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19 July 2013 - 00:00

Review: VF Commodore SS-V Redline

By JAMES CLEARY

So, what is it?
It's the performance flagship of Holden's new VF Commodore range. The stonking 260kW/517Nm 6.0-litre V8 is unchanged from the SS-V just below it, but this SS-V Redline picks up the carefully honed FE3 suspension tune, fatter rear rubber, and a premium fit-out. It's available in sedan, wagon and ute variants.

Why should I care?
Previously, Redline was an option 'pack', but stands as a distinct model in the VF line-up. Holden is keen to give it a strong identity, and for those with performance, including the occasional track day in mind, the SS-V Redline delivers spectacular bang for your bucks.

What's new about it?
The FE3 sports suspension package has been revised with bigger anti-roll bars, plus upgraded dampers, working in combination with the VF's new alloy steering components. Other big news is the lighter, forged rims have been ‘split'; that is the front wheels are 19x8.0, shod with 245/40 Z-rated Bridgestones, while the rears are now 19x9.0, wearing a wider (275/35) pair of the same ultra-high-performance Potenzas.

As well, the driver-selectable ‘Competitive Mode' adjusts the electric power steering and stability control to optimise circuit performance. Holden claims the previous VE Redline's sustained maximum lateral G number of .88, has been raised to .93 for the new car.

That's all nice. What's it like to drive fast?
The fact Holden Vehicle Dynamics Engineer, Rob Trubiani, recently drove a VF Commodore SS-V Redline Ute around the epic Nurburgring layout in 08:19.47 speaks volumes. That's faster than some well-credentialed exotic machinery, and the car delivers brilliantly on the track. Balanced and responsive with superb steering and sensational (Brembo) brakes. Holden's claimed a mid-five second 0-100km/h time.

And driving from home to the office in the city?
Far from a track-day special, the Redline is a refined commuter, with Calais levels of tech and premium features. The big Gen IV V8 burbles quietly around town, but rest-assured it howls like a wolf as revs rise. The six-speed manual transmission is positive, without requiring a hairy-chested shove, and the six-speed auto is silky smooth.

How much would I have to pay for one? And is it worth the coin?
Entry point is $48,990 for the manual ute, with the sedan costing $2500 more. For that, you pick up a laundry list of standard equipment including a colour head-up display, Forward Collision Alert, lane Departure Warning, passive entry with push-button start (auto only) , nine-speaker Bose audio (sedan only, sunroof (sedan only), eight inch colour, multi-function touch screen, sat-nav, dual zone climate-control, power adjustable driver's seat (sedan and wagon only), and partial leather trim. That's a whole lot of performance and fruit for 50-odd grand.

Is there anything bad about it?
Nothing major; the drivetrain, dynamics, fit, finish and value are pretty much all-good. Maybe not the best choice if you're worried about fuel economy, as the claimed (combined) figure is 11.5L/100km, paddle shifters on the auto (as fitted to the US export version) would be nice, and the polished alloys won't be to everyone's taste.

Would you take this or the Falcon?
The real competitor for this car is FPV's 315kW/545Nm, 5.0-litre, supercharged V8 GS, and all of a sudden the VF Commodore has but a big gap on the blue oval competition. The Commodore is definitely the go.

So what would you give the SS-V Redline out of 10, then?
Eight. The term world-class is used too often, but despite the hint of cultural cringe, we're going to apply it to the SS-V Redline ... an absolute cracker.

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