By Tim Grey
In a world where first impressions count, branding is king. And in automotive terms things are no different.
If they were, we’d all be driving cars chosen for their engineering prowess, driving capability and mechanical longevity, instead of cars chosen because their manufacturer’s marketing department can read us like a book.
Unfortunately, we are shallow, conservative beasts. Not too surprising really, when you consider the human condition was fashioned over millennia of being chased by big furry predators and being duped in the game of life by our own competitive kind.
Which is why, when it comes to the Holden Epica, the only responsible thing I can do is appeal to our worst nature.
Judge this book by its cover, seriously. Why? Because many people haven’t and they’ve done so to their own detriment, especially if they were seriously looking for a competent, value-packed mid-size sedan.
You see, the Holden Epica was introduced in late 2007 as a replacement for the Vectra. However, it’s really a Daewoo Tosca with a Holden badge on it. Elsewhere you can find it as a Chevrolet Epica and a Chevrolet Tosca, but essentially they are all the same Korean-sourced car Holden’s parent company GM has been providing to this segment in countries all over the world.
Unfortunately, some people have read a little too much into this set of circumstances. If Saabs appeal to doctors, Audis to engineers and Volvos to, well, anyone with a goatee and a penchant for polo necks, then Holdens appeal to the true-blue Australasian bloke who’s willing to opt for the homegrown option. And, not surprisingly, anything Korean doesn’t typically sync with their brand loyalties.
This, of course, is behaviour worthy of the dodo itself. Even more so when you consider the recession-timed discounts Holden are making at the moment and you experience the qualities of the new diesel variant, the Epica CDXI.
Like all Epicas, the CDXI has an understated interior worthy of a Golf (just with extra trimmings like charcoal leather seats), as well as a level of comfort, four-star safety and adeptness in ride quality which could almost make it European. And at the same time it offers the kind of sound insulation and general well-put-together quality that makes it thoroughly un-European.
Its heart is in Munich and its head in Osaka, if you like, regardless of the fact it probably originated somewhere near Seoul.
Under the bonnet the CDXI boasts a new 2.0 litre four-cylinder common rail turbo diesel producing 320Nm of torque at just 2000rpm while still delivering a none-tooshabby consumption figure of 9.3L/100km (there was, tellingly, an AA Energywise Rally map and guide in the glovebox).
As a package, from its telescopic steering wheel back to its generous 480 litre capacity boot, the Holden Epica is an astute choice for the $42,390 list price.
Some people may expect some corners cut because it’s not built in the same plant as a Commodore, but they will find no evidence to back up such a claim within an Epica. Of course, it arguably has better construction precisely because of that fact, but that’s a debate for another day.