Hot Holden goes off with a bang

Pilbara News - - Motoring - Ewan Kennedy

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.

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