The great eight de­bate

The Advertiser - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE - CRAIG DUFF

EIGHT-CYLIN­DER cars are an ex­trav­a­gance most buy­ers can do with­out. Most buy­ers al­ready do, opt­ing for smaller sedans and SUVs with ef­fi­cient turbo en­gines rather than the h home-grown V8s.

For those who drive their ve­hi­cles rather than com­mute in them, a tra­di­tional V8 is still an en­tic­ing prospect. If you were raised on the Holden v Ford ri­valry, it is a last chance to wave the red or blue flag.

That’s why Holden expects its new 6.2-litre V8s to ac­count for more than half of VFII Com­modore sales be­tween now and the 2017 fac­tory shut­down.

Ford fans are equally keen to put a su­per­charged 5.0-litre Boss en­gine in the garage, be it as a fi­nal farewell to an icon or a spec­u­la­tive in­vest­ment.

Chrysler will be the last large main­stream V8 sedan left stand­ing with the lo­cal duo’s demise and the US brand jus­ti­fies its heftier price tag with a more lux­u­ri­ous in­te­rior and the best straight-line per­for­mance.

All three are ca­pa­ble of a sub-five sec­ond sprint time, will house five adults in rea­son­able com­fort and have a drift racer’s dis­dain for fuel econ­omy and tyre wear.


The roar ap­peal of a big ca­pac­ity V8 — the most pow­er­ful en­gine fit­ted to a reg­u­lar Com­modore — is now sup­ported by sus­pen­sion that can man­age the torque. The re­vised rear end has a new sway bar to cut body roll, let­ting the en­gi­neers soften off the springs.

The changes mean the grunt now goes to the ground rather than evok­ing spin­ning wheels un­der hard ac­cel­er­a­tion out of a cor­ner. It is a vastly im­proved car when pressed hard. Brembo brakes are fit­ted to all wheels and a bi-mo­dal ex­haust gives the Holden bark to match its ap­pre­cia­ble bite. Bon­net vents and an LS3 badge pinned to the front bumper are the eas­i­est way to spot the VFII Com­modore be­cause the up­dates don’t ex­tend to the in­te­rior. That means more but­tons than are found in many mod­ern cars and there’s still a mish-mash of qual­ity fin­ishes and bud­get bits.

Over­all it is still a gen­er­a­tion clear of the Fal­con but a quick sur­vey shows friends are split on whether it or the Chrysler has the bet­ter look­ing dash lay­out.


If big­ger is bet­ter, the SRT rules the roost. It is the largest ve­hi­cle here in size and en­gine ca­pac­ity and, in the eye-sear­ing red of the test ve­hi­cle with pol­ished 20-inch al­loys, over­shad­ows the lo­cal duo vis­ually.

The Chrysler is also the quick­est car in a straight line. Its launch con­trol — all three cars have soft­ware as­sis­tance to help har­ness the torque off the line — lets own­ers ad­just the take-off revs de­pend­ing on road con­di­tions. A mid-four sec­ond sprint time is pos­si­ble in the right en­vi­ron­ment.

The premium cabin feel is en­hanced by leather and al­can­tara up­hol­stery and car­bon-fi­bre in­lays in the dash and door trim but for $69,000 (a less-blinged SRT Core can be had for $59,000) the door plas­tics are too hard for the money and de­tails such as the sun­glass holder mech­a­nism feel and sound cheap.

A long wheel­base also means the Chrysler can’t wrig­gle through the tight stuff like its lo­cal com­pe­ti­tion. Fron­tend re­sponse and steer­ing feel is vastly bet­ter than the pre­vi­ous model but the Chrysler is ul­ti­mately a grand tourer rather than a track-fo­cused per­for­mance sedan.

Chrysler has the Charger SRT Hell­cat to ful­fil the lat­ter role in the US and the Aus­tralian arm still hasn’t given up on get­ting that ve­hi­cle here.


Ru­mours con­tinue about the ar­rival of a more pow­er­ful XR8

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