its widened track, flared wheel arches, roof rails and lower body mouldings. In addition to its upgrade wheels and tyres, our test vehicle was further distinguished with an optional front bar and high-power driving lights (which provide fantastic long-range illumination). The body is reasonably well finished though the unpainted plastic trims will probably deteriorate over time.

Adventra CX6 – a Technical Feast

The Holden Adventra CX6 brings a wealth of technology that we could only dream about a couple of years ago. Remember, it wasn’t long ago Holden made a big deal about the extra link they chucked into their trailing arm IRS...

The Adventra takes the tech challenge right up to the expensive Audi and Volvo soft-roaders with a sophisticated engine boasting variable inlet and exhaust cam timing, 4 valves per cylinder, a variable intake manifold, 10.2:1 compression ratio, electronic throttle control, direct-fire ignition and twin knock sensors. The driveline features a 5-speed automatic transmission with Active Select shift system and a rear-bias electronic-controlled AWD.

And don’t forget stability control, corner brake control, hill descent control and electronic brake assist with the latest ABS...

Impressive stuff!

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With a base price of AUD$46,990, the Adventra CX6 is a lot of vehicle for the money – and, significantly, it manages to under-cut the mid-spec Ford Territory AWD by around 2 grand. But be aware that the price can blow out when you start adding options like those found in our test car. With around 14 grand worth of extras – 18 inch wheels, navigation, DVD, sunroof, nudge bar, fridge and more – the CX6 is soon elevated into the price bracket of the Audi Allroad and Volvo XC70.

Keep a close eye on extra-cost options and you’ll end up with a very capable and sophisticated vehicle at a bargain price.

The VZ Adventra CX6 was provided for this test by Holden Australia . www.holden.com.au

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