Holden Commodore SS-V Redline is a range-topping sports sedan offers talented and entertaining motoring
The new Commodore SS-V Redline is the icing on Holden’s performance car cake, with the manufacturer throwing everything it has from its catalogue to ensure that it eclipses not only its predecessors and rivals, but other models in the VF line up.
What we like:
• Ride and handling compromise
• Fun factor
• Exhaust note
• Head up display
Not so much:
• Quality niggles
• Rear view camera quality
• Head light output
• Lack of “Redline” badging
• Excess number of interior colours, trims and surfaces.
• Temperamental climate control
Price and Equipment
The SSV Redline is Holden’s flagship not only in terms of performance, but also comfort and technology-Calais and Caprice aside. A brilliant colour heads up display, a BOSE stereo, reversing camera, Holden’s MyLink multimedia system with Pandora and Sticher apps, Brembo brakes, park assist, forward collision alert, lane departure warning and of course a 6.0 litre Gen IV alloy V8 are standard fare. It should be noted at this point that the test car was fitted with the optional six speed automatic (which reduces power to 260kW as to 270kW in the manual version) and a boot lid spoiler.
Redbook quotes the standard price of the SS-V Redline automatic as $56,190 but Holden dealers are often open to considerable negotiation.
Holden deserves praise for designing an interior space that is refreshingly modern, comfortable and constructed from quality materials that has never been seen in an Australian made car.
Design cues and switchgear have been borrowed from throughout the General Motors family-there is even a hint of Cadillac in the overall design. The MyLink infotainment screen dominates the centre stack. This system can be operated by voice control and other buttons on the chunky flat-bottomed steering wheel.
The navigation with live updates and detailed maps can be activated by voice control, allowing the driver to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
The colour heads up display is initially perceived as distracting, however, this system is actually very helpful, providing all vital information, including posted speed limits and navigation instructions directly in one’s line of vision. Drivers can also choose between a number of different layouts with one even including a g-metre, not that you’d be using that often-if ever-on public roads.
The heavily bolstered, body hugging and leather-wrapped front chairs are comfortable, whilst holding one firmly in place during spirited driving and on twisty roads.
Similarly, the backseat is equally comfortable and there is ample leg, shoulder and headroom in part thanks to a generous wheel base of 2915mm and a well thought out roofline. The boot is also enormous at 496 litres.
But, the praise for the interior stops there. The overall design is refreshingly modern, yet there are simply too many colours, textures and materials.
The dashboard and door trims are covered in no less than five different materials, including a liberal application of a rather awful faux carbon fibre-which presumably is a nod to the car’s athletic prowess. It is an avoidance of grey and drab to the extreme.
Although the seats and ergonomics are very comfortable, it was difficult to find a desirable setting on the climate control system and, we noticed a marked difference between 25 degrees (cold) and 26 degrees (sweltering).
Fit and finish is generally better than previous models, but our test car had noticeable and ugly welds in the front door frames, one of the side panels of the centre console decided to detach itself and the trim near the base of the rear seat decided to lift itself away from the frame.
Moreover, the headlights offered minimal assistance during night driving and didn’t have any form of adjustment.
These quality issues may have since been addressed, as our test car was an early production example.
Engine and Transmission:
At the heart of almost every big muscle car is a big, torquey V8. And under bonnet of the Redline beats a 6.0 litre OHV V8 with active fuel management that chucks out 260kW @5600rpm and a stump pulling 517Nm @ 4400rpm. As aforementioned, the test car was fitted with the 6-speed Automatic Transmission with Active Select.
The pair make for a smooth and refined duo during moderate acceleration. The Redline never feels snappy or intimidates with its power and torque. Rather, it has a surprisingly easy going nature and encourages performance driving while snorting, snarling and roaring towards the horizon if the driver has that intention.
Gear changes are smooth and almost seamless during moderate progress, but the transmission can become sloppy and even clunky when momentum becomes seriously brisk.
Holden quotes a combined fuel consumption of 11.8 litres per 100 kilometres, however we found 13.5 litres on an urban cycle to be more realistic, despite the cylinder shut off active fuel management technology.
Interestingly for a V8 brute, the trip computer encourages you to drive as frugally as possible, with a “best score” and average fuel use plotted on a graph. Our best score during test was 11.5 litres/100 kilometres.
Ride and Handling:
It is often thought that a car with sports-biased handling often has a harsh and compromised ride. The Redline delivers the contrary. The ride from the FE3 sports suspension is taut but wonderfully compliant, never transmitting any imperfections to the rumps of the passengers, even on the roughest and most poorly surfaced of Melbourne roads.
The handling is equally brilliant, with twists, bends and camber changes on mountain roads digested with poise and reassuring confidence. Those quad-exhausts also emit a delicious bark when powering out of such corners.
Steering is electrically assisted but admittedly heavy, but it does a commendable job of communicating as to where the front wheels are at all times through that satisfyingly chunky flat-bottomed steering wheel.
The brakes-Brembos on the front-work quickly to wash off kinetic energy although pedal feel was a little soft.
A “Competitive Mode” that relaxes the traction control and sharpens steering and throttle responses as well as incorporating launch control is ideal for drivers who want to clock some serious lap times on the track. Sadly, we were restricted to public roads during the test weeks so we were unable to accurately assess this function.
Auto parking and parking sensors help navigate the big sedan into the most awkward of spaces.
Safety and Servicing:
Holden spruiks that the VF Commodore is its most advanced yet; from a safety standpoint, this is a difficult point to argue.
All models are awarded the maximum ANCAP five star safety rating and the Redline has front, side and curtain airbags as standard, along with blind spot assist, collision avoidance technology, a rear reversing camera-that is projected onto the large centre display. The camera picture may be large, but the picture is ambiguous and pixelated. A clever rear traffic that detects pedestrians when reversing.
Traction control, anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake force distribution, electronic brake assistance and electronic stability control do their best to ensure the Commodore is out of harm’s way.
Servicing is scheduled at every 15,000 kilometres or every nine months, whichever occurs first. Capped priced servicing applies for the first four services or 60,000 kilometres and each serviced is capped at $185.
Holden Commodore SS-V Redline Specs
Make and model: Holden Commodore SS-V Redline
Engine type: 6.0 litre, generation IV V8 with active fuel management (AFM).
Power: 260kW @ 5600rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel consumption: 11.8L/100km combined cycle
Dimensions: 4966mm long, 1898mm wide, 1471mm high and 2915mm wheelbase
Suspension: Front: McPherson strut with STD stabiliser bar Rear: Independent multi-link rear suspension with rear STD stabiliser bar.
Steering: Electrically assisted rack and pinion