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First drive: Holden's SV6 sedan sophisticate

Savage and civilised: The SV6 looks like the brutish SS, but drives like a sophisticated sports sedan.

Some say SV6 is the pick of Holden's VE Commodore range, but is it really that good?

8 Aug 2006

IF you want a manual V6, or the cheapest five-speed automatic and/or sequential-shift function with your VE Commodore, then you must spend at least $39,990 and $40,990 respectively, for the sporty SV6.

This is also the least expensive entry point to the 3.6-litre High Output LY7 Alloytec V6 engine, the mandatory six-cylinder powerplant for either of these gearboxes.

It delivers 195kW of power at 6500rpm and 340Nm of torque at 2600rpm, compared to the fleet-focussed Omega’s and semi-luxury Berlina’s 180kW at 6000rpm and 330Nm at 2600rpm outputs from their 3.6-litre LE0 Alloytec V6.

In VZ SV6 guise, the figures were 190kW at 6500rpm and 335Nm at 3200rpm.

The SV6 manual uses a Japanese-made Aisin AY6 six-speed transmission, to help it return an ADR081/01 fuel-consumption average of 11L/100km – a 0.4L saving over the outgoing VZ Commodore SV6 with the same drivetrain combination.

Similarly, the SV6 fitted with the French-made 5L40E five-speed automatic gearbox records an 11.3L/100km result, a 0.1L improvement from before.

This contrasts to the 180kW LE0 Alloytec’s 10.9L/100km average, the best the VE range can manage despite using the antiquated American-made GM 4L60E four-speed automatic carryover gearbox.

Aiding the High Output Alloytec V6’s power and economy is a new, free-flowing dual-exhaust system.

Introduced with the VZ two years ago, the SV6 model is Holden’s response to the successful Ford Falcon XR6.

In keeping with the six-cylinder sports sedan theme, the SV6 features a bodykit and rear spoiler, sits on 18-inch alloy wheels and firmer ‘sports’ suspension, and comes with front fog lights, body-coloured mirrors and door handles, and chrome-tipped dual exhaust outlets.

Black-trimmed cabin fabric and fascia carry on the boy-racer theme inside, as do bespoke red-glow instrumentation and a leather-bound steering wheel.

Like the identically priced Berlina, the SV6 manual represents a $5500 jump over the base Omega, but adds air-conditioning (a $2000 Omega option), side airbags, Bluetooth connectivity and side airbags.

These are above the Omega’s standard ESP electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist, dual front airbags, cruise control, a trip computer, remote central locking, powered driver’s seat, power windows and mirrors and MP3 CD audio.

However, curtain airbags form part of a $2500 safety pack that also includes leather-trimmed seats, while a full-sized spare wheel and metallic paint cost $250 and $375 extra respectively.

Compared to the VZ SV6, the VE SV6 manual costs the same but the automatic adds $1000 more, but has a fuller specification list.

Like the Berlina, the SV6 is charged with gathering a higher number of private or user-chooser fleet purchasers than the old VZ edition.

And as with all VEs, the SV6 must compete outside of its traditional catchment area, currently inhabited by the homegrown 190kW/383Nm Falcon XR6 (which offers the optional six-speed automatic model for $30 less than the five-speed automatic SV6), 175kW/383Nm Mitsubishi 380 VRX and upcoming Toyota Aurion Sportivo.

In the SV6 sights are sports-orientated imports like the new Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TFSI, Subaru Impreza WRX, Ford Focus XR5 Turbo, VW Golf GTI, Renault Megane Sport, Mazda3 MPS and Mazda6, Saab 9-3 and Honda Accord Euro.

Helping the SV6’s chances is Holden’s decision to axe the V8-engined SV8 model from the Commodore line-up, although the $44,990 VE SS – powered by the 270kW/530Nm 6.0-litre GEN IV V8 – costs only $5000 more, and $7000 less than the outgoing VZ SS sedan.

Nevertheless, with a simpler model range and clearer differentiation than before, Holden is confident that the VE SV6 will instigate quite a following.

"I think it’s the best out of the lot to drive," one insider told GoAuto.

2006 Holden VZ SV6 pricing:

SV6 - $39,990
SV6 (a) - $40,990

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