An opportunity to not only see but test drive the latest Holden SUVs at a ‘secret testing ground’? Naturally, I said yes!
I mean, Holden’s Lang Lang Proving Ground is a very big deal. It’s a high-security, super-elusive destination dreamt of by die-hard motoring fans.
It’s also where Holden can be found testing ‘n tweaking the hottest cars about to hit the market. I couldn’t get there fast enough. And here’s what happened next.
Entering Lang Lang Proving Ground is an experience unlike any other… Tight security prevents ‘prying eyes’ or leaked information about the newest model Holdens. It’s a designated NO CAMERA ZONE, for a very good reason.
Since its opening in the late 1950s, Holden’s test drivers and engineers have clocked up more than 120 million kilometres at the Ground. The facility is concealed in the middle of a National Park and it’s here you’re likely to find Holden testing prototype, pre-production and current production cars.
You can expect to see de-badged vehicles, covered in camo wrap, disguising their lines and design, being put through their paces on the myriad of roads. There’s a banked high-speed circular track (think Daytona!), ride and handling roads, rough tracks, a twist course, a ‘rattle and squeak’ track, skid pad and a pretty hardcore off-road course complete with mud and water crossing.
In short, getting behind the scenes at Lang Lang Proving Ground is a car lover’s #goals!
And I was lucky to be experiencing it! I’d been invited by Holden to test drive their latest SUV range for Mum Central. As the fastest growing automotive market in Australia, Holden have heavily invested in this segment and are keen to show off the exciting results. Of course, as the publisher of a family-focused website I know exactly what mums are looking for in a great family car, and I couldn’t wait to see what Holden had to offer!
So, with fab new Holden SUVs to drive and my adrenalin at an all-time high, here’s my take on five new cars every Mum needs to see!
Get ready for the FAB FIVE from Holden SUV range!
They might be known for their iconic Commodore but with five SUVs in their range, how Australia perceives Holden is about to shift. Some you’ve probably heard of, and others, well let’s just say they’re about to be game changers in the family SUV space, combining comfort, reliability and safety.
From the turbo-charged Trax, to the mid-size Equinox, Calais Tourer Wagon, Trailblazer and finally the talk of the town, 7 Seat Acadia, Holden now have an SUV to suit every family’s needs and wants.
Here’s my round up after driving them all…
1. The small-size SUV that really gets up and goes: TRAX
First up was the TRAX on the skid pan, a course of strategically placed cones with the aim of gunning your way through as quickly as possible. Initially, I took it conservatively and knocked down a few more cones than I would have liked to, however second time round (and a little more confident) I let my instinct take over as the Trax carved her way around the course. The TRAX is a gutsy little car with more grunt than expected and sharp, responsive handling. I totally nailed it – even the engineer sitting next to me was surprised! HA!
2. The wagon that really surprises: TOURER
Next was the TOURER – which hands-down was one of my favourite drives of the day. A spacious Calais wagon, perfect for growing families this car did not disappoint. The thrill of this drive was that the course was made of loose gravel, and boy, the TOURER came into her own.
“Just point the front wheels where you want to go … and trust that the back will follow” our Holden Engineer said.
Sounds easy enough … and to be honest, he couldn’t have been more right. I quickly found my groove and got gutsy with the accelerator to weave her through the course of cones. Now let’s be realistic, this is not day-to-day driving, however, it’s reassuring to know that should we have to swerve or veer quickly, the TOURER has your back. With incredible traction, control and a really comfortable ride on the dirt – I was totally impressed!
Off-road adventure even beginners can handle: TRAILBLAZER
Next up was the TRAILBLAZER with its 3-tonne towing capacity. (Perfect for boats, camper trailers and all sorts of family adventure!) We headed for the custom-made off-road track and to say I was nervous was an understatement. Having rarely ventured off-road, and first to take the course, I was a mixture of anxious anticipation meets curiosity, having no idea what to expect.
“Why don’t you speed up through the water crossing Bel?” I heard our guide say from the back seat. You’ll be fine…” Haha yeah, right!
My hands clenched tighter on the wheel while I unconsciously found myself pushing further back into the seat. #shittingmyself
What followed though was an impressive (and exciting) drive through water that lapped the edge of the bonnet. The TRAILBLAZER made easy work of the water crossing and shortly after the steep incline I opted for the Hill Descent Control which manages the speed of your descent. No need to touch the brakes, it had my back and we coasted down the very steep descent with ease and without building up speed. TRAILBLAZER really did all the thinking for me, moving from two to four wheel drive so quickly and easily … it made light work of my off-road adventures.
The all-round family SUV leaves her mark: EQUINOX
Next up was the 2.0-litre mid-size EQUINOX. Combining guts with turbo power, it’s perfect for growing families.
This drive took us along the hill route, which really put this mid-size SUV through its paces. The EQUINOX really surprised me with its 2.0L engine and easy handling of off-camber turns and quick braking tricks. Essentially this is your great all-rounder that tackles hills, uneven surfaces, bitumen and gravel roads with ease. It was easy to see this safe and practical vehicle was equally powerful for city driving as it was for the open road. The EQUINOX is sure to be a hit with suburban families who enjoy getting away!
Bel’s pick of the day. WOW: The ACADIA
But the car that stole my heart was the 7 Seat ACADIA. Now THIS is family motoring! With seven actual seats, it’s the boss of the road. Offering plenty of room with a three-row configuration, it has so many extras you’ll feel literally spoilt.
The pinnacle of the Holden SUV range, the ACADIA is packed with all the latest advancements and safety features. It’s a clever and intuitive car combining luxury, safety and technology. As a result, the ACADIA driver enjoys more connectivity, more comfort and more convenience than ever before. Sign me UP!
It was an absolute pleasure to drive this dream machine on the banked high-speed circular track. I gradually took her up from 40km on the inside lane to a whopping 180km an hour on the highest lane. Yes, 180 clicks! And I tell you what, she drove beaut-i-fully. Seriously it didn’t feel like you were doing over 100km/h! If you’re a family who loves to drive, loves their creature comforts and values true performance, ACADIA is the car for you.
Good for you, good for all Australians
Next time you’re thinking about an SUV, make sure you put Holden on your must-see list!
After my exciting day trialling five of the latest Holdens, let me urge you that it’s imperative to check out their offerings for yourself! What really sold me was the solid drive, great handling and how Holden adapt their cars to meet Australian road standards (unlike so many other players in the car market.)
With most cars now built in the US, and designed for different roads and conditions, it’s really a no-brainer that Holden is so committed to ensuring their cars suit the harsh Aussie driving experience. That’s how you can be sure you’re getting the very best car for where (and how!) you live!
Holden has truly positioned themselves to be long-term forced in the SUV space. Be sure to test drive their latest offerings for yourself when you’re thinking of a new family car, I can’t recommend them enough!
I attended the Holden’s Drive Day as a guest of Holden with the view of sharing my experiences with our readers. All opinions are my own.