Power to the people
Devotees of V8 grunt will not be disappointed with a Commodore SS
NEW THE market has shifted away from full-sized cars and V8s. But this is Australia and there are still some who reckon there’s nothing better than a big car with a thundering V8 under the bonnet.
It’s for those punters that Holden produces the SS, the company’s performance model that dates back to the 1970s.
The VF series SS and its SS V and SS V Redline siblings were the last in the long line of sporting Holdens, this time based on the new and improved Commodore launched in 2013.
Externally the changes were modest; it was inside that the greatest changes took place where the stylish interior received a more modernlooking dash, easier-to-use controls and more appealing materials.
But as with all muscle cars like the SS, the interest was focused on the engine and the performance it produced.
In the case of the VF SS the engine was the same 6.0-litre overhead valve V8 that powered the previous model.
When linked to the sixspeed manual gearbox it produced 270kW/530Nm, but the output was a tad less when combined with the six-speed sports-shift auto.
Despite the carry-over engine from the VE the performance was very marginally increased thanks to a modest reduction in the weight of the new model.
Revisions to the sound deadening on the firewall gave those inside a more pleasing V8 rumble.
New linear power steering replaced the previous variableratio setup to improve the feedback to the driver for better feel of the road.
Stepping up to the V and V Redline was rewarded with a raft of suspension, brake and tyre upgrades that added another dimension to the excitement of the SS.
The brakes improved in feel and progression when applied. The stoppers on the V and V Redline were even better.
It all came together on the road where the SS and its derivatives rewarded the driver with their thundering performance, reassuring handling and firm but still comfortable ride. NOW Most owners are happy with the earlier VE Commodore but there were issues that caused some to be less than enchanted with their Holdens.
The most often talked about issue was the oil consumption of some, not all, 6.0-litre engines. Given the engine is the same as the VE’s, there’s no reason to believe that this issue won’t arise in the VF. With that in mind it’s important for owners to make regular checks on the ,oil level to ensure the engine doesn’t run dry and seize.
Holden recently issued a recall notice on the VF relating to the possible malfunction of the seat belt pre-tensioners. Check that this work has been done on any car before purchase.
Phil Burns bought a 2013 SS V Redline and says it’s “awesome”. It’s great fun to drive, very comfortable and hasn’t missed a beat in the 15,000km it’s done so far.
He says it’s thirsty around town where he gets 16.0L/100km — but adds that he didn’t buy it for its fuel economy. It’s better on the highway where he gets 9.0L.
Phil’s only complaint relates to the voice command system.
Paul Jerome moved up from a VE SV6 when he bought his SS V Redline, to which he added a Walkinshaw pack for a little more grunt. He now has 310kW under his right foot.
He seldom sees the car’s full potential but there have been times, he says, when a quick burst has been required for overtaking and that’s when the extra urge comes into play.
As far as he is concerned, the VF SS V Redline-plus ticks all of his boxes. SMITHY SAYS The SS delivers plenty for those who prefer the punch of a V8.