by Daniel DeGasperi

Wearing Victorian number plates on its tailgate, the Holden VF Commodore SS V ute has been caught testing at the famous Nurburgring circuit, in Germany.

Only a month out from its official Australian launch, the Holden VF Commodore – which won’t be exported to Germany, but may be sold in limited numbers to Vauxhall in the UK – is seen here completely undisguised in its final round of dynamic tweaking.


Holden communication director Craig Cheetham confirmed that an Australian Holden engineer – with official Nurburgring driving certification – was behind the wheel of the SS V ute, but cautioned not to read into the prospect of the ute being exported to Europe.

“Holden tests its new vehicles all over the world, often in conjunction with the global GM engineering community. This week, there are a number of industry pool days where various manufacturers do track-based testing, and our engineers are involved in some final dynamic testing of VF,” said Cheetham.


Confirmed to utilise the same 6.0-litre V8 engine used in the VE – not the 6.2-litre that will go into the otherwise identical Chevrolet SS sedan exported to the US – the SS V will continue to be available in sedan, Sportwagon and the ute shown here.

While neither the Holden VF Commodore ute or Sportwagon will benefit from the lighter aluminium bootlid of the sedan, all VF models will score an aluminium bonnet to save weight, and help improve economy. All models will also switch from using hydraulic mechanical power steering to an electro-mechanical set-up for the first time, which is claimed by some to same around 0.1L/100km.


The 3.0-litre V6 engine will continue lightly tweaked in the entry-level Omega-replacement, rumoured to be called ‘Evoke’, while the middle grade Berlina will, after 29 years of continuous service, be dropped from the Commodore line-up. The 3.6-litre will also stay in the SV6 and Calais models, and all six-speed automatic transmissions will come in for an overhaul, with a redesigned Sport mode and new Performance Mode Lift Foot (PMLF) function that holds lower gears when a hill is detected, or when the throttle is lifted during spirited driving.

Holden engineers admit that they have learnt from the mistakes of calibrating the VE Commodore automatic for ‘ideal’ economy, because it sorely affected real-world driveability by regularly dropping into tall gears then hunting for a lower gear on hills.


No doubt the performance of the automatic, and the new electric steering, are the focal points in the Holden VF Commodore at the Nurburgring program, as the basic chassis components are mostly unchanged compared with the seven-year-old VE generation.

The Holden VF Commodore will be officially on sale in June – coincidentally the same month the hugely successful VT Commodore went on-sale in 1997 – with the first-drive embargo lifting for the motoring media on May 30.

  • supercujo

    This is a wise decision. After saying that they will be laying off 500 workers last week, they have spent a ton of money sending cars and people to Germany to test a ute on the Nurburgring. Let them go broke

    • Ed

      get off the drugs mate.

    • James

      So true. And thus is just embarrassing. Seeing a Holden ute at the ring is like seeing Kath & Kim at Buckingham Palace.

      • Tom

        I didn’t think cultural cringe existed anymore in Australia. The fact is, car enthusiasts around the world are very intrigued when they encounter our cars, I mean, what other country makes sports utes like our Commodore and Falcon? Seriously, there are none.

        • Dave W

          Why the heck do they need to test a bloody ute in Nurburgring? If Top Gear wasn’t enough to advertise our ute in the world market, this ain’t
          gonna do jacksh!t.

    • Will

      Agreed, and this is a promo. The thing is a dinosaur, and buy an Australian knocked up machine to pay off US Dept…LOL!!!

      • Karl Sass

        What other commercial vehicle would you recommend, a Renalt Kangoo?

    • MC

      Firstly, the ute was already in Spain doing some calibration work and more testing and they tagged on the Camaro and Corvette tests. They also had just one mechanic, one driver, limited tools and no spare parts, they had 3 sets of tyres and only 2 timed fast laps.

      Secondly, for a manufacturer to make a quality product they have to test around the world in different and extreme conditions (conditions that Australia simply dont have).

      Thirdly, its not like your not receiving or have received help from the government, so get off your high horse.

  • Piy

    I hope this drums up support for a ute export. lol

  • San Vittorino

    Omega was a bad enough change, now they’re changing it to Evoke? Bleurgh

    • Force-15

      What the heck is so evocative about the base VF anyway? It was panned (in terms of aesthetics at least) when spy-shots were posted 1-2 months ago. I also hope that the chrome door-handles on the ute pictured can be deleted too.

  • quivive

    My guess – an HSV mule testing brakes and suspension.
    Looks like a Holden Cruise!

  • JoeR_AUS

    Well after reading about SUV’ and eco boxes makes a change reading about the Commodore and getting a run around the ring and the commitment to real drivers not just people stuck in cars because they have to.

  • Barry

    Wpw hope we get a video at some stage.

  • Cars

    Why are caradvice logos all over the photos? Did CA capture them or buy them?
    If not it looks a lot like copyright infringement.

  • Peanut

    The truth is the Engineer was testing the Satnav.
    He typed in Bathurst.
    I think they have a few more kinks to work out.

    • Westie

      So they’re extending the Siri software from the top Barina to include Apple Maps, then?

  • Martin

    I wish Holden at least update the tail lights. You’ll never pick this or the wagon in traffic. Disappointing really.

    • Tien

      It just looks like any other VE from behind
      Should of been a VE Series III

      • MC

        Porsche should have a Porsche 911 series 10000 since they havent bothered updating its style since the 60’s.

  • Cl1FF0

    Gettin it sideways bro!

  • Roadtard

    Hit with the ugly stick! Hate the “update”.

  • Tom

    I have to say I wasn’t a massive fan of the VF SS front at first, but it’s definitely growing on me.

  • MisterZed

    The VT Commodore actually went on sale in August 1997, not June.

    • GTuck

      Yes! I remember going to see the VT at a Holden dealer the same day as Princess Diana’s funeral, which was at the beginning of September I think. Funny the things you remember…

      • MisterZed

        The first one I saw was when I was in a bus returning from a school camp, also in September of that year.

  • Karl Sass

    I bet this had the Germans doing a double take lol

  • Bad news

    I’ve got to say i love it!

  • Dieseltorque

    Great to read Americans will pay less for a 6.2 SS than we pay for a 6.0 SS. I hope they have fixed the build quality but after owning a few Holden’s over time I doubt this will be the case. Saving 0.1 of a litre is certainly not music to my ears and they still have carryover dull engines that in the V6’s case sound pretty horrible. Wonder if we can get a lap time posted?

  • Andy Whitby

    Please please Holden ad a delete chrome option !

  • Zaccy16

    Very lazy not to change the rear end, why would you update from a ve to a vf if its basically the same?

    • Tom

      Lazy? It would’ve cost them $2 million to change them apparently, money that they don’t have. It’s also interesting you’ve never said anything of the like about the Volkswagen Golf whose design has barely changed with the latest update or at all in the last 10 years. Besides, the rears of the both the VE Ute and the Sportwagon are very good anyway, they have not dated at all since release.

    • Menco

      They have done the same with every model from vn-vp, vr-vs, vt-vx, vy-vz and now ve-vf. There won’t be an overhaul for another couple of years, that’s if they are even still making them by then.

  • Al Tungupon

    If this were real, I wonder how many times it has spun around the notorious circuit.

  • HSV1

    Looks dated already. :(

  • qikturbo

    I could understand if they were testing the GTS or R8 but a ute !?!.Waste of money.

  • nugsdad

    They brought a ute there to pick up the bits that fell off the sedan