Don't get caught by the VS Commodore hype
It seems (unknown to me at the time of purchase) that VS Commodores come with a common bag of faults and traits. Mention the word VS and dribbling oil comes to mind.
Early VS Commodores had problems with the auto's - some being prone to serious failure with the clutch plates around the 80000 km mark, even when not driven harshly. Secondly the majority of VS Commodore autos torque converters will burn out quite considerably when beyond the 200000 km mark due to a design flaw. Alas mine suffered clutch plate failure (yes auto's have clutch plates) around the 110000 mark, resulting in a $2000 costly changeover. The symptoms being when up shifting from second to third you get a harsh thump and when down-shifting from third to second the engine flares out to about 3000 RPM and when the planetary gear set engages - a harsh thud!
There's also the oil sump seal that needs replacing as it leaks oil. A common trait it seems.
The climate control also packed in resulting in a costly replacement.
The VS Commodore, whether it be the Executive to the Calais, still holds onto the old harsh interior traits of the VN series. If Holden had invested a little more for the interior design then the VS series would be a nicer car.
The Ecotech engine is comparable to the current VT/VX line when it comes to maximum power output, but lacks the refinement of current models. Low-end torque is lesser and mid-high range revs produce a metallic rasp like sound.
One saving grace of the VS Calais is its Independent Rear Suspension, which makes road handling a breath or fresh air – the car hugs corners nicely at high speeds. The one drawback is the wheels only being 6.5 inches wide resulting in loss of traction when you really need it. The VS II Calais alas comes with 7-inch width wheels, which gives the extra traction when rightly needed.
The ‘eco’ in Ecotech is not justly deserved as the economy when city driving is terrible at best - averaging around 15.5 L/100 km. This car is not for the low maintenance owner, as high cost ownership will result in a permanent hole in ones wallet.
I’d suggest holding out to buy a VT Commodore, as the engine and auto refinements, vastly improved interior and improved economy make it the better car to buy.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 29th January, 2002