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2014 Holden WN Caprice V V8 review (video)

The 2014 Holden WN Caprice V V8 is in your face, big, and uses a large-capacity petrol V8 that will make your average hybrid-driving environmentalist scrunch their face up in disgust. We’re here to find out how relevant this latest Caprice is in today’s market, but more than anything else, what it’s like to drive.

2014 Holden WN Caprice V V8 front

V8-powered long-wheelbase sedans might seem extraneous nowadays, however, if you look at the amount of cargo/people they can carry, and the pace they can carry it at, they start to sound very appealing. With the Statesman nameplate retired since 2010, the Caprice is now the only long-wheelbase sedan in the Holden stable.

The new WN Caprice comes in two trim levels; Caprice and Caprice V. The Caprice starts from $54,490 and uses a 3.6-litre LPG-only V6 that produces 180kW and 320Nm. The top-spec Caprice V steps things up in the engine department, offering GM’s 6.0-litre V8 with AFM cylinder-deactivation technology producing 260kW and 517Nm. Both cars feature a six-speed automatic transmission.

As far as direct competition is concerned, the Caprice is now in a class of its own in terms of how much car you get for your money. With the release of the new WN model, Holden has slashed prices by up to $10,000, making it the first time since 1990 that all Caprice models are available under $60,000.

The idea of only offering two models with exclusive drivetrains means Holden can better appeal to its customers; the Caprice LPG V6 will be more suited to fleet buyers, while the V8 Caprice V is perhaps for those with luxury-performance motoring in mind.

Both Caprice models come available in seven different colours; Phantom (black), Karma (blue), Regal Peacock (dark green), Prussian Steel (dark grey), Alchemy (dark purple), Nitrate (silver), and Heron White. All colours expect Heron White cost an extra $550.

2014 Holden WN Caprice V V8 – THE SPECS

Engine: 6.0-litre V8
Output: 260kW@5600rpm / 517Nm@4400rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Drive type: Rear-wheel drive, LSD
Wheels: F: 19×8.0, 245/40  R: 19×8.0, 245/40
ANCAP: Five stars (scored 35.06 out of 37)
Kerb weight: 1851kg
Power-to-weight: 7.11:1 (kg:kW)

Official fuel economy: 12.1L/100km
Economy during test: 13.7L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 71L/91 RON (E85 compatible)
Power efficiency: 18.97kW:L/100km
0-100km/h as tested: 5.9 seconds
Priced from: $59,990 ($60,540 as tested)

2014 Holden WN Caprice V V8 side

2014 Holden WN Caprice V V8 – THE PACKAGE

The Caprice V is by far the most luxurious vehicle Holden has ever made. It features a well laid-out cabin that makes not only the driver feel relaxed, but also all (four) of your passengers. The leather feels a little softer than the outgoing model, and the stitchwork looks a touch more precise.

The new-look front seats offer excellent support and comfort for sporty driving, or long trips. The rear is by far the place to be if you feel like stretching out, though, with more knee and legroom than you could possibly use. The Caprice measures in at 5160mm long, which is 194mm longer than the already-roomy VF Commodore.

2014 Holden WN Caprice V V8 front seats

The base model Caprice comes equipped with leather trim as standard, a proximity key, blind-spot monitors, reverse traffic alert, a reverse camera, remote vehicle start, and front and rear parking sensors.

The Caprice V adds a more deluxe leather interior, with forward collision alert, colour heads-up display, lane departure warning, an electric sunroof, and a rear-passenger entertainment system.

The eight-inch screen in the dash is home to Holden’s desirable new MyLink system. The system itself is easy to navigate through and operate, and features built-in music apps such as Pandora and Stitcher that work well with the punchy nine-speaker Bose system. The system also offers Bluetooth, DVD, aux-in, and USB support, and is used to display the satellite navigation maps.

Exclusive to the Caprice V is a rear passenger entertainment system that features a set of rear LCD screens built into the seatbacks, with remote control and two sets of headphones. The rear entertainment system is super effective for keeping kids, especially on long trips, amused. The LCD screens can be neatly folded away when not in use.

2014 Holden WN Caprice V V8 rear seat entertainment

The Caprice comes with a host of safety features, such as trailer-sway control, traction control, stability control, and six airbags throughout. The current model Caprice was tested by ANCAP and scored 35.06 out of a possible 37 points, handing it a full five-star safety rating.

One of the most talked about features to now come standard on all WN and VF models is Holden’s new auto park assist. When turned on, the system uses radar technology to scan for an available parking spot as you drive forward. When the on-board system detects a parking spot, it advises you what gear to select, and from there all you need to do is control the brake and accelerator while the car controls the steering.

The system is impressive, neatly tucking the big Caprice into tight gaps time and time again. It does take a while for you to trust the system if you’re not used to this kind of technology.

The new Caprice also sees the manual handbrake binned in favour of a new electric park brake that can be operated with just one finger, and will automatically release when you set off.

2014 Holden WN Caprice V V8 driving position

2014 Holden WN Caprice V V8 – THE DRIVE

If you were quick to judge without actually driving the Caprice, you’d think it’d be a big soft pillow that handles like a tank. But it’s far from that. While the passengers sit there and soak up the comfortable ride, the driver is treated to a big chassis that turns you from chauffeur to Russian mafia in a matter of corners.

The sound as you use all of the engine’s available revs sings through the cabin like a V8 should, however, from the outside, the Caprice only emits a slight rumble from behind to let everyone know how many cylinders it’s packing. The engine does lack some low-end torque, but it makes up for it with its eagerness to reach for the rev limit.

Thrusting the Caprice about is almost as much fun as its SS brother. The long-wheelbase, rear-wheel drive layout, together with a limited-slip differential and a powerful V8 engine make for an entertaining drive. The extra length in the wheelbase makes the big Holden less twitchy in the tight stuff, and is more than capable of inducing a few smiles if you’re game enough to switch the traction control off.

The six-speed automatic is eager to hunt for the right gear whether it be in the name of economy, or sprinting to your desired speed. The shifts aren’t lightning fast, but overall they’re instinctive to your driving demands. If you’re keen, you can switch the gear lever to change gears manually, but in a big comfortable limo like this, you barely even think about it. The gears feel well-spaced, and at highway speeds, use the car’s burly toque band to eat up moderate rises in the road without having to shift down.

The new electric steering rack feels responsive and well weighted in both city and highway conditions. Body roll is mildly noticeable, but the large sedan generally tucks in tight and uses its 245-section tyres to claw its way from corner to corner. Having driven the V6-powered 2012 Holden WM Caprice, the V8 model does feel a little more nose-heavy, but it doesn’t detract from the car’s overall handling dynamics.

The brake pedal on the Caprice V doesn’t have the most intuitive action, and can feel quite spongy after repeated pressings when driven actively. In normal everyday driving conditions, the brakes have no trouble pulling up the 1851kg limo.

One surprise we got when testing the V8 Caprice was its fuel consumption. We managed to return 13.5L/100km during our week-long test, a mere 1.4L/100km more than the claimed average. This is the lowest overall combined figure we’ve ever achieved with GM’s 6.0-litre engine. Although, you do tend to prefer a more relaxing driving style in this than in any other V8 Commodore.

2014 Holden WN Caprice V V8 PerformanceDrive

2014 Holden WN Caprice V V8 – THE VIDEO

2014 Holden WN Caprice V V8 – THE VERDICT

Holden’s latest, and evidently last Commodore-derived long-wheelbase limo is a formidable vehicle that combines comfort and performance. Priced at $59,990, the 2014 Holden Caprice V V8 is a lot of car for your hard-earned money.

If you’re considering buying an SUV with space in mind, but deep down you’d prefer to stay with a sedan, the Caprice is worth a look. Or, if you’re into powerful, large V8 sedans, what’s there not to like about the Caprice V?

PROS:
– Rear passenger legroom
– Big presence
– Huge boot
– Plush, comfortable interior
– Strong V8 engine

CONS:
– Hard to shake the taxi stereotype
– Interior trim is easily marked
– Exterior styling not updated
– Poor resale
– Music apps Pandora and Stitcher can be hard to configure

2014 Holden WN Caprice V V8 rear

2014 Holden WN Caprice V V8 – THE COMPETITORS

Chrysler 300 SRT8
6.4-litre V8 – 347kW-631Nm – 13L/100km – 2012kg – from $66,000

Josh was one of the original co-founders of PerformanceDrive. His expertise is car culture and aftermarket performance. He was the editor at Hot4s Magazine for a few years, and has since worked at Fast Fours, Zoom, and as a journalist for The Project Group.