It's arguably one of the best looking V8 wagons on the market, but how does it perform with the Redline package?
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It’s easy to distinguish the SS-V Redline from regular SS-V by the new 10-spoke polished and forged 19-inch alloy wheels, red Brembo brake callipers and a red coloured ‘V’ in the rear badge.
Further technical highlights include FE3 sport suspension on the sedan, Sportwagon and Ute, along with four-piston Brembo front brakes across the SS-V Redline range.
Inside the cabin, it’s not hard to see why Holden’s Sportwagon is so popular among families and businesses. Series II revisions include Holden’s new iQ multimedia system that features an LCD touchscreen that integrates satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, reversing camera and hard disk storage system.
Instead of the conventional six-disc CD player, the Holden iQ system gives the user the ability to copy music from a CD to the iQ system’s hard disk storage for playback later on. Bluetooth connectivity comes in the form of telephone interactivity and music streaming from compatible devices. There’s also USB and auxiliary audio connectivity.
The satellite navigation system is easy and quick to use, with directions relayed to the driver’s tachometer and speedometer cluster. The driver also has the option of repeating commands via a button on the steering wheel – certainly helpful if you’re too busy watching some of the individuals we share the road with.
Despite being a little bit annoying and sometimes inaccurate, drivers can also elect to have the satellite navigation warn them of approaching speed cameras and school zones.
As you would expect from the Sportwagon, there’s plenty of front and rear leg and head room. The boot offers 895 litres of storage volume and only needs 26.8cm of space to open, meaning you can open the boot even if you are parked almost up against a wall at a shopping centre car park.
Under the bonnet of the Commodore SS-V Redline sits a 6.0-litre V8 powerplant. Producing 270kW and 530Nm of torque in six-speed manual form, power and torque are reduced to 260kW and 517Nm respectively when the six-speed automatic box is ticked to accommodate for Active Fuel Management (AFM). Strangely, despite the reduction in power, the six-speed automatic still uses more fuel at an official combined fuel consumption figure of 12.3L/100km, while the six-speed manual comes in at 12.2L/100km.
To really put the Holden Commodore Sportwagon through its paces, I loaded car with the other half and the in-laws for an extended drive. The boot was packed with gear and the air conditioning was cranked.
While the FE3 suspension is firm, it soaks up bumps with aplomb. The suspension also rebounds nicely when the car is fully loaded. Often cars with firm suspension tend to bounce back roughly when the car is full of passengers.
Equally effective is the 6.0-litre V8 engine when it comes to overtaking and getting up to speed – even with a full complement of passengers. Our test vehicle was fitted with a six-speed automatic gearbox. It always found the right gear and rarely hunted. The gearbox also features a hill gradient control that allows the car to use the engine and gearbox to help with braking.
One of the best features of the SS-V Redline over the SS and SS-V is the four-piston Brembo front brakes. The brakes not only improve braking performance, but greatly improve brake pedal feel. Where the non-Redline V8 Commodores have a spongy brake-pedal feel, the Brembo stoppers step up to the plate and patch up one of the car’s biggest downsides.
Fuel consumption over the 400km journey with passengers was 10.6L/100km, which comprised around 90 per cent highway driving. It’s a great fuel consumption figure when you consider the air conditioning was constantly running and the car was full of passengers and gear.
The SS-V Redline really comes into its element when it’s one up leading to a set of corners on a mountain climb. The six-speed automatic's Sport mode offers snappy gear changes, blips on downshift and an intelligent shift program that seldom leaves you hanging for more power. The whole package is helped with a sonorous engine note that clearly signals the car’s intentions.
Starting from $49,990 with the six-speed manual Commodore SS-V Redline Ute, the sedan and Sportwagon cost an additional $2500 over their SS-V counterparts, priced at $55,290 and $59,790 respectively.
What happens if the 270kW or 260kW SS-V Redline simply isn’t enough power for you? I know the perfect fix and it comes fully warranted from Melbourne’s Patterson Cheney Holden dealership. Not too long ago I road tested the Patterson Cheney Race Sport RS400T and RS350, this time around I jumped behind the wheel of the entry-level RS300 and RS327.
Let’s start with the RS300 ‘Stealth’ package. The RS300 ‘Stealth’ package can be fitted to any SS, SS-V or SS-V Redline. The package is priced from $1990 and comes with a custom over the radiator, RaceSport cold air intake system, fitted with a K&N air filter (measuring 514mm x 157mm x 25mm), it also comes with a custom RaceSport tune and is inclusive of the vehicle’s new car warranty.
The benefits of this package are a 30kW power and 60Nm torque increase, giving the car a lively 300kW and 590Nm of torque. Our test car was also fitted with a short shifter and fully adjustable suspension with up to 25 firmness settings for the dampers and progressive rate springs. The short shifter and adjustable suspension bump up the price an extra $3570 to $5470.
On the road, the RS300 package gives the SS-V Ute very sharp throttle response and an excellent feeling of looseness. With 300kW on board, you get the feeling of added power, but it doesn’t come with all the fanfare of its louder RaceSport siblings. It helps the car dash from 0-100km/h in just 5.3 seconds, onward to a 13.56-second quarter mile.
One of the best features is the adjustable suspension, which gives the car a brand new feel. With 25-stage firmness adjustment, the car can be completely tailored to suit the driver’s needs. The ride can go from soft and subtle to body roll-free in a matter of turns. Compliance is still retained, so the driver won’t experience any undue thuds or shocks if they hit bumps at speed.
If you feel like rolling the wick up even further, the RS327 package gives drivers even more power and torque, delivering 327kW and 630Nm of torque. The RS327 package comes with the same over-the-radiator intake as the RS300, but also gains a custom hood liner and infill panel, a custom dynamometer tune, HPC coated extractors and integrated high-flow catalytic converters, custom RaceSport stainless etched exhaust tips and lowered springs with progressive rate shock absorbers. The RS327 package is priced from $6990.
Our test vehicle was also fitted with 25-way adjustable suspension and a short-throw shifter kit, bumping the price up an additional $1490 to $8480.
Not only does the RS327 deliver better fuel economy, throttle response is even sharper with smooth and linear power delivery that can be felt throughout the rev band. The extractors give the car added raciness and ensure that onlookers know that the car has had some work done.
The short shifter kit is an excellent addition that makes the already tight six-speed manual gearbox even tighter. It gives the driver more confidence and more ability to row through the cogs quicker off the line. The RS327 package gives the car added straight-line performance too with a 0-100km/h time of 5.1 seconds and 13.26 seconds down the quarter mile.
Either way you take the Holden Commodore SS-V Redline (or any other V8 Commodore for that matter), it represents great bang for your buck. If Holden can deliver a HSV-esque liquid-injected LPG system in the near future, this could be the ultimate performance car on a budget.
The versatility of the Sportwagon also means you have a strong argument if your other half is against small sports cars.
Note: Commodore Series II (MY11) pictured, MY12 includes chrome highlights at the front and new 10-spoke 19-inch alloy wheels. For more information about the RaceSport product, click here. RaceSport RS300 in SS-V Redline Ute trim, $48,490 drive away (as tested), RaceSport RS327 in SS-V Redline Sedan trim, $62,490 drive away (as tested).