Make / Model Search

Car reviews - Holden - Commodore - range

Our Opinion

We like
Holden has saved the best for last, LS3 V8 is a monster
Room for improvement
Fuel economy is poorer, ride is harsh on bigger rims


Click to see larger images

8 Oct 2015

HOLDEN’S decision to poach GM’s LS3 V8 from the shelves of its home-grown rival HSV was being widely predicted some months back and has been, according to senior engineers, in the works for two years. (Oh, and don’t worry about HSV its base R8 uses a supercharged LSA V8 that makes 100kW more than the SS).

The change, while in itself not a big engineering feat according to the Holden people, is accompanied by an exhaust system that took two years to get right.

“Getting noise into the car, there was a bit of work in that,” said lead engineer Amelinda Watt. “When we began the project, we sat around in a room and said ‘what do we need to do to make this thing noisier and to get more noise into the cabin?&rsquo.”

While the team could have easily have pinched the system that is fitted to the US-spec Chevrolet SS – itself a raspy, rumbling thing – they chose to give the V8 its own unique send-off.

“We all love, we think it’s great. It’s a very exciting car, and we’re all very proud of it. And we love to see other people’s reactions to it.”

While the focus is on the eight-banger, the six-potter is the surprise package of the VF Series II range. Once considered coarse and uncivilised, the improved levels of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) suppression in the VF range as a whole had quietened and calmed the locally made 3.6-litre engine, especially under cruise. It’ll still yowl grumpily under a heavy right foot, but it’s miles better under the bonnet of the VFII.

Commodores have always improved quite markedly between generations, and the VF is no exception. The six-cylinder Calais hits a particularly sweet spot, proving comfortable and composed on longer runs, its 18-inch wheel-and-tyre package offering a good blend of precision and ride comfort.

The new SS V, though, adds a dash of chilli to the sweetness. Right from start-up, the exhaust lets you know that something lurks within, with a deep, chesty baritone rumble spiking your neck hairs. Deep, comfortable buckets hold you snugly, while the six-speed manual shifter and pedals are well positioned.

The Commodore actually does a great job of shrinking around its occupants, seldom feeling unwieldy and wide. It also feels smaller under your right foot, with the shorter final drive ratio sharpening the throttle response notably.

The new dual-mode exhaust is switchable via the infotainment screen’s menu system, and while we toggled the system on and off at various throttle loads, the only sound that really disappeared was the throttle overrun pop and crackle.

Open it all up, though, and the LS3-equipped Commodore SS trio will give a Jaguar F-Type a run for its money in the loud and entertaining exhaust noise stakes.

It’s never boomy or unpleasant at part-throttle, though, and the Commodore will cruise for long stints in agreeable silence.

The Redline adds 20-inch rims and a different suspension tune – and it’s a blast when you’re pushing on a bit. The LS3 is linear and eager to rev, and makes its power and torque from low in the rev range.

The engine’s flexibility means you don’t need to change gears as often, but the exhaust note means that you do.

When you’ve buttoned off, and despite the slightly softer shock tune, the large 20-inch rims and narrow-section tyres on the Redline can feel fidgety over surfaces that are less than perfect, which takes the edge off the car’s cross country ability.

It’s only a minor criticism, though with the addition of the LS3 engine, Holden has delivered the quintessential four-door sports sedan that feels like it’s made for Australia. Nowhere else can you get the combination of raw muscle, interior size, terrific interior and all-round ability that the Commodore sports variants provide for the asking price.

For our money, the SS V is the sweet spot – and you won’t short-change yourself by selecting the manual. The shift action is solid and precise, while the clutch is easy and user-friendly in traffic. The auto is nice, too, especially with the addition of shift paddles.

GoAuto tried both the Ute and the Sportwagon variants briefly, with little to report. The Ute does feel more nimble and lively, given it’s the lightest of the cars fitted with the monster motor.

The wagon feels little different to the sedan, though its cargo area isn’t as spacious as that in even a mid-sized SUV, thanks to the sloping roof-line.

Is this the last Commodore? No Holden is committed to carrying the nameplate into the future. Is it the last Australian-made Commodore? Holden is non-committal about the future of further special editions, but given that the end of production is still two years hence, we’d wager that one or two more specials may escape the factory.

This one, though, is worth considering, even if it’s just for a few years. It may have taken 36 years, but the Commodore has finally come of age.

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

GoAuto can help you buy a new Commodore

Customer Terms and Conditions – New Car Lead enquires


This is an agreement between GoAutoMedia Pty Limited ACN 094 732 457 of PO Box 18, Beach Road, Sandringham, VIC, 3191 (“we/us”), the owner and operator of the GoAuto.com.au website (“the website”) and the person wanting GoAuto.com.au to provide them with a lead for the purchase of a new car (“you”).

By completing a New Car Lead Enquiry, you agree to the terms and conditions and disclaimers and acknowledge the policies set out below.

Terms and Conditions

  • In order for us to effect a lead you must you must complete a New Car Lead Enquiry (“Enquiry”).
  • We will call you as soon as possible after you complete the Enquiry and certainly no later than the next business day. When we call, we will discuss with you your new car requirements.
  • You consent to our passing on the Enquiry and your requirements to an appropriate authorised motor car dealer as a lead.
  • We will contact you again in approximately eight days following your initial enquiry to check on the progress of the Enquiry.
  • While we will provide the dealer with the Enquiry and details of your new car requirements, we take no responsibility for what happens after passing on that material as a lead.
  • You acknowledge that we are a new car information service providing new car editorial information, pictures and prices to our customers as a guide only. Any new car prices published on the website are the manufacturers’ recommended retail prices and do not include delivery charges and on-road costs. Any authorized motor car dealer to which we pass on your Enquiry as a lead will provide you with full details of the price at which the vehicle will be sold to you.
  • You acknowledge that we do not sell motor vehicles. Any sale of a new car to you by a dealer after we have passed on your Enquiry to that dealer as a lead, is a sale by that dealer not by us.

Privacy Policy– New Car Lead Enquires

  • We take privacy very seriously. We understand that you will only complete an Enquiry if you can trust us to protect your personal information and use it appropriately. Our policy is to ensure that the personal information collected when you make an Enquiry is only used for the purposes of connecting you with an authorised motor car dealer.
  • We do not on-sell information collected from you or any other customer.
  • From time to time, we may email you with information or promotions that may be relevant for car buyers. You will continue to receive communications from us unless you tell us that you do not want to receive any advertising or promotional information in the future by unsubscribing from these communications.
* Denotes required field
** Australian inquiries only

Commodore pricing

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here