Power to the people

Devo­tees of V8 grunt will not be dis­ap­pointed with a Com­modore SS

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Used Car - GRA­HAM SMITH

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.

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