Hot Holden goes off with a bang
Sadly, the VF Commodore Series II is likely to be the last ever Holden family car made in Australia, though Holden may surprise us by introducing a further update in the next 12 months.
However, the VF II SSV Redline sedan we tested last week has the final major upgrades, any future versions are likely to be minor dress-ups perhaps with special editions.
Given Australians’ love of driving it comes as no surprise that sales of the sporty Commodore models — SV6, SS, SSV and SSV Redline — are now making up more than half of all Commodore sales. This gave us a great excuse to road test an SSV Redline powered by a Chevrolet LS3 6.2-litre V8. Yep, the big engine . . .
Exterior design changes on the VF to make it the VFII are minor and are chiefly functional, being there for improved aerodynamics and the additional cooling requirements of the more powerful engine.
Air vents on the bonnet assist the release of hot air from the engine bay, and they also give the car a more aggressive look. Big corner fascia ducts have been added to channel air away from the front of the car.
Our test car had the most powerful non-HSV Commodore engine ever produced. With 304kW and 570Nm the LS3 has significantly more power and torque than the 6.0-litre it replaced, not that 270kW and 530Nm in the superseded VF was anything to sneeze at.
All that grunt goes to the back wheels by way of either a six-speed manual or some sort of an automatic transmission — we didn’t ask about the latter when offered a test drive by Holden.
Commodore VFII has GM’s MyLink system that works with smartphones through Bluetooth.
USB and aux ports are also installed. We have to admit to spending our time listening to the engine than to testing the audio output.
There are huge reserves of safety thanks to the well-tuned suspension and excellent brakes.
Selectable electronic overrides are there should you make small to medium mistakes. Should something come unstuck in a big way, Holden engineers have ensured their car got a five-star ANCAP rating.
This is quite simply the quickest non-HSV Commodore ever, leaping from rest to 100km/h in just 4.9 seconds. The clutch and gearbox aren’t exactly user-friendly, but that’s all part of the fun in any USbased muscle car.
The big V8 is supported by upgraded FE3 rear sports suspension aimed at improving ride comfort without affecting handling.
Even when pushed hard through tight bends the hot Holden is wellbalanced and stable.
Our range-topping SSV Redline had Brembo brakes front and rear. These can haul off speed very rapidly without any sign of fade.
While performance is the No.1 demand by owners of V8s, the sounds the engine emits run a close second. Holden developed a component called the “Baillie Tip”. Named after the engineer who designed it, Dr David Baillie, it uses an aperture in the tailpipe to reverberate sound back through the exhaust and into the cabin.
Fuel consumption is listed at 11.8L/100km on the combined cycle. We found our review car running in the mid-teens most of the time, but under 10L/100km on motorways.
With future Commodores likely to take the European route to fourcylinder turbo-petrols and V6 petrols, we suggest that V8 lovers get their backsides into one of these VF Series II models.