This is the Holden’s last Australian-built Holden Commodore and in many ways that’s an incredibly sad milestone for the company and the country. The good news is that door closes on one hell of an impressive car.
For decades Holden fans across the country have been inspired by the successes in Motorsport and tried to improve the performance of their own Commodore’s with after market upgrades. The delicious thing about this version is that the performance is from the factory and therefore all under warranty.
The 2017 VFII SSV Redline is the top of the line for Holden, unless you step up to the even more ludicrous HSV brand for more vents and more horses for a fairly large jump in dollars. To be honest the power in this car is way more than anyone normal road-going driver needs.
The car features 19″ rims (20″ option), Brembo brakes, leather stitched interior and projector headlights as well as an 8″ touchscreen and 9-Speaker Bose Audio system.. but lets be brutally honest, none of that matters. Its what’s under the hood, that’s the reason you’re going to buy this car.
Pop the hood and you’ll find relatively tame engine bay, covered by plenty of plastic shrouds.. but what lies beneath is a massive 6.2L LS3 V8 engine and forget about the stereo, this car has sound track that’ll put a smile on your face again and again and again.
The power delivery is available immediately and unlike most cars, you can continue to call for more and it never runs out. There’s usually a point in most cars where you’re throttle position exceeds the car’s ability to keep up and you wait.. but that simply doesn’t happen with the Redline. What lives under the driver’s right foot is lost by many passive observers on the street, but as the driver, you’ll cruise with a subtle grin in the knowledge that at any stage you could call on the car and its ready to surge forward with purpose and push your head back into the headrest.
The 6-speed gearbox is connected to a short-throw shifter to minimise change times and maximize power delivery. If you’re fast, you’ll able to pull a sub 4.9 second 0-100km time.
Features & Technology
Easily one of the best features in this car is the heads up display. This lets you keep your eyes on the road while keeping you informed. There’s a fairly decent array of options you can select from.
Naturally there’s your current speed which saves you from looking down to the instrument cluster, which may not sound like much, but it truly was a revolution to the driving experience. You can also see the current speed zone where available, as well as the external temperature, the geforces (positive only) and RPM which is great for hitting your shift points in the manual.
The transparency is adjustable to suit personal preference, available from a dial near the driver’s right hand. Holden certainly isn’t the first auto maker to include a HUD, but it is one of the best implementations. The digital display is projected directly onto the windscreen in pretty fantastic clarity.
Other benefits of the HUD include navigation prompts and confirmation of cruise control speed. The nav implementation is great, when an upcoming turn is approaching (requires destination to be set on the in-car navigation system, there’s a very nice progress bar that reduces as you approach the corner. This enables the driver to be confident they’re making the right turn, even if voice prompts were turned off.
Holden MyLink Infotainment System with 8″ Colour Touch-Screen
Like most auto-makers, Holden are currently in a middle ground between announcing their support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the delivery of it in each of their vehicles.
Unfortunately this car hasn’t yet handed the keys to Apple and Google. Instead drivers and passengers will interact with Holden’s own MyLink Infotainment system on an 8″ touch-screen.
The system supports embedded apps such as Pandora and Sticher Radio, as well as the standard Bluetooth music streaming and call integration.
The car also features satellite navigation which is actually a massive disappointment. While the visuals are fine, everything else is very, very broken. Its 2017, so you should expect a phone or tablet like experience in the car, but interacting with maps was slow, really slow and standard multi-touch gestures aren’t supported. While you can press a button on the steering wheel and yell commands at it, you’re really just wasting time as the accuracy is horrible and almost always failed to understand me and get an address correct. I’m talking 1 in 10 tries would be successful, just absolutely unacceptable.
This leaves you with really only one way to input an address and that’s by either tapping the letters on the screen, or turning the dial to tune through the qwerty keyboard, pushing down to accept. While this will get the job done, its an infuriating input process and one severely beaten by any modern smartphone platform. If only Holden had the same level of focus on infotainment that they did under the hood, this may have not resulted in a dumpster fire that is MyLink.
To be honest, this will be resolved with support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but we don’t yet have a date for the upgrade to arrive for all vehicles.
With an ANCAC rating of 5, Holden have also focused on including a range of safety technology in the car. There’s forward collision alert, lane departure warning and a blind spot warning. As good as each of these are, a disappointing omission is adaptive cruise control. While getting alerts about cars ahead of you or beside you are great, having technology to take control of the braking, or steering wheel if you don’t, is a far safer option and frankly expected at this price point.
The Commodore exterior has been a very iterative process. This model absolutely plays to the strengths of what fans know and love. Sure this one has some nice extras, like fins in the bonnet to let the big V8 breathe, articulate air ducts in the front bar that aren’t easy to clean, but help achieve a more aggressive look. There’s also a couple of slices in the front quarter panels that borrows from the styling of the HSV range, but these are actually just nice to look at and not functional in any way other than holding the turning indicator.
Overall its a good looking car that’s built to appeal to the masses. The designers have done a great job at keeping traditionalists happy, while moving the styling forward without being offensive. Perhaps it was the subtle grey we had on the review unit, but it was the noise that turned heads, not the appearance. Those who select a bolder green, blue or red will likely have a different experience.
If you’re considering buying this car for a daily driver, then you should be aware that big V8 under the bonnet is a thirsty bugger. Around town, expect to see average fuel consumption around 12-14L/100k, take it for a trip down the Hume Hwy and you’ll see that number drop to below 10. The best I managed was 8.8L/100km, helped by the 6th gear.
If you’re in the market for this level of V8 performance, these numbers won’t shock you as your priorities are found in the performance section, rather than the economy.
While there’s lots to love about the car, its definitely not flawless. Holden’s post-Australian development would be served well to address these short comings in future vehicles.
- Car is completely wasted in the city, around town.
- Metal hot on steering wheel
- No Android Auto / Apple CarPlay
- Lane departure warning should be lane guidance
- Speed zones on HUD not always accurate
- Parking sensors can be overly sensitive in Garage.
Price and Available
The car is available now, but this level of performance doesn’t come cheap. After on-roads you’ll pay $61,692 in Victoria. That’s around double the entry level Commodore, so its easy to see this car is targeted at those who want performance and are prepared to pay up for it. There’s actually a crazy number of accessories available for it, which you can select during checkout. While you get plenty of options for exterior colours, there is only one option, albeit a good one, on interior colours.
What a car, seriously the guys and girls at Holden, please take a bow. To bow out on this car is a massive high note. There’s plenty to love about this car, but like I said at the start, the reason you buy this car is for the performance from that massive V8. If you need it to, it’ll happily get you down to the shops to grab the groceries, but its far more at home on a road trip, just make sure you take the scenic route through the twisty stuff.