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Holden Alloytec 3.6-litre V6

Holden Alloytec 3.6-litre V6
The Alloytec 190 engine for the VZ Commodore

The new 2005 model VZ Holden Commodore is so close you can almost smell it, and the General Motors-owned company has now put the first piece of the puzzle together by releasing the specs for its new V6 engine, which will be offered in two forms - 175kW and 190kW.

The 175kW Alloytec V6 is expected to be packed with entry-level models, such as Executive, while 190kW version is most likely to be used in high-end applications, such as the 6-cylinder Adventra, Statesman and Calais models.

It replaces the 152kW ECOTEC V6 engine that powers the current model (VY) series, and brings with it a host of modern features, including 4-valves per cylinder and double overhead camshafts (per cylinder bank) with continuously variable cam phasing.

The new Alloytec V6-powered Commodores will be the most refined and powerful Holden has yet produced and it will be interesting to see how the Alloytec engines stack up against Ford's powerful straight 6-cylinder powerplant that motivates the BA Falcon.

While the 190kW top spec 'Alloytec 190', as it's called, takes the power war with Ford to a new level, beating the 4.0-litre 182kW FoMoCo engine by 8kW, the Ford still has the edge when it comes to torque, by about 40-odd Newton metres.

At the same token, Holden's engine is smaller, so it will probably be lighter more fuel efficient, and the new VZ Commodore is expected to weigh less than the Falcon, meaning its torque advantage may be nullified in straight line acceleration.

Suffice it to say, the Holden vs Ford battle will be closer than ever before in the 6-cylinder arena. Before we go any further, here's the all-important technical specifications for the new Alloytec engines:

Configuration

3.6-litre 60-degree DOHC V6

Peak Power

190kW @ 6500 rpm (Alloytec 190)
175kW @ 6000 rpm (Alloytec)

Peak Torque

340Nm @ 3200 rpm (Alloytec 190)
320Nm @ 2800 rpm (Alloytec)

Displacement

3564 cc

Bore x Stroke

94mm x 85.6mm

Valvetrain

Dual overhead camshafts
4-valve-per-cylinder
Four-cam continuously variable cam phasing (Alloytec 190)
Two-cam continuously variable cam phasing (Alloytec)

Variable Cam Timing

Intake: 132 degrees ATDC initial timing (Alloytec 190)
Intake: 126 degrees ATDC initial timing (Alloytec)
50 crankshaft degrees advance authority
Exhaust: 111 degrees BTDC initial timing (Alloytec 190)
50 crankshaft degrees retard authority (Alloytec 190)

Compression Ratio

10.2:1

Firing Order

1-2-3-4-5-6

Engine Speed Limit

6700 rpm (Alloytec 190)
6100 rpm (Alloytec)

Block Material

Aluminium (with cast-in-place iron liners)

Cylinder Head Material

Aluminium

Oil Pan

6.5-litre capacity. Structural diecast aluminium, steel windage and baffle plates

Additional features

Pressure-actuated piston-cooling oil jets
Extended-life sparkplugs, coolant, accessory belts
Cartridge-style, top-access oil filter
Oil-level sensor
Teflon crankshaft oil seal
Wide-range oxygen sensors (Alloytec 190)

Though the new Alloytec engine's 320 and 340Nm torque outputs can't match the Ford Falcon's 380Nm @ 3250rpm, they do produce a large amount of torque low in the rev range. The Alloytec 190 engine produces 90 per cent of its peak torque between 1600 rpm to 5900 rpm, while the less feisty 175kW version produces 90 per cent of its torque between 1600 rpm to 5400 rpm.

This impressive midrange punch will endow the new Commodore and it's various cousins with a much-need boost in power, and the 6700rpm rev ceiling of the Alloytec 190 is damned impressive. We can't wait to line up the 182kW Falcon and the 190kW Commodore in a head-to-head road test, to see who's the boss as we head towards the halfway point of the decade.

Holden's Executive Director of Engineering, Tony Hyde, said the introduction of a new 6-cylinder engine to form the hub of the Holden range was a significant step forward which would benefit the company and its customers.

Holden Alloytec 3.6-litre V6
This is what you'll see in the engine bay
of your brand-spanking VZ Commodore

Holden Alloytec 3.6-litre V6
175kW or 190kW? More choice is always good

"The fact that Holden was chosen by GM to produce this engine and included as an integral partner in its development from the outset five years ago shows the confidence GM places in our powertrain expertise here in Australia," Mr Hyde said.

"Our contributions to the Global V6 program have emphasised our engineering and manufacturing flexibility and positioned us to become further involved in future GM powertrain strategies in the Asia Pacific region and increasingly, around the world.

"Closer to home, Alloytec signals the start of a new V6 performance era for Holden. It will certainly help to ensure that Commodore retains its crown as Australia's most popular car for some time to come," Mr Hyde concluded.

Holden says that the two Alloytec engine variants maintain a similar level of fuel economy and produce fewer emissions than the outgoing Buick-sourced 3.8 litre ECOTEC V6.

The new engine will be more responsive and much smoother, while new 5-speed auto (5L40) with 'Active Select' (tiptronic?) and 6-speed manual transmissions will help ensure the VZ Commodore and its brethren put the power to the ground efficiently.

Holden sent a team of powertrain engineers to Strasbourg, where they invested some three years into the design and development work in the 5L40 transmission.

The additional gear allows shift points to be engineered to deliver an improved launch and quicker 0-100km/h times, while at the same time delivering improved fuel economy.

An increased ratio spread, a taller 2.87 final drive ratio and the ability of the transmission to shift at up to 6500rpm will help to ensure that the VZ Commodore is the most athletic model yet.

Holden will keep its ageing 4-speed auto gearbox (albeit slightly upgraded) to be used in entry-level models in order to keep the price competitive.

Electronically controlled and hydraulically actuated, continuously variable cam phasing brings outstanding camshaft operational flexibility, permitting variability of valve timing to maximise performance, fuel economy and emissions control.

For increased efficiency, the Alloytec 190 is equipped with variable cam phasing on exhaust as well as inlet camshafts, which is a GM engine first.

A dual stage variable intake manifold, specified on the Alloytec 190, facilitates greater torque at low to medium engine speeds and increases power at high speed, and no doubt drivers of the new VZ Commodore will revel in the car's new-found power reserves.

A 32-bit ECU (engine control unit) improves performance consistency thanks to the extremely fast and efficient data flow to engine management systems. Holden says that it is one of the most powerful ECU's currently available for automotive use, and controls every aspect of engine operation from individual cylinder-adaptive knock control sensing to the torque-based engine control.

Electronic Throttle Control (ETC) or drive-by-wire is another feature new to the Alloytec engines. By eliminating the mechanical connection between accelerator pedal and engine, ETC allows more precise throttle control.

An intense focus on reducing noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) during development of the Global V6 engine is expected to be reflected in appreciably smoother all-round operating refinement compared with the ECOTEC V6.

As it stands, Holden's Global V6 plant, where the new engines are built, represents GM's largest single investment in Australia in more than 20 years. It is now delivering fully locally produced six-cylinder Holden engines for the first time since 1986, and the huge investment is likely to pay off when drivers get a chance to sample the thoroughly modern engines.

Stay tuned to Web Wombat Motoring for road tests and sneak peaks at the new VZ Commodore. We'll put both quad cam 175 and 190kW 3.6-litre bent six engines to the test, and also see if they're a match for Ford's 182kW straight six engine.

Expect 2005 to be a crucial year for Australian large cars, and be prepared for fireworks as the Ford vs Holden battle intensifies.

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