Well another week with ‘Big Blue’ and I’m slowly unravelling some of the intricacies of the Active Fuel Management V8, not all of them flattering, I must say.
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- David Twomey

In my previous report I mentioned the power output figures for the previous SS V8, which some people took to be the figures for our current car, but in fact we didn’t have the power figures for the AFM V8 at the time.

As soon as I drove the car I have to say I felt it was down on power compared to previous SS V8s I’d driven and I also got the same feedback from my colleague Paul Maric after he briefly drove the car to do some photography with it.

A check of the GM Holden Media Site proved our suspicions and the AFM V8 is a full 10 kilowatts down on the engine, which is now fitted to the six-speed manual gearbox car, which has the 270kW and 530Nm that I previously referred to.

The six-speed automatic SSV8 AFM makes 260kW of power and produces a reduced 517Nm of torque, so you would expect those reductions alone to lead to some reasonable increase in fuel efficiency!

Not so it seems as we are still struggling, despite all manner of careful driving to achieve anything like a real reduction in fuel consumption.

Another week of driving has seen the odometer rise to a total of 3625 kilometres, which means I managed to slip 406.61km under the wheels of ‘Big Blue’ and it managed to gurgle 61.33 litres of 91RON petrol down its intakes.
The nett result was an average of 15.08 litres per 100 kilometres, which is certainly nothing to crow about.

Now I must admit a lot of that was city driving, what with it being Christmas and all there was all that shopping to do for the CarAdvice Christmas tree!

Thinking I may have developed an overactive ‘lead foot’ I gave the car to Paul Maric for a few days while I had a play with the Lancer Ralliart sedan he’d also been testing for a review on CarAdvice.

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Now Paul’s not the slowest driver around but he was very, very good and spent quite a bit of time on the freeway with the cruise control locked on and he managed to get the onboard trip computer to produce a readout of 12.3L/100km – better but it’s going to take a lot of work to make any significant fuel savings with this engine, it would seem.

During this time Paul also ran the car on 98RON fuel as we planned to do some acceleration tests on it and wanted it to have the best possible chance.

Trouble is if you need to run the car on the most expensive petrol available to get even a small saving on fuel consumption then that doesn’t seem like a real saving to me.

The acceleration times for the car aren’t all that great a tale either as the car is a full second slower than the official figures for the manual SS V8 with the best of three runs being a 6.43 seconds to 100km/h.

Tests conducted by Paul Maric. Graph shows Speed | Time | Distance.

Holden Commodore SS AFM 0-100km/hHolden Commodore SS AFM 0-100km/hHolden Commodore SS AFM 0-100km/h

Holden Commodore SS AFM 0-100km/h

It will be interesting to see how Holden goes with this engine, which it will fit as standard to all automatic transmission, V8 powered models in its range from January.

On the plus side the Commodore is a pleasant enough car to drive, easy to live with and you can certainly see the seduction in such a large car at this time of year when you’ve got friends and relatives who need transporting.

There’s oodles of room inside for five adults, a boot that will swallow all the excesses of Christmas shopping and it still makes that lovely V8 engine growl when you give it a bit of the right foot.

We can only hope that as ‘Big Blue’ totes up the kilometres things improve in the fuel consumption stakes, because after all that’s what this car and the technology in it are all about.