I heard this car was being retired from the press fleet with almost 13,000 k’s on the clock. It would have been remiss of me not to take her around the block for one final victory lap. I should declare now that the SSV Redline is my personal favourite Australian car
With this many k’s and this much time under her belt, I wondered what had befallen her and what she would be like to drive now. Rather unfairly, I had been in a CRZ Honda the previous week with it’s sharp steering and sports-car like handling.
The SSV showed no signs of wear. The bodywork was pristine and the interior looked as it did 8 months ago. The engine was as silky and powerful and the auto as smooth as if they had just come off the showroom floor. Having been in Euro cars for much of the year, a few things seemed apparent in my favourite Holden. Not the least mong these is the redback-spider interior. The colours look great but the panel fit isn’t what you expect from a $62,000 car. It’s come time for Holden to up the quality of the inside to match the look of the outside. Look at the gaps where the interior panels meet each other such as the glove box and console as an example.
Also missing are fully electrically adjusted seats, auto rear-view mirror, folding side mirrors, radar cruise control, keyless entry/start and other little touches found in cheaper cars. And something I hadn’t noticed before was the red Brembo brakes are on the front wheels only. Of course the front wheels do all the steering and most of the braking, but I say again, it’s a car that costs $62,000. If you’ve never had these things then you won’t miss them but what is missing and can easily be fixed is the boot lining. There isn’t any, and when you shut the boot your either have to pull it down by gripping a filthy outside surface or by wrapping your fingers around a piece of bare metal inside the boot lid. It’s a $25 piece of trim and would finish the cargo space off with so little effort and expense. One touch that Commodore has had from day one is the boot release being a button inside the glove box. This means you can lock your good and chattels during a service. The service key doesn’t have the buttons to lock and unlock. Don’t fool yourself though as it only keeps honest folk out.
It all sounds a bit doom-and-gloom-esque but that’s the end of the bad, the rest is good which start with the drive. Nothing, I repeat nothing, will excite you like a V8. While researching this story I came across a few interesting facts. the gen IV 6.0L V8 puts out 260 or 270 KW depending on the transmission whereas the HSV (Holden Special Vehicles) VS Clubsport had a 5.0L V8 with 185KW, 5KW less than the current 3.0L V6. It seems inconceivable that a small V6 has the same power as a 20 year old Holden Muscle car. How far we have come.
185KW HSV Clubsport 5.0L V8
The hydraulic steering gives decent road feel and the ride is soft for a hard edged muscle car. This means it’s pleasant to use in the city which is where most Australians will be using their cars. Because of the massive power and huge torque, the full size sedan feels light and nippy which is no mean feat. The highway is effortless but even then the SSV never realises its full potential because unleashing that gorgeous engine would see your license cancelled before you could say “I didn’t do it”.
Considering the hiding the SSV would have copped at the hands of petrol-head motoring writers it has held up well. It speaks highly the build quality. Because GM is globalising its brand offerings we may not see an Aussie developed Commodore for much longer so enjoy it while you can. Its handsome, muscular, butch exterior has aged well considering its near the end of its life.
As I said at the top, the SSV remains my favourite muscle car with the Redline being the one I’d chose every time.
If you’re the kind of boy who likes to play with 6 steroid-infused litres of slightly mad American muscle technology, than this is the car for you. Holden very sensibly made almost no changes to the superb SSV for 2012. We have a couple of bits of chrome for those who like a little extra bling and a set of shiny shiny wheels that can be seen from space. By god it makes the Commodore look sexy as hell, as if it could look any better.
You would never know the Commodore is more than half way through it’s life cycle. The series 2 freshen up gave the 2011 model a new lease on life bringing with it the magnificent Holden IQ, still the best in the business bar none. It’s still the easiest infotainment system to use and program. The only bluetooth unit doesn’t require big hugs every time you want to make a phone call. You hit the single phone button on the steering wheel twice and speak to dial using your iPhone voice prompt. You don’t have to waste time downloading your contact list and you don’t have to individually enter numbers into the car every time you make a call. There is barely a car on the market that allows you to pair your phone easily, then start using the contact list via voice dial without having to dance a jig naked on the bonnet while holding your mouth slightly sideways. Even the other Holdens can’t match the ease of use of IQ.
It’s strange then that there are still functions such as entry/exit lights, doors, security and dash LCDs that need to be setup using the central LCD and steering column stalk. This can only be done while the car is not moving so don’t try it at the lights, there isn’t enough time. There are alarms that warn you of cameras and school zones which as I’ve mentioned before will drive you demented within 3 seconds of entering any given CBD. The most annoying noise in the world sounds for safety cameras, speed cameras, school zones, bus lane cameras and apparently whenever it damn-well feels like it. I promise you, you’ll have this switched off quick as a flash. For the record the control is part of the GPS function so don’t try trawling through the Config menu or you’ll be sorely disappointed.
I’ve mentioned before that although the thumping 260KW V8 has a ton of oomph, and loves being given a bit of wellie, you would think from 6 litres the General might have coaxed a few more ponies for your money. Considering the 3.0L turbo Volvo gets 241 KW and uses vastly less petrol, I’d hope for north of 330KW surely. But I digress; I wouldn’t want you to think for one minute that the driving experience of the SSV wasn’t a joyful, near sexual experience. It’s is magnificent. Remember it’s a big ol’ chunk of car that loves being chucked into corners one way, then another, and the only complaint is a hint of tyre scrub. Unlike the manual ute we had a few months back, the sound from up front is demure and subdued and up-market Euro-limo-like. We boys like a little noise don’t we? We like a butch cacophony that turns heads and let’s people know we can afford to mash out stilettos to the floor even with a whole pen of ponies lashed to the bonnet. We want them to know of our guilty pleasure in having an engine that sucks down enough juice in an hour to supply a small African nation for a year. More noise please Mr Holden!
The enormous amounts of torque get you off the mark fast and the power keeps you going and propels you towards orgasmic petrol-fuelled ecstasy but it’s the corners that make you feel utterly invincible. Using the same test track allows a side by side comparison. The tasty sporty jobs like our fabulous SSV can spread their wings after tootling about driving Miss Daisy-style round town for the rest of the week. It is in these corners that the rather firm suspension gives such a huge car the nimbleness of a small sporty hatch. That’s not to say the old girl doesn’t feel like a big car to drive, after all you can’t hide a massive hunk of steel behind good shockers, comfy springs and a huge engine. The Redline SS also gets those fabulous Brembo brakes. Not only do they stop you with a ruthlessness not felt since the Howard government, but the callipers are bright red and shine through the glinting 19inch wheels like a rat with a gold tooth.
The SSV Redline is a stunning car with sunning performance (getting you 0-100 in under 6 seconds) and claimed fuel figures of 12.3 l/100k combined. Whilst it’s true that V8 will cut off 4 cylinders when they are not needed, and on the highway the fuel usage drops pleasingly, around town, especially if only used on very short trips, you’ll find yourself with figures of around 25l/100k. It improves dramatically for if the trips are over 2 k’s per leg but if you’re starting her just to drive her a kilometre to the local shops, you’re in for a shock. Of course all Commodores can use 85% ethanol if you can find it so the news isn’t all bad for the planet.
The 2 tone interior of the test car was Black Widow inspired with the intense black punctuated by liberal splashes of fire engine red with matching red stitching. It’s absolutely stunning.
Finally, the audio on all of the Commodores, including Calais, could use an upgrade. The quality of the sound just isn’t up to snuff. We got out of an Accord Euro from Honda and the difference was rather noticeable. And when you order your SSV, or any other commodore apart from Calais, go to the spare parts bin and order an interior lining for the boot lid or you’ll cut your fingers to bits.
It’s a small hitch in an otherwise brilliant car which I would be very happy to drive all day and night.
260/270kW,#* 6.0 litre Generation IV Alloy V8 engine
6.0L 90-degree OHV V8. Cross flow
cylinder heads. Twin knock control
sensors. On-board diagnostics.
Active Fuel Management (AFM)†
Power (ECE, kW)# 260kW @ 5,700rpm – Auto, 270kW @ 5,700rpm – Man
Torque (ECE, Nm)# 517Nm @ 4,400rpm – Auto, 530Nm @ 4,400rpm – Man
Electronic Stability Control
Incorporating: Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD),
Electronic Brake Assist (EBA), Traction Control System (TCS)
SSV range starts from $47,490
*Holden Media Release
The Holden iQ multimedia system has been updated for compatibility with the latest smartphones and offers improved Bluetooth functionality.
The advanced handling dynamics of Holden’s popular SS V Redline Edition are even more appealing with Holden’s track-inspired FE3 super sports suspension set-up now standard across all three body styles – sedan, Sportwagon and Ute.
Positioned at the top of Holden’s sports performance range, the SS V-Series Redline Edition also gains new-look forged and polished 19-inch alloy wheels, to complement the Brembo 4-piston front callipers, which are now painted in Holden red.
Holden’s has increased sports luxury in V-Series badge models, with the launch of five stand-out Redline Editions in 2010.
The Redline Edition Calais V-Series and SS V-Series sedan, Sportwagon and Ute will take up top positions in Holden’s updated VE Series II range.
The models offer high-level braking and sports handling capabilities to match their powerful 6.0-litre V8 credentials.
Advanced chassis dynamics come courtesy of specialist Holden engineers, who developed a track-inspired FE3 super sports suspension set-up for Redline Edition sedan models to complement the extra stopping power of four-piston Brembo high performance front brakes.
The V-Series Redline Edition range is further distinguished by exclusive forged and polished 19-inch alloy wheels, matched to low profile tyres.
Holden also raises the bar with the inclusion of full colour mapping satellite navigation
and a rear camera (not available on Ute) as standard equipment in V-Series models, which feature the new multimedia touch screen Holden-iQ system and smart interior treatments.
All V-Series Redline Editions are compatible with bio-ethanol, also known as E85, an emission-reducing ‘fuel of the future’ that already powers V8 Supercars.
Redline Edition features include:
Brembo high-performance brakes
Front brakes feature four-piston, two-piece aluminium front callipers and 355mm rotors, pillar-vented for improved cooling and durability.
Forged alloy wheels
High-strength ten-spoke 19-inch forged alloy wheels are exclusive to V-Series Redline Editions. Ultra high-performance low profile tyres provide outstanding grip and handling in wet and dry conditions.
FE3 Super Sports Performance Suspension
A true driver’s car set-up. High-performance tuned dampers and stiffer stabiliser bars provide excellent road connection and control. (SS-V Series Redline Edition sedan and Calais V-Series Redline Edition sedan.)
Chrome window surround
A tyre inflator kit is mandatory fitment on the SS-V Series Redline Ute.
Other performance models within the range include the sporty SV6 and iconic V8-powered SS and SS-V.
Commodore SV6 and SS feature:
- Exclusive sports front fascia, set apart by a new, larger grille
- Bolder, more muscular look accentuated by aggressive lower air intake
- Revised headlamp shape with new black bezel detail
- Integrated aero decklid lip detailing complements sports rear spoiler
- New 18-inch twin five-spoke machined alloy wheels
- New SS-style sports front seats for SV6 with deep bolsters and body-hugging contours
- High-mounted circular interior air vents.
- New sports centre stack with 6.5-inch full colour touch screen
- New sports IP decorative appliqué
- New ‘white on Razor Grey’ instrument cluster illumination for improved readability on SV6
- New ‘white on red’ instrument cluster illumination for improved readability on SS
- Gloss black instrument cluster surround
- Razor grey finish ‘wrap-around’ linear treatment on lower IP. Extends from IP into the door handle surround and through the console
Taking performance to the next level, Commodore SS V-Series builds on the SV6 and SS features adding:
- Revised shape projector headlamps feature new black and bright bezel (same as Calais)
- New twin five-spoke 19-inch machined alloy wheels
- Red finish ‘wrap-around’ linear treatment on lower IP. Extends from the IP into door handle surround and through the console.