As a basic variant of the hero performance car, the base SS is a good solid introduction into the segment. Well appointed from factory and with good performance, the SS is a great base for those who can’t afford or justify the upper-spec models like the SSV. The 6.0-litre is a solid engine with plenty of power out of the box, while offering plenty to those who prefer to tweak it in search of some more fun.
The interior has a much better feel than its predecessor, the VE. Much nicer seats hold your body better and feel like something you want to sit in instead of need to. The dash layout is easy to read and functional. Even the climate controls are both visually and functionally better.
The only downside to the cabin is the MyLink. It struggles with Apple devices and is clunky in its operating system. With the demise of Pandora in Australia, its only really useful feature is useless. Also disappointing is the lack of a digital radio feature – almost unacceptable in today’s cars.
The new addition of automatic parking is an interesting one. While it’s hard to have faith in it when we’re so used to having complete control of our cars, it’s definitely an interesting party trick to show new passengers and to confuse anyone outside the car who happens to be watching at the time. Front parking sensors are also helpful for getting those tight shopping centre parks spot on.
The rest of the cabin has plenty of space for the family and can fit three adults quite well.
On the road it’s a pleasure to drive. It’s night and day from any other Commodore before it. The FE2 suspension handles anything the road can give with ease. Steering is all drive by wire, and despite the lack of mechanical intervention, it’s well weighted and responsive.
The real joy comes from the L77 6.0-litre V8. Give it a hint of right shoe and it jumps to life and propels you into bye-bye-licence territory before you know it. It sounds fantastic, yet the active fuel management allows it to drink just a little less than a tradie after a hot Friday on the job. The gearbox is nice and controlled. While a little slow to get moving, once you’re going it doesn’t surge and hunt around for gears and quietly does what’s needed.
With three variants of body style, there’s one for everyone. I elected to take the well-styled Sportwagon home. It’s not often you can say a wagon is a good-looking car, but Holden certainly got it right with this one. The tailgate aperture is nice and wide, and the gate opens up to allow easy access for any goods you wish to move, chucking in the pram or sitting in the boot backed up to the beach watching life flow by.
The styling is also a hop ahead over the VE. It keeps the big muscular front guards while also updating it to look a bit more modern and clean. The addition of daytime running lights is a thoughtful safety feature while also looking very nice.
Overall, the VF is a great improvement over what was already a well-rounded car, the VE. Slightly disappointing choices with the stereo system don’t do much to ruin what is a really nice car that’s easy and fun to live with on a day-to-day basis.