Holden: 2014 VF Commodore SS V Redline review

Holden: 2014 VF Commodore SS V Redline review

IMG_0495 It was almost ironic that the day I was due to return the SS V Redline back to the dealership, a recall for a potential seat belt fault was issued by Holden. It didn’t for a moment phase me or take the shine off what is a very competent and capable car.

IMG_0508Even more ironic was the fact that it was also the fourth test car in a row that arrived in White paint with black alloy rims – this seems to be very much a trend amongst manufacturers at the moment – white is most definitely the new black!

Full disclosure, I grew up in a family which ran numerous vehicles out of the General Motors stable, including Bedford trucks and vans, Vauxhall cars, and we also had a number of Holden sedans and station wagons.

As a family vehicle, we went from a three on the tree, manual Holden Kingswood station wagon, to a four-speed manual Bedford CF van to a VH Commodore station wagon with a three-speed automatic, as day to day transport.

There was also a Nissan C20 Vanette somewhere in there as well, a minor aberration on my Dads behalf, while the truck fleet saw numerous Isuzu trucks come and go.

So, despite the Generals past best and worst efforts, I’m still very fond of the large Aussie sedan, and am somewhat saddened that despite the fact that the new VF Commodore photo 1is actually a world class car, its days are definitely numbered.

Sadly, although you can easily fit five people and a boot full of luggage into the Commodore for a long distance trip which is its greatest feature and benefit, more and more consumers are opting for an SUV style vehicle that can seat up to seven people and give even more flexibility.

Indeed demand for the Holden Colorado 7 and Holden Captiva 7 SUV models grows month by month as the sales charts tell us.

However for the diminishing few such as myself who still like a large sporting sedan, the VF Commodore has more technology, more refinement (actually for a V8 its too damned quiet for my taste but more on that later), and more active and passive safety features than its predecessors.

Who would ever have thought even as recently as five years ago, that a mass market Aussie designed and built car such as the Commodore would offer a head up display system, photo 2and one that not only projects the speed of the car in front of you, it will also show up turn by turn instructions from the satellite navigation system, and will even flash up the next song being played from your iPod as it starts.

I don’t need automated parallel parking assistance (well not as yet) but its a function thats there, and no doubt is a godsend for people who find parking a bigger car a challenge in the urban environment.

Occasionally the forward collision alert will bleep at you if you are getting a bit too close to the vehicle in front, and the lane departure warning, and blind spot alert are also very image98019_auseful features for people who spend their life commuting in heavy motorway traffic.

I did find occasionally that the forward collision alert was a bit too sensitive, occasionally mistaking a parked car as an object I was about to hit.

The reversing camera, reverse traffic alert, and front and rear parking sensors also deserve a hymn of praise, especially in tight car parking buildings but the Commodore is surprisingly manoeuvrable for a large car.

image98015_bThe VF Commodore has a much more premium feel to the interior, no doubt due to the fact that this car was designed for both left and right hand production, the left hand drive cars being exported to the USA as the Chevrolet SS.

When Holden designed the VF, they had a clean sheet, and came up with an interior that was far more cohesive and controls that were much more ergonomically designed. The awkward Saab style handbrake has been ditched and replaced by a dinky-wee electric park brake which can be activated with one finger, and the controls for the electric windows have thankfully been moved from the centre console back onto the door cards which looks better, and feels more natural to use.

I liked the light grey coloured cloth trim that is used on the upper dashboard panel and the upper panels of the doors, as well as the stripe along the seat upholstery that just adds a touch of finesse and make the vehicle feel a bit more premium.

Syncing up your phone to Bluetooth in Holden’s MyLink infotainment system is quick and simple, and the sound from the 9 speaker Bose audio system is pretty decent, I like to plug the iPod into most vehicles to compare sound image98017_bquality and I wasn’t disappointed.

The satellite navigation system is very good, although some local roads near home have seen roundabouts removed recently, and the Holden system has obviously not been updated yet, but I’m sure a trip to the dealer would rectify this at the next service.

The remote engine ignition on the key fob is great on cold winter mornings. Set the air conditioning to defrost the night before,and then the following morning you simply activate the key fob, and hey presto, minutes later you walk out to a defrosted car.

In addition to the previously mentioned head up display, forward collision alert, and land departure warning systems, the SS V Redline is further differentiated from the SS V by the addition of Brembo brakes, Forged 19 inch alloy wheels, Ultra High Performance 245/40 R19 (front) and 275/35 R19 (rear) tyres, and updated FE3 ultra sports tuned suspension.

It was interesting to drive the SSV Redline directly after two tautly-sprung AMG Mercedes-Benz models, the last one being the C 63 AMG reviewed recently here at Car and SUV.

The Commodore FE3 suspension package is much more comfortable to live with on a daily basis in a world of potholes and cobblestoned urban streets, than the European sedans were.

My fillings didn’t rattle every time the car ran over a less than desirable surface, and yet when you pushed the big beast around, it handles very crisply and benignly, and that shove in the back acceleration off the line reminds you that there is indeed no substitute for cubic inches.

It was also interesting to compare average fuel consumption between the 6.3-Litre V8 AMG and the 6.2-Litre V8 Holden, my worst in the Benz was 19.5L/100km and the Redline was 18.5L/100km.

So despite the Benz having a seven-speed automatic transmission as opposed to the six-speed automatic in the Holden, it was still the thirstier beast, but it certainly made some noise.

And therein is my one gripe with the SSV Redline, its exhaust note is just too damned quiet.

Hells bells Holden, if I’m going to drive a dirty great 6.2-litre Chevrolet sourced V8 engine, then I want all and sundry to damned well hear it! So sod the greens and political correctness, please please install a louder exhaust system when we get to VF series II, please.

Price: $74,490 plus on road costs

Pros:

  • Comfortable and capable long distance tourer
  • Enormous boot capacity
  • Great fun to drive

Cons:

  • Heavy urban fuel consumption
  • Not a 7 seat SUV
  • Overly sensitive forward collision alert

SSV Features:

  • 6.0-litre Gen IV V8 engine
  • Leather appointed seats
  • Sensor key technology with push button start
  • Front fog lamps
  • Colour digital instrument display: vehicle information menu, trip information menu, fuel economy menu, warning/messages
  • Satellite Navigation with full colour mapping with live traffic updates, traffic management control and points of interest
  • Footwell lamps
  • Brembo brakes
  • Forged 19” alloy wheels (4)
  • Ultra High Performance 245/40 R19 (front) and 275/35 R19 (rear) tyres
  • Colour Head-up Display
  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Updated FE3 sports tuned suspension
  • 9-speaker Bose® premium audio (sedan only) (option package on SS V with sunroof)
  • Sunroof (sedan only)

 

 

 

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