It’s been said the Holden VF SS-V Redline ute is a two door sports car with a 2000 litre boot. That’s the easy part. The not so hard part is explaining why: Alloy Block 6.0L V8. User friendly six speed manual and clutch. 270kW/530Nm. A not terribly heavy body. Some nifty technology not normally seen in such a vehicle. A sub $50k price. A hell of a lot of fun to drive.
The VF Commodore has reignited interest in the large car segment; combined with continuing uncertainty about Australian automotive manufacturing, it’s going some way to help extend Holden’s Australian based manufacturing life. Although externally it’s a little more than a nip and tuck, taking on a well proven, American supplied, electronics system has allowed features such as a Heads Up Display (HUD), radar sensing parking and collision mitigation, a more integrated audio and navitainment system to add to a freshened up interior. (http://www.holden.com.au/cars/ute/range/ss-v-redline#features)
To answer the question “whatzitgoloike”; it goes like stink. It starts with a slick shifting six speed manual gear linkage hooking up to a surprisingly light clutch pedal. You expect a left leg workout when it comes to hi-po V8s but no, not this one. The pickup point is low, allowing a seamless transition from nothing to engaged gear plus a smooth change…for the most part. The second to third change sometimes baulked on a hustled movement, needing a quick response to accelerator and a re-engagement of the lever. The quad tipped exhaust roars and bellows, tacho swings around to past 5000 rpm as second is snatched from first, tyres scrabbling from traction (yes, there is traction control but it’s a friendly, not overly intrusive one) as the nose wavers left and right, a growling, angry farting noise emanating from under the bonnet. That’s what happenes when the SS-V Redline is provoked. When needing to be gentle, it’s docile, quiet and the proverbial grandma’s car, with a subtle burble from the exhaust, with a smooth, initially compliant ride while the steering is direct, a touch numb on centre before loading up to the left and right, providing a tactile experience that increases with speed. It’s not an unpleasant place to be on the inside either, with leather, cloth, the wonderfully sensible ergonomics and a pumping audio system plus the embedded technology and applications on the eight inch touchscreen. The driver gets a red tinged dash, a faux carbon fibre trim, the HUD giving speed, G force, revs and more whilst also getting blind spot warnings in the mirrors, lane departure alarm and a sense of occasion overall.
A Wheel Thing’s test car came in “Perfect Blue”, contrasting with the chromed 19 inch alloys and blackout trim at the front. The rear of the ute, like the wagon, remains unchanged and there’s a soft cover, rather than the hard plastic, to keep weight down. LED running lights frame driving lights whilst the headlight cluster lacks the blackout treatment usually associated with the sports vehicles. I’m still not convinced the bulbous light cluster redesign works in regards to the overall looks, but….
The suspension in the SS-V Redline is simply wonderful for the type of vehicle it is; 275/35 and 245/40 tyres rear and front, on 19 inch diameter wheels, give superglue grip yet don’t compromise in ride quality. Along with the revamped springs, dampers and bushes that isolate all but the harshest of bumps, it gives an almost tactile response keeping the driver in communication with the road. Turn in is even and progressive, with a reasonable steering rack ratio.
To call the SS-V Redline a ute is almost unfair as it’s much more a capable vehicle than the humble moniker “utility” implies. It’s a two door sports car that just happens to have an exceptionally large boot…