The SV6 was Holden’s powerful riposte to Ford’s popular XR6
THE SV6 was a direct response to Ford’s success with the XR6, which pretty much buried the Commodore S, Holden’s previous six-cylinder sports sedan.
It’s almost 20 years since Ford unveiled the XR6 and there’s no doubting that it has built a following among those owners who believe you don’t need to drive a V8 to be hard and quick.
And as Ford’s flyer ascended, Holden’s S became lost in the traffic.
To be competitive, Holden needed a new hero six; that came in the form of the SV6.
The SV6 was built on the already sporty platform of the VE with body enhancements to give it an even more aggressive look. Under the bonnet it had a high output version of the 3.6-litre double overhead camshaft Alloytec V6 that put out 195kW at 6500 rpm and 340Nm at 2600 rpm. Buyers could choose between a fivespeed manual gearbox and an upgraded five-speed auto with a manual shifting option.
Underneath it had a combination of MacPherson strut front suspension and independent rear suspension, power steering and larger, more fade-resistant ABSsupported disc brakes front and rear.
With a body 50 per cent stiffer than the old model, a new suspension and nearly 50:50 weight distribution, the SV6 was blessed with a handling balance more often associated with European than local models.
On the road it was a revelation. It sat flat on the road, soaked up all the bumps with aplomb and went where it was pointed.
Inside was a different story. Awash in dark tones and dull grey plastics, the new cabin was disappointingly plain.
The handbrake was in the centre console and awkward to use. You had to be careful not to pull it too hard, as it could be very hard to release if you did.
The SV6 was equipped with standard features such as airconditioning, cruise control, multi-function steering wheel, alarm, immobiliser, trip computer, seven-speaker CD sound system, power driver’s seat, body kit including a rear spoiler and 18-inch alloy wheels.
IN THESHOP Fit and finish were an issue immediately after the launch of the VE. Odd noises were evident in early cars, so look and listen carefully when test driving cars.
The V6 engine is quite robust and gives little trouble, although some owners feel it’s a little weak at low engine speeds. This can make manuals hard to get off the line smoothly and make it feel unresponsive when you crack the throttle.
As with the engine, the transmissions are solid and give little trouble. Ensure your car of choice has been serviced and inspect for crash repairs.
INACRASH The SV6 was well equipped with safety features, coming standard with dual front airbags and side front airbags, along with active support from anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, electronic emergency brake assist, traction control and electronic stability control. ANCAP rated it at 4 stars.
UNDERTHEPUMP Holden’s official claim was 11.0L/100 km for the six-speed manual and 11.3L/100 km for the auto.
Reader Glenys Russell reports that she gets 12.0L/100 km in city driving, but as low as 6.0L/100 km on the highway. Holden says the SV6 happily runs on regular unleaded and approves it for E10.
Comeback: Holden’s VE SV6 sedan