Work­horse and show pony

The world’s best value two-seater V8 sports car can also carry stuff

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test - JAMES STAN­FORD james.stan­ford@carsguide.com.au

EVEN if the Com­modore lives on past 2016, the Ute will al­most cer­tainly stop there.

Pow­er­ful rear-drive sedan-based utes have been part of Aus­tralian car cul­ture for decades, but toomany peo­ple have aban­doned them for Thaibuilt one-ton­ners such as the Toy­ota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Nis­san Navara.

The last roll of the Aussie ute’s dice came with the VF up­date.

Holden in­tro­duced a raft of changes in­clud­ing a dra­mat­i­cally im­proved cabin and a new-look front end, al­though the bud­get didn’t ex­tend to the back half of the Ute, which looks the same as be­fore.

VALUE

Hardly any­one has paid full price for an Aus­tralian-made car for years.

Holden recog­nised that deal­ers were of­fer­ing mas­sive dis­counts and de­cided tomake the list price more re­al­is­tic with VF.

Price cuts ran from$2500 to $5500, mean­ing the en­try-level V6 model now costs $32,990.

The model we’re test­ing is the fully loaded SS-V Red­line Ute, which costs $48,490, how­ever, you can get into a base SS Ute for just $38,990, which is a real per­for­mance bar­gain.

The SS-V Red­line gets the sporti­est sus­pen­sion, hefty Brembo brakes, 19-inch wheels, wider rear wheels, head-up dis­play, a col­li­sion avoid­ance alert, lane de­par­ture warn­ing and sports leather seats.

TECH­NOL­OGY

Hav­ing an SS is all about the en­gine. It’s a 6.0-litre Gen IV Chevro­let-built V8, with an al­loy block and pushrods. The out­puts are 270k W and 530N m when you pick the six-speed man­ual, but th­ese dip to 260k W and 517Nm when the six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion is se­lected. Un­like the leaf-sprung Fal­con Ute rear-end, the Com­modore’s rear sus­pen­sion is in­de­pen­dent and is sup­ported by coil springs. The load ca­pac­ity for the SSV is 650kg, which is de­cent for a sports ute but noth­ing to brag about on the work­site.

DE­SIGN

The VE Com­modore Ute was a stun­ningly at­trac­tive ma­chine. It looked to be chis­elled out of gran­ite, with hard sharp lines and bulging wheel arches.

The VF Ute looks like a mash-up. It has in­her­ited the front end with its more or­ganic shape, the rounded lights, re­duced arches and a bon­net that sits higher than be­fore.

It doesn’t match the car­ry­over rear end and the lines don’t line up the­way they used to. It’s not ugly yet com­pared to the last one, it is.

TheVE’s in­te­rior was cheap and dated, but the new one is bril­liant. It looks mod­ern, has some fan­tas­tic fea­tures and matches, or even ex­ceeds, what you’d ex­pect at this price point.

SAFETY

The Ute is a five-star ANCAP model. It has front, side and cur­tain airbags and Elec­tronic Sta­bil­ity Con­trol sys­tem, which can be turned off if you find your­self in a pad­dock.

As well as the lane de­par­ture and col­li­sion warn­ing fea­tures, it also gets blind spot warn­ing and re­verse traf­fic alert that lets you know of ad­vanc­ing cars when you back out of a car park.

DRIV­ING

The SS-V Ute, along with Ford’s XR6 Turbo coun­ter­part, are Aus­tralia’s an­swer to the Mus­tang and Ca­maro.

They are our two-door sportscars and are still the cheap­est way for Aus­tralians to ex­pe­ri­ence rear-drive mus­cle cars.

The VF SS-V is wickedly quick, but it is also more re­fined than ever be­fore. The cabin is classier and is an ex­tremely com­fort­able place to spend a fe­whun­dred kilo­me­tres.

It is a great ve­hi­cle and han­dles ex­tremely well for some­thing that can still carry a de­cent load.

The SS-V doesn’t slide about like utes of old un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion, which some driv­ers won’t like, but it is safer.

Con­sump­tion can rise to the high teens when pressed, so a light foot is im­por­tant.

Holden has­made ama­jor mis­take with the ex­haust though. You can hardly hear the en­gine. Why spend all that money buy­ing and re­fu­elling a V8 if you can’t hear it?

VERDICT

There is noth­ing quite like a big and com­fort­able V8 ute. It doesn’t look as good as the last model but the cabin is great. Just save some money for fuel and a louder ex­haust kit.

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