AUSSIE GRIT: Saving its best for last, Holden's Commodore is a genuine rival to pricIer performance European sedans.
AUSSIE GRIT: Saving its best for last, Holden's Commodore is a genuine rival to pricIer performance European sedans.

Holden Commodore SS-V VFII road test and review

(Warning: poetry coming)

THERE was slow movement at Elizabeth, for whirred eights were set to drown,

That great revolt from big rear-wheel sedans had taken sway,

And had joined the pumped up wagons - now the hottest things in town,

So all the fashionistas had gathered in SUVs in various shades of grey.

It's difficult not to get jingoistic when getting behind the wheel of a V8 Holden Commodore nowadays.

Launch the donk, feel the bent eight cabin rock, and it becomes a place where women glow and men plunder. Oh, you can hear the thunder. The problem for Holden is Aussies no longer have an appetite for what was once the automotive version of a Vegemite sandwich…more likely it's some hippie paleo pear prosciutto.

Posh Europeans are on the rise, the Koreans are knocking out some damn fine packages, whereas the big Aussie sedan is heading down the same obscurity path as Yahoo Serious (remember him?).

2016 Holden Commodore SSV. Photo: Contributed
2016 Holden Commodore SSV. Photo: Contributed

Comfort

Wide, welcoming and world-class standards. When first launched the VF deservedly received accolades for raising the bar, and while the changes are minimal in this second series it remains of high standard.

Supportive and well-contoured pews front and back make for a plush environment. Leather-trimmed seats, the chunky sports steering wheel which fills your palms, suede and leather materials across the dash featuring the SS-V logo along with a colour touch-screen are the hallmarks of an inviting cabin.

Quiet and well-mannered when under way, the V8 burble is audible but only confronting when exploring the rev-range realms. When stationary there is the customary bent eight rock.

Operationally everything is straightforward, the dual zone air con controls are at the base of the stack, while there are shortcut buttons either side of the touch-screen for easier access to key menus.

The driver has a concise display, with a head-up display which projects information just below the driver's eyeline. From speed, tacho or sat nav information, it's configurable to your preferences and helps keep a close eye on your velocity.

2016 Holden Commodore SSV. Photo: Contributed
2016 Holden Commodore SSV. Photo: Contributed

On the road

Raw and brutish, the new 6.2-litre V8 has power delivery which is blunt yet intoxicating. It has an ability to reach 100kmh from standstill in less than five seconds.

Not so long ago you had to spend upward of $80k to get that in an HSV.

But it's not all chest-beating and sprint prowess. The SS-V has a softer side.

Steering feel is rewardingly sharp, and you don't have to be hoofing things to enjoy the ride. The cabin is quiet, apart from the exhaust soundtrack which gets better the harder your push.

Equipped with a bi-modal exhaust using electrically actuated valves, "tuned to provide strong V8 character during start-up and spirited driving." Tuned at Lang Lang and across some of our most testing roads, it's a fitting finale to the Aussie stalwart.

2016 Holden Commodore SSV. Photo: Contributed
2016 Holden Commodore SSV. Photo: Contributed

What do you get?

Basic gear includes push button start, sat nav with live traffic updates, eight-speaker stereo with rear subwoofers, full Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity, 19-inch alloys, blind spot alert, front and back parking sensors and rear view camera along with an automatic parking function for parallel and 90-degree spots.

Safety is top-notch, and includes forward collision warning which cautions the driver when approaching another vehicle too quickly or if an accident is imminent. The reverse traffic alert is another great addition which warns of vehicles approaching within 25 metres when reversing out of a park.

2016 Holden Commodore SSV. Photo: Contributed
2016 Holden Commodore SSV. Photo: Contributed

Practicality

Many a road trip has been staged in a Holden Commodore, and the VF remains fine transport for five adults.

Common sense design in the centre console allows for two cup holders (it can also house the larger drink bottles), along with a couple of bins and useful spaces around the gear shifter for keys, wallets or smaller purses and the obligatory smartphone.

While the Sportwagon has split folding rear seats, it's not a function available in the sedan with only the centre seat folding. The boot is of reasonable size, but the height opening is narrow so that can cause problems for some bulky items.

Other options

There's always the arch rival Ford Falcon XR8 ($53,490) and its stablemate the Mustang GT ($57,490), as well as the Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core ($65,000).

Running costs

Making a highway journey of 100km, we managed fuel consumption of sub-nine litres.

But averaging about 13 litres for every 100km, the bent eight can chew through premium unleaded quickly when exploring the aural exhaust delights.

Holden does have the lifetime capped price servicing, so you can always check on the website the cost before heading to the dealer for maintenance.

Funky factor

Holden aficionados will wax lyrical about the changes from VE to VF...but in truth the exterior modifications weren't monumental.

With the breadth of marques available nowadays it seems like eons ago that there was essentially the choice between Holden or Ford. For many the brands are tied to the V8 racing heritage, and that can work against the Commodore for some better halves who aspire to have a chariot of a certain level of prestige (my bride included).

This Series II has improved aerodynamics with a larger grille and fascia ducts as well as hood vents, while rear signal lights at the back now have clear lenses.

2016 Holden Commodore SSV. Photo: Contributed
2016 Holden Commodore SSV. Photo: Contributed

The lowdown

Without doubt, this kind of performance for less than $50,000 is outstanding value. Testament to how far Holden has come in recent years, the SS-V is absolutely up there with some of the best performance Europeans.

Badge snobbery is perhaps the greatest challenge in this realm. When the final Commodores roll off the production line next year it won't be the end of the moniker. But the Commodore will have a different persona.

This SS-V and its Redline offshoot are performance heroes, but expect another sting in the tail from Holden before these Aussie brutes bid a final farewell.

2016 Holden Commodore SSV. Photo: Contributed
2016 Holden Commodore SSV. Photo: Contributed

What matters most

What we liked: Beautiful exhaust soundtrack, great fun to drive, internal space.

What we'd like to see: Folding rear seats, a bent eight to remain with a Commodore badge.

Warranty and servicing: Three-year, 100,000km warranty. There is also lifetime capped price servicing, average price for the first five services is $251 with intervals annually of every 15,000km.

Vital statistics

Model: Holden Commodore SS-V VFII.

Details: Five-seat rear-wheel drive large sedan.

Engine: 6.2-litre V8 petrol generating maximum power of 304kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 570Nm @ 4400rpm.

Transmission: Six-speed manual.

Consumption: 12.6 litres/100km (combined average).

Towing: 1765kg (braked).

Bottom line plus on-roads: $48,490.


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