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Holden SSV Redline Ute 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
8
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 Holden SS-V Redline Ute.

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
Safety rating
Engine Type6.2L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency12.3L/100km
Seating2 seats
Price from$46,990

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

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.

Designers ha added a wider, lower grille, bonnet vents, and revised ducting on the front corners to improve aero performance. (image credit: James Cleary) Designers ha added a wider, lower grille, bonnet vents, and revised ducting on the front corners to improve aero performance. (image credit: James Cleary)

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.

The standard black sports bar completes a purposeful, borderline menacing look of the SSV. (image credit: James Cleary) The standard black sports bar completes a purposeful, borderline menacing look of the SSV. (image credit: James Cleary)

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).

How practical is the space inside?   9/10

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.

  • Head, leg and shoulder room measurements are identical to those in the front of the sedan and wagon. (image credit: James Cleary) Head, leg and shoulder room measurements are identical to those in the front of the sedan and wagon. (image credit: James Cleary)
  • There’s enough storage space behind the seats to hold a small (35-litre) suitcase on either side. (image credit: James Cleary) There’s enough storage space behind the seats to hold a small (35-litre) suitcase on either side. (image credit: James Cleary)

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.

With the load cover there is 2064 litres of space. (image credit: James Cleary) With the load cover there is 2064 litres of space. (image credit: James Cleary)

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

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.

Both Apple CarPlay or Android Auto are missing from the 8.0-inch colour multimedia touchscreen. (image credit: James Cleary) Both Apple CarPlay or Android Auto are missing from the 8.0-inch colour multimedia touchscreen. (image credit: James Cleary)

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.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

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.

Originally designed to power the C6 Corvette in the late noughties, HSV first borrowed the LS3 engine, before Holden adopted it for V8 versions of the Commodore and Caprice in 2015.

The 6.2-litre LS3 V8 produces 304kW/570Nm. (image credit: James Cleary) The 6.2-litre LS3 V8 produces 304kW/570Nm. (image credit: James Cleary)

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.

All that grunt flows to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox, or six-speed auto transmission, with a limited slip differential standard.

How much fuel does it consume?   6/10

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 it like to drive?   8/10

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 SS-V Redline performance flagship copping new 19-inch alloys. (image credit: James Cleary) The SS-V Redline performance flagship copping new 19-inch alloys. (image credit: James Cleary)

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.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / 100,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

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).

ANCAP rates the SS-V Redline Ute a maximum five stars, however, while there’s a top-tether anchor point for a child seat (on the passenger side, of course), ISOFIX location is MIA.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   9/10

Normally, the SS-V Redline Ute would be covered by Holden’s three year/100,000km warranty, which pales into stinginess when you think about Kia’s market-leading seven years/unlimited km cover.

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.

Verdict

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.

Tell us your best Holden ute story in the comments section below.

Pricing Guides

$39,270
Based on 97 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$14,990
Highest Price
$67,888

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(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
EXPERT RATING
8
Design8
Practicality9
Price and features8
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption6
Driving8
Safety8
Ownership9
James Cleary
Deputy Editor

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Pricing Guide

$46,990

Lowest price, based on 19 car listings in the last 6 months

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