|The Holden Commodore VFII –
the French Country House Tauranga behind.
It’s the first time I’ve ever driven a car without having to put the keys in the ignition. I know this is technology that’s been around for more than just a little while, but when you normally drive a 1600cc 2001 VW, the novelty of just pressing a button to start the car doesn’t fade in a hurry. And then the sound.
The car fanatics website streetmachine.com.au has described the latest Holdens as having an engine sound so good they “bark and crackle,” and I get it. Pressing the button (by the way, what are you meant to do with the car keys when you drive? Pocket? Glove box? So many options!) and starting up the Holden Commodore VFII and two of my more blokey mates immediately knee-buckled at the sound. An exquisite bark and crackle.
The VFII is the final ever entirely Australian designed, engineered and produced Commodore (the model will continue but with manufacturing overseas) and whether you’re a petrol head or just a fan of very, very nice cars, it was a thing of beauty to drive. The acceleration for this V8 was like nothing I’d driven – reportedly as little as 4.9 seconds for 0-100km/h, not that I was trying. On a travel writing assignment, I was road-tripping around Auckland, Tauranga and Coromandel in New Zealand’s North Island and the difference of doing a big-kilometre jaunt like this in a serious piece of modern engineering was immense.
Keep an eye out for further Roxborogh Report articles about the road trip as well as my full New Zealand Herald feature, including the quite remarkable French Country House in Tauranga where I spent two nights. Originally I tried to find accommodation by the famous beach at Mount Maunganui, but being early January everything was booked out. Dawning on me that I had an incredible car to drive, why not look for somewhere to stay inland a bit?
And that’s how I found one of my absolute favourite lodges in New Zealand. You get a hint of the French Country House in some of these photos of the Holden VFII, but you need to see inside to appreciate its point of difference. Spiral staircases, stand alone bath tubs, ladders to attics, wooden beams from an old bridge, enormous floral displays, medieval-looking chairs – this place was uniquely awesome.
Great service too from Kay and her little doggy Freddie, not to mention the other animals on the property including some very lucky horses who spend their days admiring their multi-million dollar views to The Mount. Or perhaps the view is lost on the horses, but it certainly isn’t lost on the guests – Roxborogh Report photo essay on the French Country House to come.
Enjoy the photos and thanks to Holden for quite comfortably the best car I’ve had the pleasure of driving. I particularly like that little feature where your speed is reflected up onto the lower-right of the windscreen from a small obscured screen on the dashboard. It stops you from looking down at the speedometer and is a subtle and ingenious safety feature. Click here for more from Holden about this car and others in their latest fleet.