For this argument, all prices are drive away, in NSW.
You can get a V8 ute for as little as $39,990 drive away in Holden’s special “Please buy us PLLEEEEEEASE” campaign. The normal price for the SS is $43,757 That’s still insane for a V8. Can anyone show me another V8 sports coupe for that money? I say sports coupe because that’s what most of them are used as. Most tradfies won’t take their babies onto a muddy rock-strewn building site. The SSV Redline is the top model for $53,863 so you could get 3 top model V8 Utes for the same price as an M3 or AMG or S, or if you’re feeling like Japanese, RC-F. Let’s think about that for a bit, while all those letters are digested.
Many will have dropped their gin and tonics at the thought of a tradies vehicle gracing their upper middle class gravel drives. They prefer the badge engineered hard-on that comes with a German and it’s big throbber up front. Of course the cabins are nicer and the build quality probably better but none of them can carry a new mattress home from the Mr Snooze “I’m always on sale” sale. None of them can carry camping gear, and they’d look silly towing a skiing boat to Lake Macquarie for a weekend’s water sports. No, Holden have been very clever, and a bit dumb. They’ve not cashed in on the fact that their V8 tray-back coupe is flexible, desirable, useable and way under the luxury car tax limit. For that, you get 260kw in the auto, 270kw in the manual, and a huge 530Nm of torque. Once upon a time the Victorians thought 15MPH might rip a person’s face off so I’m not sure what they would make of 0-100 in under 6 seconds.
It isn’t until you’re behind the wheel that you really appreciate the fun which can be had at the expense of the environment. Sinking the boot in sees the fuel spit out the back in vast unused clouds as you rocket the road at an Olympic pace. Going around corners is fun too. With little weight over the back wheels, the tail is as happy as a Liberal pollie at a taxpayer funded wedding. The stability control gives the driver and amazing amount of leeway before it sends its nannies in to wrap you over the knuckles. It feels like good old fashioned driving, the way Peter Brock loved it. It is thrilling in the real sense of the word. The manual is the best. A sports exhaust makes the lion roar but you’ll have to sort it out yourself if you want more noise. As they come from Holden, you feel way more than you hear unless your foot is permanently welded to the floor. Only when the flood gates are fully open does the magnificence of a million push-rods make their presence felt. If you have the auto, you can shift gear via the steering wheel. The top model gets a Heads Up Display which is utterly brilliant because you can decide what is on it. It even tells you what directions to go in once the Satnav is programmed.
The interiors are shared across the Commodore range. The ute scores a couple of neat bins behind the seats for secreting big butch tools and other such things public eyes must not view.
The good thing about it is with the hard cover on the back, you can secure your groceries in a couple of milk crates not knicked from Coles. There are a couple of fastening points inside the tray for straps. If you don’t fix them in place, your groceries will be sliced and diced by the time you get home. If you don’t opt for the hard cover you have to make do with the soft cover which takes quite some time to master, and can’t be locked. The last thing you want is someone rooting through your privates while you’re at the boozer. After you leave the boozer, with your not-trollied mate at the wheel, you appreciate the Brembo brakes helping to give your ute a 5 star safety rating. It’s probably the only time it will occur to you.
The top models get the same gadgets as the Calais. Huge 19” wheels, blind spot warning, lane departure, automated parking both end in and parallel, plus the brilliant My Link infotainment system. You can use Siri to do your evil work while you keep your hands on the steering wheel. The rest of the gadgets make sure you don’t hurt yourself or your car when you’re distracted by a pretty face walking along the pavement. It is about as perfect as it can be, so why the hell are GM closing down their plants here.
Gone will be the Commodore and the little lamented Cruze. Ford will lose their Falcon and Territory, and Toyota will no longer build the electric Camry here. This is what happens when a government favours whom they support or not. Had Ford, Holden and Toyota been coal diggers, money would have been thrown at them with gay abandon. However, since they employ fay more people than mining and have many associated suppliers, clearly the government thinks they shouldn’t support the auto industry as they do mining and fossil fuels. If you think that thinking is a bit eggy you are not alone. Clearly the auto makers didn’t throw enough brown paper bags and bottles of Grange at the MPs concerned. It’s a great shame as the previous government had supported the auto workers and therefore the Australian made cars.
What this means is you have less than two years to snag a bit of Aussie Hairy-chested brawn. After that, who knows what will becomes of us? I suspect the rear wheel drive brigade will shrink to the size of a LNP MPs moral guide book and we will all be in Front Wheel Drive performance hatches. Their torque steer will try and kill us and the lack of space will cause mass deep vein thrombosis.
Would I buy one? HELL YES! These things are crammed full of kit, a heap of fun to drive, very practical, and with only two seats, prevent unwanted hangers-on.