Car reviews - Holden - Commodore - SS-V Redline sedan
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SS-V Redline sedan
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An engine for the ages, brilliantly overt exhaust, genuinely premium feel
Room for improvement
Primary ride a shade too firm, we won’t see its likes again
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8 Mar 2016
By TIM ROBSON
Price and equipment
THE SS-V Redline is the most sporting Commodore you can buy this side of an HSV, and it kicks off at $54,490 plus on-road costs for a six-speed manual-equipped V8 sedan. If you want to add a paddle shift-equipped six-automatic transmission, add $2200 to the bottom line.
New negative-pressure bonnet vents, a clever bi-modal exhaust built just for the car and a shortened final drive ratio are standard kit for this hot-rodded Holden. In addition, the SS-V Redline also gets a colour head-up display, new 20-inch rims, rear Brembo callipers to complement the front pair and updated rear FE3 sports suspension.
The SS-V Redline really is a lot of car for the money, and it beats out any similarly sized rival you’d care to cross-shop against it in every conceivable measure but the badge.
Out of eight paint offerings, just two – white and red – are no-cost options.
The rest are $550 a pop.
Leather trim, keyless entry, forward-collision alert, blind spot and reverse traffic alerts and remote starting for auto-equipped cars are just some of the Redline basics, while a Bose stereo system teams up with Holden’s MyLink 8.0-inch touchscreen-based infotainment system.
In typical large sedan style, there is oodles of room for up to five passengers, with the front pair particularly well looked after. The rear pew is deep in the base and sculpted through the backrests, with lots of footwell room even for the tallest rear-seat riders.
The boot isn’t the biggest in the class, and the relatively narrow aperture can make loading a bit awkward for larger boxes, and of course a sedan will always lose in cargo space trumps to an SUV. But remember, this beast also comes in Sportwagon guise.
Engine and transmission
The high compression-ratio LS3 eight-cylinder engine – poached from the HSV stable, and prepped for the Commodore on the quiet over a two-year period – produces 304kW and 570Nm of torque up 34kW and 40Nm over the previous 6.0-litre LS1 V8.
It’ll do 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds in six-speed manual guise, and it’s a tenth slower when backed by the six-speed automatic.
It is also less fuel efficient, with the automatic-equipped SS-V V8 consuming 12.6 litres per 100 kilometres, and the manual 12.9L/100km. These figures are a solid litre per 100km worse than the previous engine’s consumption numbers.
The exhaust is a special build just for the 6.2-litre-equipped Commodore, with the sound selector buried in the touchscreen’s menus. Noise was the goal and noise is what they got there’s a rollicking rumble of off-throttle bangs and crackles from the quad exhausts that combines with a deep and authoritative note that never gets old – to you, at least. Your neighbours may be of a different opinion.
Ride and handling
Right from thumbing the start-up button, the exhaust lets you know that something sinister lurks within, with a deep, chesty baritone on start-up rumble spiking your neck hairs. Deep, comfortable buckets hold you snugly, while the six-speed manual shifter, chunky steering wheel and pedals are well positioned it’s not always been the case with Commodores, but the VF is a real driver’s delight.
The Redline adds 20-inch rims and a different suspension tune – and it’s a real blast when you’re pushing on a bit. The LS3 engine is linear and eager to spin, and makes its power and torque from low in the rev range.
The engine’s immense flexibility means you don’t need to change gears often, but the intoxicating exhaust note means that you do. A lot.
As a complete package, it’s possibly the most resolved, involving and downright entertaining sporting Commodore that Holden has ever bolted together. Loads of front-end grip is balanced by a rear that, while stable and predictable, can be coaxed into rear-steer silliness that just adds to the sense of fun.
The braking package is immense – a pleasant change from days of yore where slightly warmed-over Commodores would wilt under the merest hint of heavy use.
When you’ve buttoned off, and despite the slightly softer shock tune than the previous generation SS-V, the large rims and low-profile tyres on the Redline can feel fidgety over surfaces that are less than perfect, which takes the edge off the car’s otherwise sterling cross-country ability.
Safety and servicing
The Commodore has earned a five-star ANCAP rating, and comes with six airbags and the ISOFIX child seat anchorage system, along with its comprehensive electronic passive safety array.
Holden offers a fixed-price service program for its cars, which varies from vehicle to vehicle and on the odo. For example, a 15,000km service for the 2015 Redline costs $299, while the 150,000km service will set you back $1200.
For our money, the SS-V Redline 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. It’s also likely to be more sought after by enthusiasts in the years to come, if such a thing matters to you.
The party trick here is the HSV-sourced LS3 6.2-litre kicking out 304kW and a steaming wedge of 570Nm. Some tidying up of the rear end, a revalve of the dampers, an amazing exhaust and a hint of rose tinting, and the last of the Mohicans is transformed into an astonishingly capable cross-country weapon.
Saving the best to last? Too right, cobberRivals
Ford Falcon XR8 from $53,490 plus on-road costs
Once natural foes, today the standard Falcon XR8 isn’t in the fight chassis-wise. The limited-edition Sprint might be more of a match, but you’ll need to stump up more coin.
Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core from $65,000 plus on-road costs
Another big, roomy V8 sedan with a mega motor. The donor vehicle is even older than both the Falcon and the Commodore, though, and the Core is a stripped-down rig that still costs more than the Commodore.
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