New models - Holden - Commodore - SS V
First drive: Commodore SS V fully loaded
Local performance car buffs will warm to the new Commodore SS V
11 Aug 2006
THE pinnacle of Holden’s performance car pack has reached a new high.
The 2006 VE Commodore SS V – Holden’s so-called ‘king of the hill’ – has arrived with a heap of hype with huge expectations.
Not only does the SS V provide Holden with a halo that illuminates across its entire VE range and will inspire the look of its next-generation V8 Supercars, it also has the responsibility of protecting the future of the politically-incorrect Aussie muscle car, particularly against the sharp ascent in fuel prices and the recent rise in interest rates.
The SS V sits at the top of Holden’s revised performance car portfolio, effectively replacing the SS as that badge moves down the ladder to take the place where the value-conscious SV8 once stood.
Sliding in at $51,990 for the six-speed manual with a $2000 premium for the optional six-speed automatic, the SS V hits the road with plenty of pace from its 6.0-litre V8 and a long list of standard equipment and safety features for only $200 more than the outgoing and outdated VZ model.
The revised Gen IV 6.0-litre pushrod V8 lifts peak power from 260kW to 270kW at a lofty 5700rpm while peak torque of 530Nm is delivered at 4400rpm – although it should be noted that Holden released these figures measured on high-grade 98-RON unleaded fuel.
The increase in power is derived from several subtle mechanical changes, including new exhaust manifolds that also assist in meeting strict Euro III emission requirements and a high-flow exhaust with dual 2.25-inch pipes that exit through quad outlets at the rear.
The computer boffins have also recalibrated the engine management system to improve the performance and economy of the Mexican-built engine.
As befits a true Australian muscle car, the SS V is driven by the rear wheels through either a revised version of the trusty Tremec T56 six-speed manual or the brand-new GM 6L80E electronically-controlled six-speed automatic.
The T56 manual now features triple synchromesh on first and second gears and double synchromesh on the remaining forward gears to reduce shift effort. The shifter has been revised with a remote linkage that reduces NVH and has a shorter shift travel. Clutch pedal travel has also been reduced by 25mm to make every day driving duties more comfortable.
The American-made self shifter not only adds two extra cogs for a greater spread of ratios that improves acceleration and fuel economy, it is a much more sophisticated unit than the clunky four-speed auto it replaces.
It is the same transmission used in GM’s global performance car hero, the Chevrolet Corvette and several luxury Cadillac models. Holden is the first GM subsidiary outside of North America to fit the six-speed in a production vehicle.
Driven by a 32-bit electro-hydraulic control module, the gearbox features clutch-to-clutch shifting for precise and smooth gearchanges, a low 4.03:1 first gear for instant launch and swift acceleration and a staggered ratio spread - with a relatively tall sixth gear (0.67:1) for lazy highway cruising.
It’s been a long time coming, but Holden finally has a manual shift action for its auto – and it runs the right way around for enthusiastic driving, with forward for downshifts and back for upshifts.
Mechanically, the SS V rides on the FEII sports suspension that all sports and luxury short-wheelbase models, but picks up 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 245/45 Bridgestone tyres as original equipment while 20-inch dinner plates are on the option list.
The front suspension is a MacPherson strut with a double ball-joint lower arm, a direct acting stabiliser bar and front-mounted steering rack – which, when combined as a complete system, are designed to provide accurate steering and a more compliant ride than previous-generation performance Commodores.
The multi-link fully-independent rear suspension with coil-over dampers also has unique settings for the high-end vehicles and an aluminium diff centre that helps reduce weight.
Braking is delivered with ventilated 321mmx30mm front and 324mmx22mm rear rotors that feature twin-piston front and single-piston rear callipers, and an electronic brain that includes a locally-tuned Electronic Stability Program that links the anti-skid brakes and traction control to provide a fuss-free safety net that helps correct the car even in extreme conditions.
Building on the standard safety features, the SS V also has dual front, side and curtain airbags.
From a visual standpoint, the SS V has several additional features above the standard SS, including projector headlights and exclusive tail lamps.
Inside, passengers are presented with a feature-packed interior with leather-trimmed sports seats and steering wheel, alloy pedals, colour-coded instrument panel with sports gauges, dual-zone climate control and a large colour screen display unit that controls the 230-watt audio system.
For those extrovert customers, a contrasting dash with coloured inserts either side of the centre unit is available as an option, as is a full-sized 19-inch alloy spare $250), an overhead DVD player ($1290) and an electric sunroof ($1690). Otherwise, the SS-V is fully loaded – in more ways than one!
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