It’s a quirk of automotive manufacturing that makers leave their best ’til last. Ford recently unveiled their Sprint Falcons, in both turbo six and supercharged V8 guise. In late 2015, Holden released the series 2 update for the VF Commodore range. Not unexpected was the lack of any real change, with minor bodywork and some under the skin electrical modifications.
In the case of the SS-V Redline, the American sourced LS3 6.3L V8 was massaged slightly, with power bumped to 304 kilowatts at 6000 revs, while peak torque of 570 Newton metres arrives at 4400 rpm. Make no mistake, there’s plenty of urge below that number.Fuel consumption finished on 12.1L litres per 100 kilometres, with a solid combination of rural, suburban and highway driving undertaken. Driven gently and with no inclination to bury the welly (to hear that glorious V8 soundtrack), sub 12 litre figures were achieved. The bi-modal exhaust isn’t exceptionally tricky either; a light foot on the go pedal has the car gently burbling around, with a hint of what lurks underneath. Hit it hard, and the valves in the rear open up, emitting a thunder almost as if Thor’s hammer had come alive and spotted some evil it wished to vanquish. It’s deep, sonorous, gutteral and thoroughly bloody intoxicating in tunnels.
Inside, the SS-V remains unchanged, mostly, with the most notable change for trainspotters being slightly amended dash dials. There’s the charcoal coloured seats, complete with pointless fabric inserts down the centre, the same fabric covered slab of a dashboard, balanced by the off white colour of the pillars and sunroof fitted ceiling.
There’s the Holden MyLink navitainment system with Pandora and Stitcher apps, a Bose sound system with pretty decent quality (some high end audio makers just don’t sound right in some cars) and a sub menu to adjust settings, including the exhaust baffles for the bi-modal exhaust, allowing Aunty Mavis to tiptoe around town or utter a feral roar when the right slipper goes down.It’s underneath where the changes you feel but can’t see have been made. The car was fitted with 19 inch black painted alloys, with different width Bridgestone tyres front (235/40) to rear (275/35). Yes, that’s monstrous grip, but those tyres would come to naught unless the suspension worked hand in hand with them.The ride quality is superb. Low profile tyres on big wheels on an Aussie car normally spell three nights prone on a hospital bed with a sore back, however you’d be well and truly forgiven you were piloting a luxury German speed wagon.
Small bumps are flattened, larger ones smoothed, ripples and undulating roads are communicated to you with an air of indifference, as if the car has sniffed and said “I suppose I should tell you…”.
The steering ratio allows for fingertip precision and the power assistance allows for fingertip guidance, such is the balance and feedback.
The size of the car certainly helps in the spread of weight across track and wheelbase (1593/1590 mm front/rear and 2915 mm) with the fluidity and stableness of the chassis making it an absolute delight and simple enough to drive around town for anyone with a license. Yep, even Aunty Mavis could drive it.It’s helped by that silky smooth torque delivery, delivered to the ground via a paddle shift equipped six speed auto. It’s a shame that the SS-V won’t see anything like a seven or eight speed auto before local manufacturing wraps up in late 2017. Under light throttle it slips through the ratios gently and without fuss, barely noticeable in all truth. Harder going simply changes the speed at which the next ratio is seen, with the same smoothness in change, accompanied by the flick ofthe tacho needle.There’s more safety equipment than before, so Aunty Mavis can be told of oncoming traffic from behind, with blind spot monitoring. Should her attention (and car) wander, Lane Departure Warning will bring her back to the straight and narrow, and if it’s raining there’s Remote Engine Start to get things warmed up inside. She can reverse safely thanks to the standard camera, or leave it all up to the car due to the auto parking system on board.
Parking sensors front and rear will let her know if the wall is too close and if she’s of the mind to look straight ahead, the HUD (head up display) will tell her what speed she’s doing, how many revs and even how much G-Force she’s getting through the long sweeping turns or tight corners the SS-V will do without so much as a blink.Traction Control and Stability Control programs are standard, just in case Aunty Mavis wants to get a bit frisky and see if she can match the sub five second time to 100 kmh that Holden quote for the 1800+ kilo machine.
If she’s nervous about her speed, the Brembo brakes (four piston callipers front and rear)will haul her and the SS-V down to manageable speeds safely, smoothly, and efficiently time and again, with the brake pedal telling her she’s got bite and plenty of it as soon as she lays the slipper on it.For the fashion conscious, Holden have fitted working bonnet vents into the aluminum bonnet; which although lightweight, did flap around somewhat on certain road surfaces. There’s a decent sized rear wing, at just the right height to block out, in the rear vision mirror, any following cars ergo plates and indicators. The VF2 update gave the car reprofiled bumpers front and rear as well.At just over 60K for the manual, with an extra 2K for the slushbox, people will question that ask for “just a Commodore”, yet the SS-V really is a greater car than the sum of its parts. It’s a big car, yes, (4964 mm in length, 1898 mm wide and stands 1474 mm tall) and offers rear seat passengers 1009 mm of legroom, plus a cargo volume of 495 litres. Weight is over 1800 kilograms, making the ride quality even more amazing to consider.Bearing in mind the donor car, built and engineered to deal with a wide variety of Australian road conditions, from flat tarmac to ripped up surfaces, from gravel to turf, the end result has provided possibly the best hi-po Holden badged car Australia has seen. It’s quick, it’s comfortable, it’s poised, it has a brutal personality when pushed yet is as dainty around town as Aunty Mavis needs it to be.
At The End of The Drive.
It’ll sip like a baby from a cup or drink like a sailor on their first night of shore leave but it’s never anything less than a truly brilliant car to drive and a startlingly sad reminder of what Australian car manufacturers could deliver. The Holden Commodore SS-V Redline is a true Australian muscle car.
Factor in a nine month/15000 kilometre service cycle and capped price servicing and there’s numbers Aunty Mavis can live with.
Head to Holden SS range 2016 for details and download a brochure.