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Car reviews - Holden - Commodore - SS sedan


12 Nov 2002

A FEW extra kilowatts of power and a handful more Newton metres of torque may not sound like a huge incremental gain for Holden's revered Gen III Chevrolet V8, but a number of detail changes have made the brawny alloy lump a far more civilised thing to drive.

The same induction tract changes that were necessitated for Monaro by its more intrusive projector beam headlights have been applied to both Holden's standard 225kW V8 and to the "high output" 235kW V8 found in SS and SV8 models.

The changes make for a much deeper, more satisfying induction note and bring big gains in off-idle throttle response and refinement.

Less of the outgoing V8's coughing, wheezing and spluttering is accompanied by sudden throttle inputs at low revs. Combined with the long-travel clutch and super-tall overall gearing, the more civilised and tractable engine makes SS more pleasant to drive in urban traffic.

To achieve the 10kW and 15Nm peak performance gains (now 235kW at the same 5200rpm and 465Nm at 4400rpm), a new full-length twin stainless steel exhaust system is fitted to Holden's hi-po V8, which feels just a little stronger in the mid-range and more willing to rev cleanly to its 5500rpm redline.

Despite the odd firing order, it also produces an exhaust burble more in keeping with an engine displacing almost six litres.

The pushrod alloy V8 may still feel a little coarse, but there's no denying its ability, propelling the 1600kg SS to licence-losing speeds with devastating ease and building even more speed deceptively and with a little more character and effectiveness.

Commodore SS will run on regular, 91-octane unleaded fuel, thanks to its twin knock control sensors, which of course reduces performance. The vastly oversquare pushrod V8 also employs sequential fuel injection, coil-per-cylinder ignition and a six-bolt crankshaft.

Did you know?

Independent testing shows the VY SS accelerates to 100km/h in around six seconds - about the same as the XR6 Turbo, which is its major rival until the BA XR8 arrives next year. The VY SS completes the standing quarter-mile a little quicker, in about 14 seconds

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