Holden’s last Commodore impresses

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Holden’s fast and fabulous claims for its last Commodore are being met.

Price: $56,190 + orc
Engine: 6.2 litre LS3 V8.
Safety: Forward collision alert, lane departure warning, Brembo performance brakes.
Economy: 12.9L/100km

Soon after the reveal of the last Commodore of its kind – the VFII – Holden invited the Australasian motoring press to sample the complete range on a full day’s drive through the Barossa Valley.

The highlight was the chance to put the SSV Redline model to the test up the historic Collingrove hillclimb, near Angaston.

Collingrove, which opened in 1952, is the second-oldest, continuously-run motor sport facility in Australia. On private property and only three or so metres wide, the track snakes its way up and over some 750 metres of lush grazing land.

Rear view of a Holden Commodore
Holden Commodore wheels
Engine view of a Holden Commodore
Holden motor vehicles
Side view of a Holden Commodore

Challenging course

It’s considered one of the most challenging and best of its type anywhere. Just the place, then, to thoroughly interrogate the quickest, most powerful and most advanced factory version of the Commodore that Holden says will ever be built.

At its heart is a 6.2-litre LS3 from the iconic Chevrolet Corvette, an engine new to all V8 VFII models. Pumping out 304kW of power at 6000rpm and 570Nm of torque at 4400rpm, the LS3 is capable of 0-100kmh in 4.9 seconds.

After a sighting drive up the hill in convoy, it was down to business with one car at a time on the track being timed electronically. Informed (home track) opinion suggested the Redline might be able to crack the 40 seconds barrier.

For a maximum attack, the idea was to stab the ESC button twice, bring up the revs and step off the brake. With a chirp from the 20” rear rubber, the Redline boomed away.

Handling dynamics

Holding second gear for the entire run enabled the LS3’s fat torque curve to be optimised, with the big V8 grunting out of the tight turns and curves. The Redline puts its power down efficiently and emphatically, but Sport mode allows a playful amount of slippage at the rear wheels under full throttle.

“It’s here on this sinuous strip of blacktop that validation of the claimed handling dynamics afforded by a redesign of the rear suspension stabiliser bar, along with a reduction in the rear spring rate and retuned dampers, can be felt through the seat of your pants,” RACV’s Manager Vehicle Engineering Michael Case said.

“And the addition of Brembo performance brakes all-round has empowered the Redline with the ‘whoa’ to match the ‘go’. On our two runs, we only needed to give the ‘stoppers’ a short, sharp workout, but we know their powerful endurance is such that they would undoubtedly go a full track day without complaint,” Michael said.

The other major upgrade to the VFII – introduction of a bi-modal exhaust with mechanical sound enhancer – also gets a big tick of approval.

In just two runs each, most drivers not only beat the benchmarked 40 seconds, but some got into the 36 seconds bracket. The claim of “quickest, most powerful and most advanced” Commodore certainly rings true.

Safety features

  • 5-star ANCAP safety rating
  • Forward collision alert
  • Rear view camera
  • Blind spot alert
  • Reverse traffic alert
  • Lane departure warning
  • Brembo performance brakes
  • ISOFIX rear child seat restraint anchorages
  • A sound performance

The final Holden Commodore VFII also has the best soundtrack. Holden has introduced a bi-modal exhaust which bypasses part of the rear muffler when activated. The sound has also been tuned and further amplified into the cabin through an exhaust tip known as the Baillie Tip designed by Holden engineer David Baillie (who sadly passed away from Leukemia).

With the bi-modal exhaust inactive (it can be turned on with the centre touch screen) the exhaust note is subdued and refined. When on, it remains relatively quiet until the throttle is pressed harder, then it progresses from an unmistakable pleasant but serious V8 burble to a glorious, full blooded bellow followed by crackling and popping when you back off the throttle. An addictive classic V8 soundtrack engineered to greatly appeal to faithful last time buyers of the Commodore.

* More RACV road tests and car reviews.

Written by Barry Green
January 04, 2016