I purchased a 2016 manual SS Black edition commodore in September 2016, and have owned it for just 6 weeks. With Holden shutting the doors for manufacturing in Australia soon, I couldn’t help but feel like I would be missing out one of the best cars Australia has ever made had I decided against purchasing the Commodore.
This car is perhaps the last performance V8 sports sedan that we are likely to see. With the current trend for manufacturers to downsize engine capacity, and instead implement turbochargers to increase power and fuel economy, the V8 that Aussies have come to love will soon only be reserved for high spec euro performance vehicles with very few exceptions.
With the confirmation that Holden will be using a V6 motor on an AWD platform in its next generation commodore SS, Australians have only until the end of next year to purchase the last true commodore.
As it stands today the SS black edition featured in my review can be had for just a touch under fifty grand drive away, and for a car that produces 304 kW of power, thats a serious bargain for a new car no matter how you look at it.
The revisions that holden has made to the VF Commodore have transformed it into a well established sports performance sedan. So what’s all the fuss about in the new series II commodore in comparison to the old one? For a start this car has serious character.
Turn on this car and you might mistake yourself for sitting in a HSV Clubsport, not that you would be too far off however, as holden has used the same 6.2 litre LS3 engine that HSV are still using in some of its Clubsport models and the GTS before that.
The engine now sounds like a proper V8, and the very audible cracks and pops that the Commodore makes, tempts you to drive in a manner that would perhaps tip you well over that quoted fuel economy figure of 12.9 L/100 km.
As for the aesthetics of the car, the series II Commodore has a more aggressive front facia, with bonnet vents up front, but not a whole lot of changes up the back for the sedan model. The Black edition package provides a compelling argument over the SSV or SSV Redline in terms of value.
For just $1000 in price difference between it and the base commodore, the black edition comes with a complete blackout package, with the chrome trims, spoiler, wheels and even the tail lamps, replaced with a black counterpart. When paired with the heron white paint in my commodore, the contrast between the black and white gives the car a great touch.
Inside the cabin the black edition receives a heads-up display, satellite navigation and red stitching in the seats, again giving the Commodore just that touch of extra character.
The SSV fetches about a $2500 premium over the Black edition, and includes full leather seats and 19 inch over 18 inch wheels, but does not include the blackout package. If you’re looking for that bit extra in your commodore, the SSV Redline makes a better argument as an extra $8000 will get you Staggered 19 inch wheels, a Brembo brake package, stiffer suspension, and a sunroof as well as some added safety tech.
As tempting as that sounds, the recommended retail price of your commodore (should you opt for the blackout package as well) will start to stretch closer to sixty grand and pushing the realms of what some might consider affordable.
The Cabin of the big Commodore is spacious and comfortable, but we all know that. Perhaps what is more important are those day to day things that you always notice or perhaps don’t in some cases. After a couple weeks in this commodore I’ve now suddenly seemed to have forgotten that the tachometer behind the steering wheel even exists, thanks to that heads-up display.
But perhaps the biggest gripe in the commodore is the electronic handbrake. Clearly in an age where manual transmissions are a near extinct species, the designers at holden have missed the mark with the handbrake. I’v observed that attempting a hill start will result in two outcomes; rolling back too far, or the car will stall against the handbrake. The infotainment system is the same MyLink system found in the series I VF commodore, and is starting to show some age. Its a decent little unit but is slow at times.
The bimodal exhaust function is toggled in the my link menus, and is a handy tool to have should you be arriving home late and don’t wish to wake the neighbours. Fail to do so however, and you might wake up to find your car covered in eggs, or worse.
All in all, the 2016 Black Edition is a bargain. Rear wheel drive V8 manuals are a dying breed, so if you would like to own one within your lifetime, I think this may well be your last chance.