Better than a VR Commodore to drive and be in, gutsy V6, good economy, cheap to run and maintain, spacious and friendly family car
We Don't Like:
Still a little rough around the edges, low-fi interior ambience, no match for '96 TE Magna V6
Car company marketing gurus are constantly looking at ways of mixing and matching specifications and options in their model ranges to come up with fresh packages to titillate the prospective buyer. Names like Vacationer, Esteem, Live-wire, Grand Slam, Reebok, Rallye Special and even Carla Zampatti are constantly being presented to the market to generate excitement and variety. These special models often have a short lifespan but in the case of the Commodore Acclaim the initial package proved so successful the model now forms a permanent part of the range.
Initiated with the VR Commodore in 1993, the Acclaim was a clever blend of safety features and extras which created a unique identity for the car. The inclusion of a driver's airbag - an industry first in the popular market - independent rear suspension and anti-lock brakes completed a convincing safety package. The VS Acclaim was introduced in 1995. It had a revised V6 engine with changes to the ageing locally-assembled Buick-designed unit to make it smoother, more powerful and more economical. Drive is to the rear wheels via a four-speed automatic with no manual box available. Airbags became standard for driver and passenger while the ABS and independent rear suspension remain in the Acclaim package. Other features include cruise control, power mirrors, power steering and a six-speaker radio/cassette. The VS featured changes to the interior trim making the inside, with room for five adults, more attractive. An adjustable steering wheel and ample seat adjustment mean drivers of all shapes and sizes can get themselves comfortable. The seat cushions are flat and slightly hard but comfortable on a long drive. Interior boot and fuel flap control levers are provided. Boot room is excellent thanks to the vertically-mounted spare wheel providing extra depth.
The improvements to the engine show up on the road where the Acclaim is exceptionally quiet inside. Wind and road noise are also very low. Performance is very good with the extra torque of the engine enabling the car to accelerate from standstill to 100km/h in under nine seconds. Another welcome revision on the VS is more progressive throttle response. In previous models even small throttle movements produced an excessive rush of acceleration, which was often not welcome on wet roads. Ride and handling are also good with the independent suspension particularly stable on gravel or bumpy surfaces. Fuel economy is a strong point of the Acclaim. Up to 9.5L/100km is achievable at steady highway speeds, due to careful calibration by the Holden engineers. This is exceptional for a car of this size.
Overall, the VS Acclaim is very good value. The improved engine, coupled with the safety features which are the basis of the model, combine to offer a well equipped package at a very reasonable price. The driveability and finish of the latest offerings from both Holden and Ford are now equal to Japanese standards, which further increases the value.