Road test: Holden VF Commodore SS-V Redline

The Holden VF Commodore SS-V Redline.
The Holden VF Commodore SS-V Redline.

AUSTRALIANS are still hungry for large cars, if early signs are any indication.

The new Holden VF Commodore has whet the appetite of buyers and demand for some models is outstripping supply.

Among the hottest property are the range-topping Calais V and SS-V Redline. "This has overachieved our forecast," Holden large cars marketing manager Kristian Aquilina said.

The demand for the Redline variant flies in the face of doomsayers.

This V8 powerhouse is tuned for performance, honed and tweaked at the racetrack. With firmer suspension, better brakes and a split size wheel package, it's designed to exploit the Commodore's dynamics.

Even better news is the value. This Redline variant is more than $6000 cheaper than the model it replaces.
It's available in sedan, ute and sportwagon body styles and our stint at Phillip Island this week proved the range is more than capable on the track, as well as the road.

Comfort

Loyal customers - and even those who have never before considered a Commodore - are heading into showrooms.
The new VF has only been reaching dealerships since late last month and early impressions are making an impact.
Interior improvements deliver European-esque finishes and features.

Redlines and the SS-V derivatives receive some pretty nice kit. Two-tone leather and suede on the seats and dash set the tone, with the MyLink colour touch-screen system a new highlight.

But this model also has the head-up display, which projects information like speed and sat nav directions onto the windscreen just below the driver's eyeline. It is brilliant technology and a great way to keep a close eye on your speed - especially with that hulking bent eight beneath the skin.

Sports seats with wonderful bolstering are befitting of its athletic abilities, as is the thick sports steering wheel, which makes you want to hunt for some bends soon after slotting into the pilot's seat.
Head, leg and knee room is like any Commodore - excellent, with ample space for five adults.

On the road

Walking the tightrope of performance and daily driver is the task before the SS-V Redline.
It has been polished and tested on drag strips and race tracks by Holden's best and most passionate engineers, including the famed Nürburgring in Germany.

This thing is a true weapon. While it has the same 6.0-litre powerplant as the SS variant, the Redline gains improvements in ride and handling.

For the first time from Holden there are split tyre sizes (245/40 R19 front tyres and 275/35 R19 tyres at the rear), while it is also armed with firmer FE3 chasis, with the biggest stabiliser bar ever used on a Commodore, launch control in manual models to get off the line faster along with a Competitive Mode for racing conditions.

The engineers focused on three components with the Redline - stop, go and turn. The anchors have been improved with larger Brembo brakes, there has never been much doubting the shove from the bent eight, while new electrical power steering is spot-on.

Our brief stint around Phillip Island proved this is the best mainstream Commodore ever produced.
Flat and brimming with confidence, the burly Redline has some savage straight line speed, yet also manages to dance with finesse around challenging fast bends.

Race technology

Competitive Mode is perfect for those who like to get the most from their car via track days.

Public roads don't enable drivers to explore the Redline's true abilities and those who flex its muscles in a controlled environment will be rewarded with a car that is brilliant fun to drive.

By pushing the traction control buttons twice, the competitive blood is pumped into the Redline veins and provides greater steering weight, while also relaxing the stability control restrictions to enable some rear end slide.

We also gave launch control a workout with some drags down the Phillip Island straight.

With launch control, you engage the clutch, stamp on the throttle flat-out and it automatically holds revs at about 4000rpm. Dump the clutch and it takes off in a linear manner with limited wheel spin and style reminiscent of the best drivers in the business.

What do you get?

Like the Calais-V, the Redline goes without little. About the only option worth considering is the $500 rear spoiler.
Standard equipment includes the latest safety gizmos like forward collision alert, lane departure warning and head-up display.

Other key features are a premium Bose audio system and sunroof (sedans), Brembo brakes, forged 19-inch alloys, FE3 sports suspension package, leather trim and a colour touch-screen.

Plus it has the ability to stream music and podcasts via in-built applications using smartphone internet connectivity.

Running costs

The V8 can still be a thirsty beast, and given its burble and the lure of its roar under acceleration, achieving the official average fuel consumption of 11.8 litres/100km would be fanciful. These are also the widest wheels and tyres ever fitted to a mainstream Holden, so be prepared to pay more when it is time for replacement rubber.

Practicality

The beauty of the Redline is that it can lap the track with prowess, then pick up the kids and the groceries on the way home.

Like all Commodores, the rear seats do not fold, which is annoying if you want to transport bulky items.
The sedan's rear parcel shelf could also do with more than one child anchorage hook as standard.

The lowdown

This is a wonderfully complete car.

Take the raw V8 performance, outstanding cornering ability and a brilliant features list combine to deliver a package that is well under $60,000 on the road and it's difficult to fault.

Holden says a new breed of buyer is taking a long hard look at the new Commodore.

The VF may well be the one to break the bogan nexus. Pound for pound, kilogram for kilogram, it's the best performance you will get for this coin. 

WHAT MATTERS MOST
The good stuff: Great grip and cornering composure, interior styling, strong brakes, driving confidence.
What we'd like to see: Even more sound from the exhaust, improved fuel consumption.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year, 100,000km warranty. Servicing is capped at $185 for the first four services over three years or 60,000km. Servicing is every 15,000km or nine months. Complimentary inspection at 3000km or three months.
 

VITAL STATISTICS
Model:
Holden Commodore SS V Redline.
Details: Four-door rear-wheel drive large performance sedan.
Engine: 6.0-litre OHV V8 generating 270kW @ 5600rpm (260kW auto) and 530Nm @ 4400rpm (517Nm auto).
Transmission: Six-speed manual (sedan only) or six-speed automatic.
Consumption: 11.8 litres/100km (combined average).
Performance: 0-100kmh in mid-five seconds.
CO2: 281g/km.
Bottom line: Sedan - $51,490 (manual), $53,690 (auto). Sportwagon $55,690 (auto). Ute $48,990 (manual), $50,690 (auto).

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Topics:  motoring, review, road test




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