2013 Holden VF SS-V Redline Track Review: Sedan, Ute

Tim O'Brien | 35 Comments

2013 HOLDEN VF SS-V REDLINE REVIEW

What’s hot: A hot bargain; howling V8, nimble handling, premium interior.
What’s not: Most people will never discover how good this car is.
X-Factor: Could Australians again embrace the large sedan? Here’s 530 reasons and 270 water-tight arguments to look at the Redline.

Vehicle style: Large Performance Sedan and Ute
Price: Redline Ute (manual) $48,990 | Redline Sedan (manual) $51,490

Engine/trans: 270kW/530Nm 6.0 litre V8/6spd manual ($2200 adds 6spd auto)
Fuel consumption listed: 11.8 l/100km (PULP recommended)

Damn this is a friggin’ mighty car.

Not an Audi R8, not a Nissan GT-R, neither any of the BMW M Series, not one of these can match Holden’s SS-V Redline for the singular sheer gut-busting fun of a wide-open lap on Phillip Island’s sweeping international GP circuit.

It’s an absolute blast.

And of the SS-V Redline Sedan and Ute – both riotously quick – the Ute takes the cigar.

It’s because it is not perfect, that makes it so perfect.

A little loose, distinctly tail-happy, it’s the inherent imperfections of the Ute as much as its astonishing competence that makes this car such a complete driver’s machine.

Fast? Light up the 6.0 litre V8 under the bonnet, and Holden’s SS-V Redline hauls like a racecar.

And can also, as far as the Ute is concerned, haul like a tractor – how many performance cars capable of an 8:19.47 lap of the Nurburgring can also tuck 600kg of cargo between its wheels?

Some days you’ve just gotta love this job.

We joined Holden for a day on the track at Phillip Island in Holden’s new SS-V Redline Sedan and Ute: on the skidpan, a dragstrip on the main straight, and laps at full noise through Southern Loop, sideways through Siberia and catching the tail up over Lukey.

At $48,990 for the Ute, and $51,490 for the Sedan, the SS-V Redline is absolutely the performance bargain buy of the moment. Nothing gets close.

Run a line through the Australian market at $50k. What else can you find at that sub-LCT price with this level of trim, this level of performance, with this robust chassis and this level of track capability?

But Holden has a problem. Since it launched the new VF, it can’t build them fast enough to satisfy demand.

And for the SS-V and Redline models, you can be waiting six weeks or more… now there’s an unexpected turn-up for a local manufacturer.

Now with launch control, a mid-5.0 second 0-100km/h dash, a ‘competition mode’ for those days at the track, and superbly nimble at the wheel, it’s time to think again about ‘the home-grown’ performance car.

THE INTERIOR

Inside both SS-V Redline Ute and Sedan you’ll find a classy, solidly-built, premium sports interior.

The gearshift falls perfectly to hand, the clutch and shift are surprisingly light, and the weighting to the steering just right.

Both Ute and Sedan feature plush leather-trimmed sports buckets, sensor key with push button start, footwell lamps, Bose audio and DVD player, and, in the sedan, a sunroof.

Ahead of the grippy leather-wrapped steering wheel there’s a colour head-up display, sports instruments, centre screen with standard sat-nav with live traffic updates and traffic management control.

Then add Holden’s new auto park system, electric park brake, fog lamps, forged 19-inch wheels sitting over cranking Brembo brakes and an updated FE3 sports suspension.

2013 holden commodore ss v 09

Safety features include six airbags, electronic stability control, ABS and traction control, as well as blind spot alert, reverse traffic alert, forward collision alert and lane departure warning.

Also standard is hill-hold control and hill-start assist, trailer sway-control and ISOFIX child seat anchor points.

Put all those features behind a stonking 6.0 litre V8, and that’s a one impressive package at this price.

ON THE TRACK

So what’s it like on the track, this performance bargain?

Forget about how it looks, forget that you’re sitting in some of the best sports buckets you’ll find, forget that for the price of an upmarket Euro performance hatch you’ve got a howling V8 with 270kW and 530Nm straining at the leash, you’ll forget all this the moment you crest the rise under the bridge, and tuck the SS-V Redline’s nose into turn one.

And from there, right through the lap, you’ll forget everything else except the total enjoyment of this car. Its performance is completely immersing.

The track-tuned ‘competitive-mode’ calibration – besides priming launch control – extends the parameters of the stability and traction control, to delay intervention (to switch on, just hit the button next to the gearshift twice).

You’ll feel the transformation instantly. Besides sharpening up steering response, it allows much more freedom to explore the SS-V Redline’s outer limits before ‘the hand of God’ intervenes.

In this mode, it will allow a full four-wheel slide and power-on oversteer if you really want to get serious at the wheel.

In this mode we gave launch control a workout on the ‘dragstrip’. Only available with manual cars, it’s just a matter of depressing the clutch, and flooring the accelerator.

The 6.0 litre under the bonnet will instantly spool up to around 4600rpm, before settling back at 4200rpm – and will hold it for two or three seconds.

In those two or three seconds, drop the clutch and it will launch itself out of the hole with an almighty bellow, and bring up 100km/h in a shade over five seconds.

It’s a party trick; we reckon it’s just as quick without engaging launch control (and a lot more fun, especially in the Ute).

But it’s the way this car engages with the track that is the test of its breeding.

With bigger boots at the back, 275/35 R19 tyres at the rear, and 245/40 R19s on the front, these are widest wheels and tyres ever fitted to a mainstream Holden.

Each, Ute and Sedan, have astonishing reserves of grip for such a big heavy car, but which is also incredibly nimble and changes direction in a way that belies its size and heft.

The front end, with larger bore struts with rebound springs and new damper tune, as well as bigger stabilizer bars front and rear, sits absolutely flat at high speed.

It’s only on the ‘second apex’ of Southern Loop that you’ll feel the transfer of the mass of the car, just as you get the shoe in again and line up for the sweeping left-hander before ‘Honda’ – the hairpin.

Taking Honda in the Ute is more than a hoot, especially if you’re not really concerned about setting the fastest lap and get the power in early for a nice sideways exit.

It’s irresistible. Line up Siberia, and it’s the same again. It’s gloriously quick, fantastic fun, and sounds like you’ve got a tub-full of mongrel canines all howling in unison in the back.

This is what driving fun is all about isn’t it?

TRACK TEST VERDICT

This is a tremendous performance car, full stop – Holden’s SS-V Redline.

Ute or Sedan, it’s impossible not to enjoy unleashing those 530Nm, relishing in both its composure and balance, as much as its tear-away performance.

What you get with Holden’s SS-V Redline at a $50k purchase price is unmatched in the Australian market. Line them up: dollar for dollar the Redline Sedan, Ute and Wagon absolutely smash their nearest competitors.

It gives you the premium comfort and features, the track day performance and visceral V8 howl of imported performance sedans twice and three times its price.

And the Ute? This Australian iteration of the modern sportscar is all ours. Want something similar, you’ve got to look to that other Australian, Ford’s FPV line of utes.

Holden engineers can rightly feel pretty smug about this one: they’ve hatched something very special.

As Holden Marketing Manager Kristian Aquilina said:

“We’ve got a fantastic performance car with Redline and we’ve now got a new lap record of 8m 19.47sec at the world-famous Nürburgring to prove it.”

Yep, no argument there.


MORE: VF Commodore And Ute range REVIEWED
MORE: VF Commodore Pricing Announced
MORE: HSV Gen-F Pricing Announced
MORE: Unveiled: VF Calais V | Commodore SS | VF Ute | WN Caprice
MORE: HSV Gen-F range revealed

Pricing (excludes on-road costs)

  • SS V Redline Sedan (manual) - $51,490
  • SS V Redline Sedan (auto) - $53,690
  • SS V Redline Sportwagon (auto) - $55,690
  • SS V Redline Ute (manual) - $48,990
  • SS V Redline Ute (auto) - $50,690

Filed under: Featured, review, Holden, holden commodore, ute, sedan, sport, performance, utility, holden commodore ss, Holden SS-V, Holden SS, large, Advice, special-featured, holden commodore ss v, enthusiast, holden commodore ss v ute, tim o'brien, holden ss v redline, holden commodore ss v redline, available, track test, 2013my

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  • Henri LeConte says,
    1 year ago
    1 like
    dry

    Ok, value for money, granted, but this write up smacks of biased "fanboi". Where are the obvious questions, like why are we getting the 6l engine when the same car os comes with a 6.2?

    And, how secure a purchase is this car, with GMH probably winding up very soon?
    • FrugalOne says,
      1 year ago


      Ok, value for money, granted, but this write up smacks of biased "fanboi". Where are the obvious questions, like why are we getting the 6l engine when the same car os comes with a 6.2?

      And, how secure a purchase is this car, with GMH probably winding up very soon?


      the comment you made why we get a lesser engine is sad, usa gets the 6.2, I suppose its the way for gm to talk you up to a hsv

    • Tim O'Brien says,
      1 year ago
      15 likes
      Crikey... is that the only "obvious question"? The SS-V Redline is what it is.

      This is a track review of this car, this one, not the one it might have been, the one you've got in your head.

      This review, my opinion on this car, turns on this argument: "Run a line through the Australian market at $50k. What else you can find at that sub-LCT price with this level of trim, this level of performance, with this robust chassis and this level of track capability?"

      That's your challenge. If that makes me a "fanboi"... guilty as charged your honour.

      Tim

    • MotorMouth says,
      1 year ago
      4 likes
      Who says we can't have 6.2? Last time I looked we could have a 6.2 in half-a-dozen different models if we were willing to pay for it. But who needs it when you can spend $6495 on a sub-$40k SS Ute and get 310kw from it?

      As for Holden "winding up soon", are you a complete idiot? Holden is the no.2 car brand in Australia, they are going to be selling cars here forever. Models come and go, old factories close down and new ones open, it happens all the time. Look at Vauxhall, they haven't had a car of their own for decades but they still exist. Holden will be around long after the world has forgotten you and I ever existed. (I should point out that the urge to end the last sentence with "you pathetic little man" was almost overwhelming.)
      • Craig says,
        8 months ago
        "Winding up soon" are you a complete idiot.
        Who's the idiot one?
        • matt says,
          8 months ago
          1 like
          umm you? have you not read the news lately? last commodore Ute ever? i want to hibernate for 6 months, where is your rock?
  • FrugalOne says,
    1 year ago
    4 likes
    The ONLY one that can compete is Ford with the Falcon, and they will one last time, sad really to see them go, the real loser is the customers, least the XR8 is backsmile
  • Reg says,
    1 year ago
    2 likes
    "Run a line through the Australian market at $50k. What else you can find at that sub-LCT price with this level of trim, this level of performance, with this robust chassis and this level of track capability?"
    Current WRX starting from $39,990 more than meets your challenge. Not to mention the new 2014 WRX which will leave Holden and Ford in its dust. Your fanboism is admirable and Holden have done a decent job despite cutting corners by not upgrading the engine. But let's not pretend it's the best performance car under $50k.
    • Balthazaaaaaargh says,
      1 year ago
      1 like
      You missed "this level of trim".

      I haven't sat in the VF yet, but its interior could only be better than in the WRX. A foul cabin, that is.

      I agree otherwise though, the WRX is also a performance bargain.
    • Tim O'Brien says,
      1 year ago
      9 likes
      Beaut car Reg, the WRX, love it... but you are kidding.

      Why not save a follow-up comment until after you spend a few minutes at the wheel of the Redline.

      While you're there, just run your finger down the feature list. Also note the level of trim, and then, lastly, find a stretch of road somewhere where you can give it a stamp.

      Then report back.

      Tim
    • g says,
      1 year ago
      4 likes
      Ha Ha...A WRX - really? The WRX is a soft, bloated shadow of it's former self. It's still a straight-line hero but it will only be faster than the Commodore when it's wet, and the Suby's brakes wouldn't last more than 2 laps of the P.I. track. There are FWD cars with better chassis poise. Heck, it still only has a 5-speed gearbox!
      As for the 2014 WRX - do you know something the rest of the world doesn't? By your comments you seem to know what it will drive like and that it will "leave Holden and Ford in its dust."
      If the spy photos are anything to go by, the 2014 WRX already looks underwhelming (in typical Subaru fashion as of late).
      • Bush says,
        1 year ago
        probably a BRZ ooops sorry an 86 oooops a scion ***box wsith a body kit LOL
  • timmy201 says,
    1 year ago
    1 like
    "an 18:19.47 lap of the Nurburgring can also tuck 600kg of cargo between its wheels?"

    I hope you mean 8:19.47. Otherwise it's possibly the slowest recorded lap in history....
    • FrugalOne says,
      1 year ago
      1 like
      LOL

      Good pick up

      A custom hand built Commodore Ute, within the rules and no more fettled than another other make having-a-go, but still nothing "production" about it smile
  • wardski says,
    1 year ago
    2 likes
    Not an Audi R8, not a Nissan GT-R, neither any of the BMW M Series, not one of these can match Holden’s SS-V Redline for the singular sheer gut-busting fun of a wide-open lap on Phillip Island’s sweeping international GP circuit.

    A GTR can't match a Falcodore for gut-busting fun? I totally disagree with you there
    • g says,
      1 year ago
      Fun doesn't always mean being able to lap at hyper-speed. I'd have just as much fun drifting this car Dukes of Hazzard-style around a track like P.I.
    • MotorMouth says,
      1 year ago
      3 likes
      Mike, you say that as if you have driven both, when I'd bet tomorrow's lunch money you've driven neither. I'd also bet the next day's that you have no idea what fun behind the wheel is. Do you think a GT-R will let you exit a corner sideways, with the ESP on? That, my friend, is what fun is all about and the whilst the GT-R might be an absolute weapon, it wasn't made to be fun.
      • MotorMouth says,
        1 year ago
        1 like
        Sorry, I appeared to be asking "Mike" a question but it should, of course, have been directed at wardski.
    • Smash says,
      1 year ago
      The GTR is always being constantly praised for it's performance.. but slammed for it's lack of soul and fun. Basically, it's a technical wonder with little real appeal.
  • War Rocket Ajax says,
    1 year ago
    3 likes
    I've recently ordered an SSV after testing a lot of cars around the $50k mark, including the Merc A250 and Subaru WRX luxury. As an overall package, the Commodore really is fantastic and I was stunned about the job they did on the interior.

    The WRX was a stonking car to drive and if I was to do track days, then I probably would have ordered that instead. But I don't, and if I'm going to be driving a car daily then it has to not feel like the inside of an 80's hot hatch. Even the 'luxury' model was terrible. I hope that Subaru up their game for the 2014 model. Yes, it's a drivers car, but you can still produce a drivers car with the sort of features that Holden has.
    • Balthazaaaaaargh says,
      1 year ago
      Off topic, freakin' love your username.

      "Flash Gordon approaching!"
      • War Rocket Ajax says,
        1 year ago
        1 like
        Ha, thanks. One of my favourite kitsch movies. I think Brian Blessed was the only man who could whisper and shout at the same time!
  • OutbackOZ
    OutbackOZ says,
    1 year ago
    4 likes
    Still good to see an Aussie product ticking a the right boxes.

    I do like my Fords but I will back an Aussie even if its gotta be a Holden biggrin

    One question, and no im not trying to start a war!!
    The Ford GS?? is it worth the extra over the redline??

    Like I said im not trying to start a war ppl, just a simple question.....
    • Tim O'Brien says,
      1 year ago
      7 likes
      Yup, that other great underrated Oz blaster, FPV's stonkin' supercharged GS.

      There's not a lot in it, but the GS - you've gotta remember that the FG is getting a bit long in the tooth now - is edged out by the new SS-V Redline Oz. The new Holden feels the newer car and is packed to the gunwales with interior features and smart technologies.

      The Redline's 'competitive mode' traction control calibration is also pretty sensational. You can hang the back right out before it decides to scoop you in.

      But the all-alloy supercharged bent-eight in the Falcon still sounds better, and has a few more ergs with 315kW and 545Nm.

      It's about $7k more, but you do get less for the money - all things considered. That said, there will be lots of willing Ford dealers prepared for a bit of haggling over that price on the GS.

      If you can't get it down to around the same as the SS-V Redline, well, you're not really trying (and never show your face in a Mumbai street market ever again).

      Tim

      • OutbackOZ
        OutbackOZ says,
        1 year ago
        4 likes
        Cheers Tim,

        That exactly what i wanted (and was kind of what i thought)

        Australia do make great cars, its just a pity the rest of the world wont get to see it.

        Ford vs Holden, no matter witch side of the fence you sit, if you are a true fan, you need them both to make the other better (in your own mind).

        Good on Holden for bringing it to the table.
  • War Rocket Ajax says,
    1 year ago
    Hi Tim,
    Out of interest, did you drive both the auto and manual up against each other? If so, did you find much difference between the two in terms of drivability and pace?

    It would also be interesting to see a back to back comparison between the ssv and the redline (at some point) - worth the extra cash???

    Btw, I have a 7 week wait for mine!
    • Tim O'Brien says,
      1 year ago
      1 like
      Yup WRA, drove both manual and auto, but, alas, the auto only on the skid-pan, not on the track.

      Didn't really get a feel for it and not enough runs to start goofing around - mostly couldn't remember where to go on the flamin' wet circuit that was laid out for us ("... right, right... behind that witches hat, in front of this one... yeh... think I've got it...")

      We'll be reviewing both shortly on the road. Probably have to put on our sensible hats but...

      Tim

      PS: Give us a report in seven weeks WRA!
      • Chris says,
        12 months ago
        Hi Tim,

        Thanks for the great write up.
        I am massively torn.
        I currently own an XR50 turbo and my lease is due to expire in 2 months.
        I have been looking closely at the VF SSV Redline, The FPV GS and F6.
        This is the first time I can remember having such great performance sedans to choose from in a similar price bracket, it is great to be spoilt for choice
        If you could get the FPV GS at the same price as the VF SSV Redline which would you choose and why?
        The FPV F6 seems to be around $6-8K dearer, what are your thoughts regarding the F6 in this equation.
        Look forward to your thoughts.

        Thanks,

        Chris
  • CAZZO says,
    1 year ago
    2 likes
    If you dont like this vehicle, you dont have a pulse smile

    Go to NewIdea website or similar biggrin

    I REALLY like this vehicle because it has 2 valves and pushrods, anti "brochure savy" and all the better for it laugh
  • Mo K says,
    1 year ago
    Here I am trying to wean myself off my LS1 and I read this. Making the decision even more difficult for me Tim laugh
  • #13 deathtrap says,
    1 year ago
    Is it better to wait for the new Wrx in March to decide between that and an SS, or go for the SS now? Can't even decide between SS in auto or manual. Want the manual but everyone tells me I'm nuts for even considering it in Sydney traffic. Tim's positive comments about the auto makes the decision harder.. Drove the auto, smooth as butter..haven't driven the manual. Basically, want a daily driver I can thrash at eastern creek some weekends. I guess i'm comparing apples with oranges anyway.. 2 L aWD v 6 L Rwd. Any ideas?
  • Daryl Wilson says,
    1 year ago
    Wow what a wrap hope we see a lot of VF's on the road well done Holden.
  • Phil Rourke says,
    9 months ago
    1 like
    I'm going to get a redline ute before they stop making them.
    Can't go through life never owning a holden v8 ute, I've had 3 v6's and loved them.
    Already got my custom plates for my last holden ute. They read " ENDERA "
  • Frankie VF Fan says,
    7 months ago
    Hi guys,
    I'm in the market for a sub 50k performance car and recently drove a WRX and the redline. Their is no comparison in every aspect. The WRX is bland has an inbuilt inhibitor which makes driving it boring and the interior is absolutely disgusting - bland, uninspiring and 80's feel. Not being a Holden person, I was blown away with the redline. The performance, interior, list of standard accessories is just amazing. To me, it is a poor man's C63.

    I have ordered one and can't wait to pick it up next week!!!
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