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.
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.
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.
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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