The Holden Epica – what were they thinking?

In the latest round of badge engineering Holden have decided to market a re-badged Daewoo Tosca as their entry in the mid-size category, competing with cars like the Toyota Camry and the Mazda 6.


After the success of the all new billion dollar VE Commodore, you’ve got to wonder if Holden hasn’t shot themselves in the foot with the Epica.

This is the fourth Daewoo sourced vehicle for Holden. The Barina, Viva and Captiva are all products of the South-Korean factory and given the public’s seemingly strong dislike for previous models in the Daewoo range, I wonder if that stigma will follow the Epica. There is no doubt that the build quality across the Daewoo range has increased ten-fold in the last few years but it could be a case of too little, too late.

Speaking from a mechanics point of view, nothing that came out of the Daewoo factory before 2005 looked like it would stand the test of time. I am not qualified to offer an opinion on post-2005 cars as I haven’t picked up a spanner in two years due to a back injury and shut-up shop in early 2006. Some of the common problems that we saw were timing belt failure due to a plastic tensioner pulley, twice in 30,000km on one vehicle and Holden refused a warranty claim as the car was older than three years but had travelled only 68,000km when the second belt failed. On both occasions the repairs were done at a Holden dealership yet they wouldn’t honour their repair guarantee. Admitting a design fault was out of the question I guess!

Horribly soft brake rotors was another issue we encountered. It was not unusual for the rotors to need machining at every service due to being out of round causing pedal and steering wheel vibrations. Holden’s answer to this one – the car must have been driven through water when the discs were hot. More than likely this was the case, so what are you supposed to do? Not drive the car if there is any water on the road?! Disc rotors are not made as well as they used to be, but this is just ridiculous!

I could go on for ages about the common problems found with these vehicles, however that is not the point of this post. As I stated the vehicles that I have worked on were pre-05 and I hope for potential Epica buyers that the engineering behind these cars has improved. I think only time will tell, once a few km’s have been racked up we should be hearing if they are a success or not. If previous models are anything to go by I don’t hold out much hope for buyers of the Epica though.

Pricing of the Epica may be the thing that gets them out of the showroom doors – $26,000 for the base model and a top of the range CDXi can be had for around the same money as a base model Camry. For more information on pricing and specifications see here.

Time will be the deciding factor on the success of the Epica. It will be interesting to see if the public will take to it or if the stigma of the previous Daewoo models is still strong enough to scare buyers away from it. I will keep you posted!

51 Responses to “The Holden Epica – what were they thinking?”
  1. Alan M says:

    Backing up an early comment re epica and changing gears below
    2/ Changing gear to reverse or into Drive the Epica will not change and stays in neutral….move the leaver forward or back incramentally and Auto kicks in with a whooping big THUMP ! Then the Auto will not change gear so i drive home in 1st gear. NOW THIS SOUNDS STUPID” This is a known EPICA problem as they give instruction in book of instructions (now get this) to take of small plastic cap and insert a key or screw driver in that slot that is just infront of gear lever to cure problem and then call Holden agent ASAP.

    My sons 2010 epica has deteriorated to now the transmission control system with quoted cost including labour of $6000 as a result of what mechanics say oh thats a common problem with epicas . As a result write off for scrap only cost option

    if its such a common problem why are holden doing nothing about it.
    Sell the cars but take no responsibility once warranty runs out.

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