Holden SS-V Redline Ute | Drive Review

2014 Holden SS-V Redline Ute | Drive Review

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Produced by – Carsguide | Malcolm Flynn

Carsguide | Holden Australia -When Holden announced in 2013 that it had taken the VF SS-V Redline Ute to the Nurburgring to set a new lap record for a commercial and utility vehicle, it seemed the perfect combination – our lap-time love affair with the ‘Ring, wed to the ultimate genesis of V8 engine, ute body style and a loved local brand.

The Redline’s 8:19.47 lap time around the 20.8km German race circuit didn’t tell us anything about the new model’s ability to haul a load in its tray, or what it was like dragging its SS skirts across a building site, but it did form the cornerstone of Holden’s marketing campaign for the VF Ute, and by crikey did it get tongues wagging.

Holden’s subsequent announcement of the brand’s withdrawal from local manufacturing in 2017 has all-but assured that the VF SS-V Redline Ute is indeed that ultimate genesis, and critically, the fastest Holden ute ever.

PRICING

The SS-V Redline Ute kicks off at $48,990 for the six-speed manual version tested here. Defying conventional wisdom, the record-breaking car was actually six-speed automatic Redline, which will cost you an extra $1700 or $50,690.

Compared with the largely mechanically identical SS and regular SS-V, the SS-V Redline asks $10,000 more than the $38,990 manual SS, and $6,500 over the $42,490 SS-V manual.

DESIGN

For the extra outlay, the Redline flagship scores a whole heap of track-bred refinements to help it stop, go, and turn better than any ute should, for less than half the price of the current cheapest Porsche.

The Redline package starts with its wider rear tyres – a first for Holden – with fat 275/35/R19 boots up the back, with an extra 30mm of tread each side compared with the 245/40/R19s on the front, rolling on Redline-specific forged 19 inch alloys.

These wheels can be had in black or polished finishes depending on body colour choice, and are the key visual differentiator over lesser SS models aside from a red V for all SS-V badging.

Making the most of the Redline’s extra grip is a new FE3 suspension tune (compared to the SS and SS-V’s FE2), which includes unique springs and dampers, bigger stabiliser bars, stiffer bushes and four piston Brembo front brakes.

Holden says the new track bits come from the local development of the Commodore’s Chevrolet Camaro platform twin, but they’re also fitted to the Commodore-based Chevrolet SS that just launched stateside.

This is on top of the usual SS-V luxuries like fantastic seats with leather and alcantara trim, dual zone climate control, the brilliant MyLink interface system with eight-inch screen and satnav, a heads up display for trip computer and MyLink functions and proximity keys. Only automatic models get the key fob operated remote start system however.

Despite Holden’s insistence that the VF Ute is a sports car, the SS-V Redline still does a reasonable job as a utility, with a 1600kg braked tow rating, 632kg payload and standard tray liner, but a spare tyre is optional.

ENGINE/TRANSMISSION

As with all VF SS derivatives, the SS-V Redline with the six-speed manual transmission comes with the full-fruit 270kW/530Nm Chevrolet-sourced 6.0-litre V8, while the six-speed auto drops 10kW and 13Nm to 260kW and 517Nm due to its Active Fuel Management (AFM) cylinder deactivation system.

Contradicting the AFM’s fuel-saving intentions however is an identical 11.8L/100km official combined fuel consumption figure for both transmission options.

SAFETY

Like all Holden VF models, the SS-V Redline Ute carries a five star ANCAP rating, with dual front, side chest and side head curtain airbags, along with ABS and stability control.

Considering the Holden Ute’s limited driver visibility thanks to its thick A and B pillars, shallow rear window and high tailgate edge, the VF’s standard reversing camera with parking sensors front and rear, rear cross-traffic alert, auto parking function, plus forward collision, blind spot and lane departure warnings are all very welcome additions.

DRIVING

On a twisty road, the Redline’s differences over a normal SS are clear, feeling lighter on its feet, but more planted front and rear despite the Ute’s natural nose-heavy weight distribution.

The stability control still gets a good workout when you really stomp on it, but as long as you leave it switched on it should prevent any unplanned off-road excursions.

Specific to the Redline is a ‘competitive driving mode’ with launch control (on manual versions only) for when you’re really honking, which tightens up the steering and eases off the stability control to allow you to ride the grip threshold of the upgraded chassis with less interruption.

The six speed manual’s shift is better than ever, but still a bit clunky given the torque it’s designed to deal with. Similarly, the clutch can be difficult to judge initially but is no problem once accustomed.

Temptation also makes the 11.8L/100 combined fuel figure difficult to match, with the 6.0-litre V8’s flex of the right foot performance and throaty engine note both conspiring against frugality.

The Redline’s four-piston Brembo brakes are fitted to the front only, but handled every ounce of on-road punishment we could throw at them with no change to pedal feel or effort.

Its unladen ride is hardly Calais-quality though, with the low profile tyres and heavy springs sending plenty of bumps through to the cabin, but such a compromise is to be expected with the Redline’s track-tuning and load-lugging abilities. On a smooth freeway run though, it’s as much an effortless kilometre-eater as any modern Commodore.

VERDICT

The SS-V Redline Ute is a badge of honour for Holden. Yes it’s got an American drivetrain, but Holden did everything else, and had the guts to create a track-tuned package within a Ute body, and that’s pretty damn cool.

Holden SS-V Redline Ute
Price: from $48,990
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Capped servicing: First four services capped at $185
Service intervals: 9 months/15,000km
Engine: 6.0-litre V8, 270kW/530Nm
Transmission: 6 speed man; RWD
Thirst: 11.8L/100km (official)
Dimensions: 5.1m (L), 1.9m (W), 1.5m (H), 3.0m (WB)
Weight: 1736kg
Spare: None; inflation kit

Specifications

Price: From $48,490

For details on Carsguide, click > www.carsguide.com.au
For details on Holden Australia, click > www.holden.com.au

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