Holden launches new 2003 Statesman
2003 WK Holden Statesman
2003 WK Holden Caprice
Statesman's rear end gets new sheet metal
V8 Caprice now Holden's most powerful car
New centre console with optional Sat Nav
Caprice buyers get dual-screen DVD system
While Mitsubishi was busy in the States unveiling the revamped
Magna at the 2003 New York Motor Show, Holden decided to stay
at home to unveil its new WK range.
Beyond the new look, more powerful engines and redesigned
seats of the WK series, the word everyone seems to uttering
at present is 'exports'.
Holden exports a large number of Commodores and Statesmans
to the Middle East, rebadged as Chevrolets.
Thanks in part to a deal to supply GM cousin Pontiac with
18,000 Monaros a year, the reputation of Holden, and indeed
its local rivals in general, has improved dramatically.
One of the reasons the new Magna has been unveiled in the
US - and not Australia - is because Mitsu has high hopes for
the face-lifted model in the American market. Some 13,000
of the built-in-Adelaide Magnas will be exported there in
And while the Statesman is a vital export model for GMH,
it's an even more important domestic vehicle. There's something
about large cars and Australians that go hand in hand, and
the long wheelbased vehicles have always been popular.
Given a serious upgrade that may even raise a few eyebrows
over at BMW, let alone Ford and Mitsubishi, the WK Statesman
and Caprice offer a very peachy first impression.
From the get-go, it's fairly obvious that the new WK series
has a new look, starting with the modified headlights borrowed
from the VY Calais.
The front end has been restyled and gone is curvy grille,
replaced by a more angular and contemporary item. Pronounced
power lines run along the bonnet from windscreen to grille,
and apart from the roof and doors, the new models get all-new
In profile, theres a fresh rear quarter design, with
a flowing C-pillar and new sixth window shape.
The rear end is sharper than the outgoing WH model: An all-new
decklid, bumper and tail lamps in solid red, separated by
a simple chromed décor strip helps emphasise a trend
towards cleaner surfaces.
New 'technical' alloy wheels adorn both models: Statesman
(16-inch) and Caprice (17-inch).
And while the two new models have a fairly similar look,
an individual sporting character has been created for Caprice
and the models now have more differing personalities.
The Caprice has been given some impressive interior features,
and with uprated suspension and a freshly-tuned Gen III V8,
it should please buyers both here and overseas.
Holden managing director, Peter Hanenberger, said the Caprice
and Statesman are currently exported to ten countries, and
their sales success here and abroad reflects the fact that
the hallmarks of quality, refinement and value are universal.
"It also demonstrates our expertise in niche model manufacturing
and our ability to produce customised products that are targeted
to meet specific buyer requirements.
"The level of differentiation now apparent between Caprice
and Statesman is an excellent example of this," he said.
Compared to the Statesman, the Caprice gets bigger 17-inch
alloys and rides lower on firmer suspension in what Holden
says is a bid to attract a younger buyer.
The Caprice also gets low-profile tyres and design cues like
black bezels and chrome highlights on the projector headlamps,
fog and cornering lamps, a sports graphite honeycomb grille
and twin chrome exhaust tips.
Inside, both models get a two-tone instrument panel, silver-ringed
instrument cluster, plus the centre fascia and steering wheel
are entirely new.
All controls and graphics are updated, the layout is simplified
and special features include a sporty binnacle and a central,
high-mounted multi-function infotainment display
with large screen digital readout and user-friendly settings.
New front seats, now with the added safety benefit of active
head restraints, offer more support and cushioned comfort.
The Caprice ships with smooth-seamed leather trim as standard,
while the Statesman comes with plush, high-pile velour with
Emphasising its performance credentials, the new Caprice
is equipped with a high output 245kW version of Holdens
Generation III V8. Furthermore, a dual DVD system with individual
screens for rear seat passengers - complete with headphones
and remote control is a first for any Australian produced
The system is very impressive, and can be hooked up to the
Caprice's 12-speaker sound system, while the DVD player is
located beneath the back seat. The WK Statesman and Caprice
also get rear-parking sensors and for the first time, Holden
is offering a factory-fitted sunroof, albeit at a $2050 premium.
The tuned 5.7-litre V8 with 245kW of power and 465Nm of torque
is now Holden's most powerful vehicle available to customers,
and comes standard with free-flowing, stainless steel twin
Ford's equivalent 'sporty' model will be the the Fairlane
G220, though with only 220kW of power, the Holden looks to
have the performance edge.
The Statesman is offered with three engine choices: 152kW
3.8-litre V6, 171kW supercharged 3.8-litre V6 and 235kW 5.7-litre
V8. The Caprice can be fitted with the aforementioned 245kW
V8 or the 152kW V6.
While exhibiting all the primary ride control attributes
and isolation qualities that won their predecessors a reputation
for solid chassis dynamics and ride comfort, the latest long-wheelbase
Holdens are smoother, quieter and according to Holden types,
more enjoyable to drive.
Contributors include improvements in aerodynamic performance,
body structure, build precision, chassis dynamics, powertrain
and safety performance.
"The advancements we have made with the WK series provide
further evidence that Holden continues to satisfy the diverse
driving needs of Australian and international buyers by listening
to what they have to say and by producing high quality vehicles
which are exciting to drive and which offer exceptional value
for money," Mr Hanenberger concluded.
The WK series will go on sale in May and replaces the WH
Caprice and Statesman, and should give Ford's upcoming Fairlane
a very good run, particularly with the new twin-screen DVD
option, which is likely to attract a new demgraphic of buyers.
It's interesting to see how Holden has delivered the Caprice
and Statesman models, now more different than ever, but both
still highly desirable.
At the end of the day, Holden's plan of attack appears to
be working, despite Ford's much-improved line-up. The new
WK range gets a good two month jump on the Fairlane, which
will undoubtedly make things very hard for the Blue Oval in
the sales department.
The sportier Caprice brings a whole new dimension to the
long wheelbase models too, and will whet the appetite of those
wanting the extra space and prestigious appointments, yet
with a more sporting intent.
Holden's flagship models look very sharp, very sophisticated,
and are set to make a big splash not only in the domestic
market, but also in export markets due to the car's European
styling and more powerful donks.
$53,490 (3.8-litre ECOTEC V6)
$54,490 (3.8-litre Supercharged V6)
$58,240 (235kW 5.7-litre Gen III V8)
$72,990 (245kW 5.7-litre Gen III V8)
$68,250 (3.8-litre ECOTEC V6)
All cars come with electronic control four-speed automatic