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About the VR Commodore
In July 1993, the VR Commodore was introduced. Wagons, utilities and sedans were released at the same time. The Statesman and Caprice versions were released in March 1994. Safety was a high priority with a driver’s airbag (a first for any Australian manufacturer), ABS and IRS fitted to most models. The airbag system, developed in Australia by Holden.
Exteriors features included all-new sheetmetal forward of the firewall, slimmer profile headlights and new grille integrated with the front bumper fascia. While the wagon and utility models rear styling remained the same as the previous VP model, the Commodore sedans received new rear quarter panels, tail -lights and boot lid.
The centre console was carried over from VP. A re-designed steering column, fully adjustable for height and reach was fitted to all cars, except those optioned with column shift. Two new additions were added to the line up, the Acclaim sedan and wagon. Acclaim models included all the new safety gear and were built for the safety conscious buyer. They were sold only in V6 automatic form with driver’s airbag, ABS, cruise control and IRS (sedans only) as standard equipment.
The Berlina equipment level was upgraded to include alloy wheels. Commodore S and SS had distinctive front air dams, side skirts, red grille accents and red rubbing strips. S models gained a small boot spoiler and 15 x 6 alloy wheels. SS received a larger boot spoiler and 15 x 7 alloy wheels.
Mechanically, the VR was fitted with a new wide track front suspension. Still utilising a strut design, the new set-up featured forged steel lower control arms and the track was increased 40mm. This gave the VR a much improved road feel, with better turn-in on corners. The new front end was Commodore’s first basic front suspension re-work since its inception in 1978. Front brakes were also upgraded, with larger diameter removable disc rotors fitted to all variants (except HSV). New sealed for- life front wheel bearing and hub units reduced servicing costs.
The VR series featured the new electronic 4-speed 4L60-E automatic. This transmission was essentially the reliable VN/VP Turbo Hydra-Matic 4L60 (700 -R4), with a solenoid controlled valve body that was added for smoother shifts and improved efficiency. The 4L60-E featured a power/economy mode selector switch.
One single ECU (Electronic Control Unit) now managed engine and transmission for vehicles with the new automatic. In GM speak, the new ECU was re-named PCM (Powertrain Control Module), a larger unit with more internal memory than the old
ECM. Manual cars retained the smaller ECM. V6 and V8 engines received minor internal improvements and fine tuning, resulting in smoother running and improved fuel economy.
For the first time, the HSV was availability with a 5.7-litre stroker version of the familiar Holden 5.0-litre EFI V8. Developed in collaboration with Harrop engineering, the new unit produced 215kW. It was first fitted to HSV GTS, with the new Borg-Warner T56 6-speed manual or re-calibrated 4L60-E automatic transmission.