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How do you say goodbye, when you know it’s over for good? You celebrate the highlights, be thankful for the good times, and finish it with dignity. And that’s exactly what Holden has done after no less than 69 years of producing uniquely Australian vehicles.
And talk about going out on a high... The final versions of the Commodore VF Series II, the last locally produced Holden, are special. And few things are as quintessentially Aussie as a ute. Which brings us to the subject of this review – the Holden SS-V Redline Ute.
With an LS3 version of Chevy’s GenIV small-block V8 stuffed in its nose, this macho work truck represents a fitting finale, as well as a reminder that the majority of local new car buyers have moved on from a once passionate rear-wheel drive, large car relationship.
|Holden UTE 2017: SS-V REDLINE|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
The Commodore VFII was launched in late 2015, and headline news was introduction of the 6.2-litre LS3 V8.
But the designers had also been tinkering with the car’s looks, adding a wider lower grille, (functional) bonnet vents, and revised ducting on the front corners to improve aero performance.
All sedan and wagon models had their tail-lights freshened up, and wheel design was given a makeover, the SS-V Redline performance flagship copping new 19-inch alloys.
Arriving in February this year, the 2017 model year SS-V Redline was given some minor tweaks, inspired by last year’s limited build ‘Commodore Black Editions’, including black fender vents, grille surrounds and exterior mirror caps. The standard black sports bar completes a purposeful, borderline menacing look.
Three premium paint colours were also added for the final year of production, including our car’s bold shade of ‘Light My Fire’ orange.
With the car making its final curtain call, no surprise changes to the interior are limited to none. But the cabin remains a comfortable and neatly composed space, with grippy leather seats facing the carefully sculpted and layered dash (which was such a huge focus in the transition from the VE to VF generation in 2014).
At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, the Holden Ute is a two-seater, and that pair of occupants is well catered for in terms of space, comfort and storage. Head, leg and shoulder room measurements are identical to those in the front of the sedan and wagon.
If you’re a hard-working tradie, or even a lazy one, there’s plenty of room for your paperwork in the full-size glove box, plus a pair of receptacles for you and you off-sider’s pre-dawn cappuccinos. There’s also a generous, lidded storage box with a USB port and 12V socket inside between the seats, and two oddments trays in the centre console.
The door bins will hold a normal size water bottle, there’s enough bonus storage space behind the seats to squirrel away a small (35-litre) suitcase on either side, and there are netted storage pockets back there as well.
Then there’s the tray. If you want to play strictly by the rules and cover you load with the standard tonneau, you’ll have 2064 litres of space to play with. Break out the ratchet straps and go for broke and you’ll be able to stuff in a lot more than that.
Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) is 2385kg, and kerb weight is 1766kg, which translates to a payload figure of 619kg. But remember that capacity includes you, and anything else you have in the cabin, not just what you put in the tray.
Add a ladder rack at the back of the tray, and with a bit of height extending padding on top, the standard sports bar becomes more than just a macho accessory. Bolt on a tow bar and you can haul a 1600kg (braked) trailer, with trailer sway control a welcome standard feature. And it’s worth noting the spare is a full-size alloy.
At $52,490 for the six-speed manual (six-speed auto $54,690) the SS-V Redline Ute packs a heap of standard equipment, including dual-zone climate control, a reversing camera, ‘Auto Park Assist’ (parallel and perpendicular), ‘Remote Vehicle Start’ (auto only), ‘Jet Black’ ‘leather-appointed’ seats, leather-trimmed sports steering wheel, the 19-inch alloys, an 8.0-inch colour multimedia touchscreen (managing the MyLink and sat nav systems, but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto), sports seats, LED daytime running lights, a colour head-up display, cruise control, front fog lights, keyless entry and start, auto headlights, and rain-sensing wipers.
Add in all the safety and performance tech we’ll get to shortly, and you’re looking at a lot of fruit for a solid, but far from outrageous sum of money.
The 6.2-litre, naturally aspirated V8 engine sitting under this ute’s bonnet is the LS3 version of Chevy’s GenIV small-block family.
Built around an alloy block, with old-school pushrods actuating the valves, this monstrous unit produces 304kW at 6000rpm (no far from the 6600rpm rev ceiling), and no less than 570Nm at 4400rpm.
Environmentally sensitive readers may want to avert their eyes at this point, because Holden’s claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle could be unsettling. Aw, what the hell. Let’s rip off the fuel economy Band-Aid for the SS-V Redline Ute.
In auto guise you’re looking at 12.9L/100km, and a far more frugal 12.8L/100km for the manual, emitting 301 and 298g/km of C02 respectively in the process.
But according to the on-board computer, over roughly 300km of city, suburban and freeway running, we used an average of 17.2L/100km. And by the way, you’ll need 71 litres of 95RON premium unleaded to fill the tank
What’s not to love about 6.2-litres of Detroit’s finest sitting under your right foot. In fact, the standard ‘Bi-modal’ exhaust system (with ‘Mechanical Sound Enhancer’) offers the ability to punch the volume up to agreeably growly, neighbour disturbing levels.
But there’s plenty of bite to match the rumbling bark. Pin the throttle and this ute is primed to win the early morning tradie grand prix, with the close to 1.8-tonne machine charging from 0-100km/h in a claimed 4.9 seconds. That’s quick work!
There’s nothing like an atmo engine to deliver linear throttle response served with an appetite for revs, and the LS3 obliges with a deep ocean of torque on tap through the mid-range.
Response and road feel from the variable-ratio, electrically-assisted steering are excellent, and when you’re having a crack, power down on corner exit is solid thanks in no small part to the standard LSD and high-performance Bridgestone rubber (245/40 front – 275/34 rear) that sticks like bugs on a windscreen.
The sports seats are grippy and comfortable, while the six-speed auto is perfectly matched to the mega-torquey engine. Manual shifts, courtesy of the wheel-mounted paddles, while not quite dual-clutch rapid, are crisp enough to keep the big V8 on the boil.
Braking comes courtesy of the good people at Brembo, front and rear (355mm front – 360mm rear), and stopping power is progressive, effective, and consistent.
Ease off into cruise mode, though, and the ute’s harsh ride becomes apparent. The combination of the big 19-inch rims, and the SS-V Redline’s “track capable” FE3 suspension tune delivers less than limo-like comfort.
Holden may have tweaked the dampers (for the 2016 model year) to improve compliance, but further work is required (and sadly, that opportunity has passed).
Aside from the ride quality, the only other niggle is the size of the exterior mirrors. That is, they’re too small, and it’s not the first time we’ve had a whinge about it. Just be ready for some squinting and neck contortion in getting the best out of them.
3 years / 100,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Active safety highlights include ABS, EBD, EBA, ESC and traction control, as well as ‘Forward Collision Alert’, ‘Lane Departure Warning’, ‘Blind Spot Alert’, ‘Reverse Traffic Alert, the reversing camera and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
All that’s impressive, but the lack of AEB is a big miss you’d have to bet would have been rectified by now had local Commodore manufacture continued.
If all that can’t keep you out of trouble, the airbag count runs to six (dual front driver and passenger, side impact thorax/pelvis and curtain airbags).
So, the good news is, to shore up consumer confidence post-manufacturing closure, Holden has introduced a standard seven years/175,000km warranty for all new-vehicle purchases made until December 31 this year. It will be interesting to see where the brand’s warranty offering lands in 2018.
Holden’s ‘Complete Care’ program includes ‘Lifetime Capped Price Servicing’ with a first one-month inspection provided free.
Recommended service interval is nine months/15,000km, with the first four services costing $259 each, then the fifth, sixth and seventh stepping up to $319.
The SS-V Redline Ute helps end Holden local manufacturing on a high. It’s a fast, good looking, well equipped Aussie icon. Yes, the firm ride isn’t for everyone, and there some other relatively minor quibbles, but it can leave the stage with enthusiastic applause ringing in its ears.
|(base)||3.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$14,990 – 23,950||2017 HOLDEN UTE 2017 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|SS||6.2L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$34,900 – 44,990||2017 HOLDEN UTE 2017 SS Pricing and Specs|
|SS BLACK 20 EDITION||6.2L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$31,350 – 37,730||2017 HOLDEN UTE 2017 SS BLACK 20 EDITION Pricing and Specs|
|SS BLACK EDITION||6.2L, ULP, 6 SP MAN||$31,020 – 37,400||2017 HOLDEN UTE 2017 SS BLACK EDITION Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|
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