TOUGH times require belt tightening.
There are serious decisions to be made in many households. No more King Island double brie in the shopping basket, it’s cleanskins instead of wine from Margaret River and the Christmas family holiday will be two nights camping at Rainbow Beach in a borrowed tent.
Just at the right time to catch the eye of those looking for a bargain, along comes Holden’s new diesel Epica.
The Korean-built mid-sized sedan costs a shade over $30,000 and comes with a highly-efficient 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine that sips only 7.6 litres of diesel for every 100km covered.
Further boosting its low-cost credentials is the fact service intervals have been extended to 15,000km, or 12 months, after the first free 3000km check-up.
The engine, sourced from Daewoo, is the same heart found in the heavier Holden Captiva SUV. It produces 110kW of power at 4000rpm and a beefy 320Nm of torque from 2000rpm and is mated to a smooth 6-speed automatic transmission, which is a rarity in cars with this pricetag.
Aside from a slight lag when you first plant your right foot, the Epica moves off the mark respectably and, once up and running, is a capable performer. When pushed along, the diesel is a little raucous by modern standards.
The Epica sits comfortably and frugally on the highway speed limit, making it a dream for commuters.
The sedan does most things with the minimum of fuss, but does have an overall budget feel about it.
One the main gripes would be that the steering is a little vague, offering minimal feedback to the driver.
There’s plenty to like though, including the Holden’s long list of standard features. There are six airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control, air-conditioning, cruise control, power windows, a quality sound system and remote central locking.
Inside the roomy cabin there is space for five adults plus an array of convenient features such as a reach-adjustable steering wheel, two cup holders up front and two in the rear seat armrest, sunglasses holder, shopping hook, 12-volt plug in the centre console for laptop or DVD player and 60-40 rear split-fold seat.
Three child restraint anchors are provided and the boot has a large 480-litre capacity.
Epica diesel, like its petrol sibling, benefits from fresh styling. It gets a new front grille, rear fascia, new alloys and a bigger Holden Lion on the front.
The package is a compelling one in the current economic climate and many families will be looking closely at Epica diesel thanks chiefly to its price, economy, generous features, safety and style.