Workhorse and show pony
The world’s best value two-seater V8 sports car can also carry stuff
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.