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Driven: Holden’s VF Commodore-based Ute

Both camps: Some buy the Commodore ute as a workhorse, but plenty will also buy this VF version as a performance car.

Holden’s VF Ute is a sharper, cheaper car-like alternative for tradies than before


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30 May 2013

HOLDEN again expects to net a fair share of weekend warriors, and those wanting a coupe with a very big boot, with its revised VF Commodore Ute.

Just like the outgoing VE version, Holden says about half of all Utes to roll off the showroom floor will be high-performance V8 versions – which thanks to price cuts are now up to $5000 cheaper, and also better on fuel.

Unfortunately, we’ve so far only managed to drive the SV6 six-cylinder, a review of which you can read by clicking the button at the top of the story – stay posted for our V8 drive impressions.

As with its sedan sibling, the load-lugging Commodore’s biggest changes come under the skin, with a new interior design and plentiful use of weight-saving aluminium. It also gets the sedan’s more aerodynamic re-styled nose, although there are no styling changes at the rear.

By making the car lighter and slipperier, and by fitting a new electric steering system, Holden has also improved fuel efficiency. In fact, no VF of any stripe has benefited more than the SV6 Ute, which has copped a reduction of 8.2 per cent, down to 9.0 litres per 100km.

The new-look load-lugging range now kicks off at $32,990 plus on-road costs for the base version with a 210kW/350Nm 3.6-litre engine with a six-speed automatic replacing the old 3.0-litre version ($2500 lower than before).

As well as the price cuts and better engine, base variants add premium gear such as automated parking, an eight-inch touchscreen with a MyLink smartphone-based infotainment system, and remote vehicle start.

SV6 versions pair the same engine to either six-speed manual or automatic transmissions priced from an identical $32,990 – this is a $5500 discount, more than any other Ute variant. However, to compare it with the base model like-for-like, you must add $2000 for the optional automatic.

Extra features over the base include blind-spot monitoring, sports suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, a limited-clip diff for the manual, sports seats, soft tonneau and LED daytime running lights.

The entry price is still $4400 more than Ford’s base automatic Falcon ute, and the revised SV6 now undercuts the Falcon XR6 ute by $2200. Once again, you can get dedicated LPG versions of both the base ute and the SV6 for an extra $2500.

Next up the model tree is the V8 SS, which trades in the 3.6-litre V6 for a 260kW/517Nm 6.0-litre Gen 4 V8 (the outputs are unchanged over the VE), matches the SV6’s features list, and kicks off at $38,990.

The discount over the old version, at $3500, is less than the discount applied to the SV6, meaning the price gap between the two has widened.

Holden has managed to improve the fuel economy of the SS Ute by 7.3 per cent to 11.5L/100km.

The hardcore 270kW/530Nm SS-V now costs $42,490 after a $5000 discount over the VE, and comes with features over and above the regular SS such as leather seats, 19-inch alloy wheels, push-button start, satellite navigation, a colour digital display, footwell lamps and a DVD player.

For an extra $6000 you can get the SS-V Redline which, thanks to a relatively miserly $1500 price chop, now costs $48,490. Extra features include Brembo brakes, unique forged 19-inch rims, a colour head-up display, a forward-looking alert system that will warn you if it thinks a rear-end collision is likely, a lane departure warning system and “ultra” sports suspension.

The Lion brand has rolled out its new VF sedan tech on the ute version, too, including an electric park brake with automatic release, brakes that stop it rolling back on a hill, and Trailer Sway Control – although the towing capacity appears to have dropped to 1600kg from 2100kg.

Options such as a bundled blind-spot warning system and one that will even warn you if you are about to back into a passing car ($350), sat-nav ($750) and soft tonneau cover ($490) can be added to low-grade versions. The SV6 can be optioned up to get leather seats for $1000, and premium paint adds $550. Holden executive director of sales and marketing, Philip Brook, described the ute as much as a performance car as a humble commercial vehicle.

“VF offers the sort of world-class user technology that will redefine what it means to drive a ‘tool of trade’ vehicle. The ute is so much more than its humble beginnings - it’s become an incredible vehicle by any definition,” he said.

“For performance lovers the ute has become Holden’s ultimate two-door sports machine with half of our ute customers choosing a V8 model. VF Ute offers more of what people want – great performance, luxury features and the latest safety technology – and red hot prices across the range.”Holden Commodore VF Ute pricing*
Ute (a)$32,990 (-$2,500)
SV6$32,990 (-$5,500)
SS$38,990 (-$3,500)
SS-V$42,490 (-$5,000)
SS-V Redline$48,490 (-$1,500)
*Excludes on-road costs.

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