No SSnooZing Here; Holden’s SS Z V8 ute.

SS Z profileIt’s big, it’s boofy, it’s as subtle as a flouro pink sledgehammer, it’s Holden’s outgoing VE SS-Z V8 ute. 6.0L of Chevrolet’s alloy donk, mated with a solid six speed manual in what is effectively a two door sports car with a huge cargo space make for a whole lot of thunderous, bellowing fun, farting subterranean roars from its quad exhaust tips. Pumping out 270 kilowatts and a Superman like 530 metres of Mr Newton’s torques, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a prod of the loud pedal would have smoke and fire and brimstone and 5 circles before hooking up. Holden spent a lot, time and money both, to give the ute some grip and stability, with the electronics paying their way during A Wheel Thing’s week, coinciding, as it did, with some utterly atrocious wet SS Z ute interiorweather. With a heavy right foot, the Z ute was composed, with a few chirps of wheelspin, the angry growl from the exhaust and…..that was it. So well sorted is the chassis that it rides flat, firm yet compliant when required, with no crash over speedhumps or potholes and holds on to the road like a three year old to a lollypop in quick directional changes. Having springs, shocks and a a tidy multi link rear suspension all adds up to a competent package.
The Z Series adds the 19 inch charcoal five spoke alloys and leather bolsters to cloth seats as an added bonus to the Commodore range, prior to the VF release. It’s a comfy enough office but the aging architecture of the VE, still usuable, looks and feels tired. The seats are broad and lacking support on the sides, belying their comfort whilst the plastic in the cabin and the basic design, once class leading, also show their age. The dash is clear, legible and easy to read and the entertainment/info system is user friendly. Behind the driver and passenger seats is some cargo space, enough for a couple of bags of shopping or schoolbags. Behind that is over 1200 litres of true blue Aussie ute space, enough for just about anything the ordinary bloke or blokette can lob in there.
SS Z ute engineThe highlight of the VE SS Z Series ute is, undoubtedly, the engine. A flat torque curve allows the driver to fully exploit the six well spaced gears. Naturally, the clutch needs a strong left leg and the notchy and not terribly precise gear lever dislikes being hustled, slotting into place easily when done gently and totally at odds with the brawny persona displayed. The immense torque also allows rapid response at the tip of a toe, although the overdrive sixth needs a bit more time.
It’s also not what you’d call fuel efficient around town; driven with a combination of spirit and conservation, an average of 14L per 100 kilometres showed that with absolute power comes a prodigious thirst.
When released the Z series utes was the cheapest of the SS family; from $42K plus on roads it offers immense fun, if you could live with its drinking habit and inconsistent gearchange. As it was a limited run, it is no longer available as a new purchase, unless a dealer has one lurking in their backlog of stock.

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