Holden

Likes: Classy inside and out, full of cool tech, fabulous sounding engine

Not so much: ute looks like the old model with a nose job

Holden VF SS V sedan and ute (1)When Holden killed the Monaro off, again, they left themselves without 2 door muscle, or did they? A ute has 2 doors plus the added benefit of a big cargo hold. The ute’s possibilities are endless if only we can get over the fact that hot, sweaty, tool-belted tradies are usually seen driving them. Just imagine it: A hot sweaty bear-chested tradie with his tool belt full of tradie’s thingummies leaning against the tailgate pouring water down his rippled stomach on a hot steamy day. Suddenly, the Ute seems all shiny and new. One might even fool oneself into thinking driving a big butch Ute may attract the right kind of boy? Who knows, it may well do exactly that.

Think about it for a moment, the cargo area could just as easily fit picnic hampers and gingham table cloths as it does bags of cement and boxes of nails. The Commodore ute in SSV guise is cool and sexy and very very fast.

The VF is a different beast altogether from the car it replaced regardless of how similar the sheet metal looks. The nose is all VF with side vents looking decidedly Aston Martin-ish. But from the windscreen back it is almost the same as the VE. Larger 19” wheels look particularly aggressive without making the ride feel slightly worse than sitting on a pile of broken bricks. This isn’t one of those cars where it is form over function. The European look is a very heavy makeover of the previous VE Commodore but is much more than just a pretty new frock. Holden tested the VF at the Nürburgring, Germany’s famous racetrack and it did very well indeed. The thought of an Australian designed and built car giving the Nürburgring a thorough seeing to should have us all bursting with pride. The racetrack is usually the home of hot Mercs, BMWs, Porsches and Audis with some Italians thrown in for good measure.

Holden VF SS V sedan and ute (5)

The sharper handling (strut front, independent multilink rear) shares suspension tuning with other members of the Commodore range. The ride is also common across the range so no longer do the uber sporty models jar fillings loose and the base models wallow like a blancmange. There is a comfortable amount of body roll but anyone wanting a track day will be the type to get a couple of chaps to fiddle about in her gusset. They’ll add bracing, map the engine and strengthen the struts in order to tempt 20 or 30 KW from the ironwork up front. In my experience it ruins your fuel consumption and your ride for the sake of a few hours a year. What comes out of the factory feels pretty good without the fiddling.

New in the VF is electric power steering and Holden has done a bang up job. I’ve not driven anything under $120,000 with as much feel and finesse. It’s nice to drive something so sure footed that was made here. Holden is sending this little gem across the pond to big daddy GM in the USA making the point all the more picante. GM love the Commodore so much they are getting them by the ton to sell in the USA as Chevy SS. It says a lot about our designers. The slight body-roll doesn’t seem to affect the steering overly but even with the nannies switched on the rear can become a little wayward. Experienced drivers use this liveliness to help steer but the rest of us might need to use a bit of caution.

The Brembo brakes are brilliant with no sign of fading in normal use though it must be said I have not had the pleasure of thrashing that gorgeous V8 round the racetrack. The handling is superb even with the lively rear end.

Most impressive is the classy cabin. There are acres of leather, comfy seats, stunning audio and brilliant quality designed to provide a real home-grown alternative to an expensive import that usually gives much less. The quantum leap from the last model shows that a carmaker can move like the wind when they have to. Holden saw Ford’s Falcon sales being decimated and pondered the future of its own big car and found it wanting. Holden started from scratch redesigning the look and feel with particular care taken on the quality of material used and the way it’s been put together. Everything about the interior design points to a car which costs a more but the Commodore range is now less expensive than before.

One slightly worrying is the suede panels which adorn the top models and looks to be high maintenance. Once dirty, the lighter colours will look shabby but all that can be replaced if you can be bothered. It is the little things like that which age an interior.

Finally, Holden stuffed the Commodores chock-full tech such as:

Sensor key, electric self-releasing park brake, Hill Start Assist, Blind Spot Alert, reversing alert, rear camera and My Link to name but a few. Adding to this the fact that Holden has reduced the prices by up to ten grand (on the top Caprice). There is no other car sold here which can touch Commodore for the price and value. Anything imported is going to cost you another $100,000 at least. Where else will you find a large V8 coupe with room for a special friend as well as bags of luggage space?

Would I buy one? Yes I would, and it’s worth every centime. I’d shell out more shekels for the hard rear cover and bars, and perhaps even option up the wheels.

Engine/trans: 270kW/530Nm 6.0 litre V8/6spd manual ($2200 adds 6spd auto)
Fuel consumption listed: 11.8 l/100km (up to E85 compatible)

PRICING (excludes on-road costs)

Recommended retail prices, excluding dealer delivery and government charges:

Ute (auto)

$35,490 (Omega)

$32,990

- $2,500

SV6 (manual)

$38,490

$32,990

-$5,500

SS (manual)

$42,490

$38,990

-$3,500

SS-V (manual)

$47,490

$42,490

-$5,000

SS-V Redline (manual)

$49,990

$48,490

-$1,500

Automatic transmission adds $2,200 including GST
Prestige paint adds $550 including GST

VF Ute Factory Fit Option Pricing (includes GST)

Holden Ute
Blind Spot Alert and Reverse Traffic Alert- $350
Satnav – $750
Soft rear cover – $490

SV6
Satnav – $750
Leather seats – $1,000

SS
Satnav – $750

 

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