Incremental changes for 2015 mean the flagship Commodore SS-V variant is going out with a bang. Or is there more to come?
Base price: $74,490.
Powertrain and performance: 6.0-litre petrol V8, 260kW/517Nm, 6-speed automatic, rear-drive, Combined economy 11.8 litres per 100km.
Vital statistics: 4966mm long, 1471mm high, 2915mm wheelbase, luggage capacity 496 litres, fuel tank 71 litres, 19-inch alloy wheels on 245/40 front and 275/35 rear tyres.
We like: Sensational handling, high-tech driver-assistance features.
We don’t like: Clumsy steering wheel, hard plastics in cabin.
How it rates: 9/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? It’s tempting to say that we’re experiencing the last hurrah for Commodore every time a tweaked version comes out. The reality is that although there is now just two years to go for Holden’s all-Australian sedan, the brand has never hesitated in cranking out special editions at short notice.
So let’s just say that the 2015 Commodore SS-V Redline is the latest and best version of Holden’s home-grown muscle car.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? It’s also quite tempting to call the SS-V Redline a muscle car, because it’s the flagship of Holden’s V8 performance-car range (if you exclude the HSV lineup, because it’s separate).
But that would be doing the Redline a disservice because it has evolved far beyond that. It’s a very sophisticated performance car and something of a triumph for the Australian (for now) carmaker.
The Redline is based on the SS-V, which is already a very well-equipped car. But in the interests of turning it into a proper track-day machine, Holden has given the Redline specific steering calibration, a bespoke state of suspension tune, a special performance mode for the stability control, Brembo brakes and even a staggered tyre setup: 245/50 at the front and 275/35 at the rear.
After that lot, the new-model changes are going to seem trite. The 2015-edition Redline gets paddle shifters, new-design alloy wheels and some trim changes.
It remains a magnificent machine. The 260kW/517Nm 6.0-litre engine still doesn’t sound like a V8 should, but it propels the Redline to 100km/h in 5.5 seconds in automatic-transmission form. Our autocentric market means we don’t really see the manual version, which has even more power and torque (270kW/530Nm).
It never feels like anything other than a big car, partly due to its curiously large steering wheel and partly due to the fact that it is a really big car. But it is beautifully composed in the corners, with a blend of engaging handling and completely acceptable ride quality on bumpy backroads – something that both Holden and Ford have certainly mastered over the years with their V8 hero models.
It goes around corners, it stops: the Redline is a virtuoso effort and really does comparison with European sports models in terms of driving dynamics.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? Where the Redline might not stand up to more expensive rivals is in the cabin. The VF is Holden’s best Commodore effort yet, but you can’t hide the fact that there’s a taxi lurking under there. The architecture is inelegant in places and while there’s plenty of garnish, such as the pseudo-suede insert on the passenger-side dashboard panel, it’s obvious there’s some hard plastic lurking around the place.
However, the SS-V Redline’s level of technology and equipment is outstanding. It’s fully loaded, with a colour head-up display that details everything down to cornering g-force (bit distracting to be honest), forward collision alert, lane departure and blind-spot warning. It’ll even park itself if you want or need that feature.
SHOULD I BUY ONE? You absolutely should. The Aussie V8 remains a unique proposition and it just so happens that the Redline offers all of that heritage and character with a chassis package that’s very sophisticated indeed. It’s potentially the best of both worlds.
It’s so tempting to say that this is the ultimate incarnation of the Commodore SS – but that remains to be seen. Stay tuned.
- Blind spot warning: Yes
- Lane guidance: Yes
- Cruise control: Yes
- Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes
- Parking radar: Yes with camera
- Self-parking technology: Yes
- Head-up display: Yes
- Satellite navigation: Yes
- Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes
- Stop-start: No
- Air conditioning: Dual climate
- Heated/ventilated seats: Yes/No
- Power seat adjustment/memory: Yes/No
- Leather upholstery: Yes
- Power boot or tailgate: No
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