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by Ryan Broadfoot

Cheap, bland, unreliable and slow are some of the things that spring to mind when I hear the words ‘Korean Cars.' These cars have always had the unfortunate reputation of being inexpensive knock-offs of their prestige German rivals. So you can only imagine my excitement when I learned that behind the Epica's shiny Holden badge lurked a Daewoo Tosca.

At first glance the Epica seems to be business as usual. The steering wheel is situated too close to the driver; the rear window is so high it might as well be a sunroof, you cannot see the clock if the sun is shining and every time you attempt to select Drive, you get second gear instead. It also beeps at you for all the wrong reasons and doesn't beep at all when it should, like when you leave the headlights on.

p>But despite these minor imperfections the Holden Epica is actually a very good car. When compared to its rivals, the Hyundai Sonata and the Kia Magentis. The Epica is a handsome brute. It sports the wraparound projectorstyle headlamps, large shiny grill and silver finishing strips all over for that elegant touch. The interior is neatly laid out with easy access to all the controls and everything is where you'd expect it to be. The steering wheel has full multi-functional controls for the audio system and the cruise control. The quality and finishes of all the peripherals inside the Epica are what you'd expect from a luxury car.

And once you're moving, things just seem to get better. Although it's not very fast, 0 -100km/h takes just under 11 seconds, it is a fantastic car to drive. The engine is a 2.5 litre, 24 valve DOHC, inline 6-cylinder that is transversely mounted to the 5 speed automatic gearbox. The max power output is 115kW @ 5800rpm and max torque of 237Nm @ 4600rpm. The engine was designed by Porsche and as a result delivers silky smooth acceleration no matter what speed or gear you're in. The Epica manages to attain impressive cruising speeds with very little effort and makes for a very civilised drive. The most impressive thing about the Epica is the distinct lack of road or wind noise. Even at highway speeds the cabin is whisper quiet. Driving the Epica long-distance is so pleasant and so relaxing that you soon forget all about the stupid clock and all the birds in the rear window.

The ride comfort has to be the best part of the package. Even at speed on the most unforgiving surfaces, the Epica soaks up the bumps with absolutely no drama whatsoever. The handling is almost boat-like when driving around town. Although there is a fair amount of body-roll, the car corners very well.

The ride and handling is mainly thanks to the highmounted multi-link rear suspension and Macpherson struts upfront. The steering is light and ultra precise and the compromise between handling and ride comfort is perfect. Braking is achieved through vented discs in the front and solid discs at the back. ABS, Traction Control and ESP are standard on all Epica models. The CDX is available with a 5-speed manual transmission but only with the snail-like 2.0 litre engine.

The Epica has not cut any corners when it comes to safety either. It has driver and passenger front and side airbags (optional curtain airbags), advanced crumple zones and EBD and ABS for greater stopping ability. Even the heightadjustable seatbelts are intelligent. In an impact, explosive charges are fired to tighten up the belt at the moment of impact and then load limiters incrementally unspool to minimize seatbelt injury to the occupants.

Standard features on the Epica include 16” Alloys; front and side airbags for both driver and front passenger; air conditioning; 6 speaker audio system with MP3 player; automatic headlamps; automatic windows; automatic mirrors; TCS; ABS; ESP; Cruise Control and the list keeps going. Couple all this into a cavernous 480 litre boot, loads of rear legroom, headroom and storage room and you have a pretty complete package for a mid-size family saloon.

It's easy to forget that this car is Korean with quality and appeal like this, until you examine its price tag. At $27 990 this car is a bargain. Forget the A6, the 5 Series and the E-Class; the Epica gives you 80 percent of the excitement for 30 percent of the price. Now the only thing I can't work out is why Holden says it sells more Commodores in a good month than they have sold Epicas since its inception last year. Daewoo says that ‘Tosca' is an acronym for ‘Tomorrow's Standard Car'. You know what, they're right.
Holden Epica CDX


6 cyl - inline

Fuel Supply

multipoint direct injection


77 / 89.2 mm

Cubic Capacity

2492 cc

Compression Ratio

9.8 to 1

Valve Gear

d-o-h-c, 4 valves per cyl


Max Power ISO (kW)


Power Peak (r/min)


Red Line (r/min)


Max Torque (N.m)


Torque Peak (r/min)



Forward Speeds


Low gear

4.575 to 1

2nd gear

2.979 to 1

3rd gear

1.947 to 1

4th gear

1.318 to 1

Top gear

1.000 to 1


Road wheels

16” x 6”

Tyre size

205/60 R16



278mm ventilated discs


276 solid discs





Rack and pinion. power assisted

Turning circle




Independant MacPherson Strut, coil springs, stabiliser bar


Independant multi-link, coil springs, stabiliser bar


Length (mm)


Width (mm)


Height (mm)


Wheel Base (mm)





Fuel Tank

63 litres




3 year 100,000km warranty

Service every 15,000km

Posted in feature |
Posted by Ryan Broadfoot
14 Aug 2008

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I own this car,i feel the journo got this review rather spot on. When i first got in one i expected it to be bad because of all the bad press it had been given. I borrowed a friends Epica one day while my car was in getting a service. I was actually very impressed with the car, the seats where very comfortable, low amount of wind noise in the cabin, smooth gearbox at any speed, a good ride. Speakers were good. Steering is similar to a Ford AU Falcon rather light, hence when you get into the twisty roads it does require a bit more work. The main issue is the lack power while overtaking, the diesel Epica has a lot more torque than my petrol powered Epica. The FG Falcon and VE Commodore are in fact better cars than the Epica. (I have actually owned the falcon and the commodore was a work car i drove alot) They're better made, better steering, a lot more power. The Epica however is better on fuel, easier to park, in my opinion overall more comfortable, more practical (the boot is almost as big as the VE Commodore but the Commodores, seats don't fold down. The Epicas does. This car it's an all rounder, it doesn't do one thing perfectly but it does enough things well to compensate for it. A great bargain on the second hand market too.
Rating: 4 / 5
by Chad on 18 Jun 2014

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