Holden Commodore


Debut: 2006
Maker: Holden
Predecessor: Commodore VT



 Published on 11 Sep 2006 All rights reserved. 
Holden Commodore used to be a clone to Opel Omega. Although the 1997 VT Commodore was said to be engineered in-house, its styling was undeniably a copy of Omega and its technical specifications was heavily influenced by the German car. However, since then the fortune has been shifting to the Australian side. As European car buyers shifted towards premium brands like BMW and Audi, Opel Omega could not escape from the axe in 2003. In contrast, big saloons remain strong in the Australia market. In 2004, Holden sold nearly 80,000 Commodores, enough to justify the development of its own platform. Therefore GM invested US$920 million into the VE Commodore program and assigned Holden the responsibility to develop the rear-drive Zeta platform for the whole group. Apart from Commodore, Zeta will be used in the next Chevrolet Camaro and probably more GM cars for North America.

The new Commodore is designed by Mike Simcoe, the same designer as Monaro coupe. Although no longer related to Opel, it has strong visual resemblance to the current Opel Vectra. It uses short overhangs and aggressive wheelarches to deliver a compact and sporty appearance the old car so lacked. In fact, the VE Commodore is larger than VT in every dimensions - now its wheelbase measures a monstrous 2915mm, its length and width are stretched to 4.9 meters and 1.9 meters respectively. By European standard it will be slotted between a BMW 5-Series and 7-Series, yet in Australia it is just seen as a bread-and-butter family car. This is one of the interesting features of Australian car market. Australian cars tend to be jumbo size due to their wide roads, vast parking spaces, low taxation and cheap fuel prices. Nevertheless, last year the surging oil price has already taken a negative effect on their sales, which saw Commodore dropped from 79,170 units to 66,794 units and Ford Falcon even worse, from 85,500 to 53,080 units. The new Commodore is more than 100 kg heavier than the last one, and its fuel consumption increases a little bit. It seems to be a wrong decision to grow larger.

Anyway, excluding fuel consumption, every aspect of the new Commodore has been improved. Its chassis is 50 percent more rigid. Its crash worthiness is substantially upgraded, as are NVH suppression and build quality. Its suspensions are now mounted on subframes through rubber bushings. It finally gave up the semi-trailing arm rear suspensions and adopted a modern multi-link setup to improve ride and control. Its fuel tank has been moved from the tail to ahead of rear axle in order to improve weight distribution. All these changes are set to enhance handling and driving fun.

And the result? Simply outstanding. The new suspension gives you an impression of firm but controlled ride. On the one hand it soaks up the worst bumps in Australia's country roads (not many European and Japanese cars can do that), on the other hand it delivers excellent body control, grip and predictability. The multi-link suspension has sorted out the oversteer problem of the old car, giving the driver confidence to push the car into corners and enjoy the ability of the rear-drive chassis. Therefore the big Commodore feels much smaller than it is. The no-nonsense hydraulic assisted, variable-ratio rack and pinion steering also adds to the driving fun. It is light at the straight ahead and weighs up nicely into corners. The turn-in is linear and the steering is feelsome, a thing lost in almost all modern European and Japanese saloons.

As before, Holden offers it the homegrown 3.5-liter Alloytec DOHC V6 in two states of tune – a 241hp version gets continuous VVT at intake valves only and a single exhaust, while the upper-class engine employs dual CVVT and twin-exhaust to enable 261hp. Unfortunately, with 1.7 ton of kerb weight to haul, no matter which V6 is installed the Commodore is still a little slow by class standard. Transmission can be either a 6-speed manual (for sporty model SV6), 4-speed automatic (for the most popular base model Omega and mid-model Berlina), or 5-speed automatic (for luxury model Calais).

For the top Commodores (model SS, SS-V or optional on Berlina), power again comes from America - GM's Gen IV small-block V8. The 6.0-liter all-alloy push-rod unit produces 362 horsepower and a monstrous 391 lbft of torque. Mated with a new 6-speed automatic it enables Commodore SS to sprint from 0-60 mph in just 5.1 seconds ! but its fuel consumption is equally appalling at 19.7 mpg.

On Australian roads at least, the new Commodore has no enemies to worry about – Ford Falcon included, let alone those Japanese front-drivers. Even a BMW 5-Series fails to ride and steer as well on their rough roads. The outstanding driver appeal is perhaps the greatest achievement of the VE program.

Comfort and refinement are also vastly improved, just in a lesser degree. You may say its interior design and materials are still not up to the level of European offerings or Toyota Camry, but the honest Australian probably don't care about that. They ask for a lot of space and practicality at a bargain price, and they get them in the big Commodore. Yes, it would have been better if the Commodore has stronger and quieter V6 engines, lower fuel consumption and a smoother 4-speed automatic, but even in current form it is good enough to be the best big car available in the Australian market. My only concern is, tailored made to the needs and taste of Australian, Commodore has little prospect for export.
Verdict: 
 Published on 11 Sep 2006
All rights reserved. 
Commodore SS-V


Although HSV (Holden Special Vehicle) version is in the pipeline, the production Commodore SS-V still worth our attention, hence a separate article. In Australia it is priced at an equivalent to US$40,000, the same as what Chrysler charges 300SRT-8 in the USA. However, its direct rivals are Ford Falcon XR8 and XR6 Turbo.

As mentioned, the SS-V is powered by GM's Gen IV small-block ohv V8. It displaces a full 6 liters and produces a respectable 362 horsepower at 5700 rpm, if not as impressive as Chevrolet Corvette's 400 horses. However, there are 391 pound-foot of torque available at 4400 rpm, and the majority of them arrive just above idle, so the driver can rely on its torque to do the job rather than shifting the gearbox. There are two choices for gearbox – GM's new 6L80 6-speed automatic and the familiar Tremec T56 6-speed manual. The latter should have been a driver's choice, but in fact there is little merit to choose it instead of the automatic. Although its shift action and clutch operation have been improved, it is still far from being a world-class transmission.

Holden claims the 6-speed automatic can do 0-62 mph in 5.4 seconds (equivalent to 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds), which is impressive considering the car seats 5 big guys and weighs 1800kg. However, Chrysler 300SRT-8 is even more impressive – its 6.1-liter HEMI produces 60 more horsepower than the Holden and does 0-60 in 4.9 seconds. I also expect the Chrysler will beat the Holden more convincingly at higher speed. On the other hand, BMW 335i sedan will offer the same kind of performance at the same price (we are talking of in a third-party country if it were exported) but trade space for premium quality. This mean, while Commodore SS-V is cheap and fast, it is not the last word for affordable performance sedans.

Like SV6 and SS, the SS-V gets stiffer sports suspension setup. In addition to that is an aggressive aerodynamic / styling kit and 19-inch alloy wheels. On Australian roads its ride feels firm but damp well, so it is entirely livable as an everyday car. Body control and handling are excellent, although keen drivers will definitely want its steering to be weightier at the straight ahead position. They will also be delighted if the exhaust note sound angrier. That said, Commodore SS-V is faster, handles and rides better than its Ford rivals. That is probably the only thing Australian muscle car fans concern.
Verdict:
 Published on 28 Sep 2006
All rights reserved. 
HSV GTS
HSV, or Holden Special Vehicles, was a joint venture between Holden and TWR (Tom Walkinshaw Racing), but since TWR bankrupted in 2002 it became wholly owned by Holden. Throughout the years HSV's main business was to modify Commodore into performance cars. This goes like BMW's M-division and Mercedes' AMG but HSV is far smaller and less well funded. Therefore it always employs on-the-shelf components from the industry, such as Detroit's V8 engines.

The latest E-series GTS is no exception. Based on the VE generation Commodore, it employs a version of Chevrolet Corvette's LS2 6.0-liter V8, specially tuned to deliver 411 horsepower at 6000 rpm (versus Corvette's 400hp) and 406 lbft of torque at 4400 rpm. Compare with the standard Commodore SS, this V8 has the same capacity but it spins noticeably freer at the top end and therefore produces 50 more horsepower. Given so much capacity, it also produces abundance of low to mid-range torque to enable strong in-gear acceleration. 0-60 mph can be done in 4.8 seconds, accompany with 155 mph top speed. All sounds good for a performance sedan costing just under £40,000.

Nevertheless, 6 years ago its predecessor GTS 300 (whose name implies 300kW output, or 400 horsepower) already boosted more or less the same acceleration performance, plus an unlimited top speed believed to be around 170 mph. At that time, European's top performance sedan BMW M5 had no more horsepower than the GTS 300. Today, M5 and Mercedes E63 produce in excess of 500 horsepower. This is progress. In contrast, HSV is still standing at the 400 mark. It can no longer claim itself a giant killer. We can't help feeling disappointed.

Anyway, if you compare the new GTS to its predecessor, you will find plenty of improvement in handling and ride quality. Undoubtedly, the VE Commdore's stiff chassis, long wheelbase and wide tracks, modern multi-link rear suspensions and better NVH engineering play an important role. It corners with virtually no body roll. Its massive tires generate massive grip. Its big disc brakes (365mm front and 350mm rear, with 4-pot AP calipers) provide stronger stopping power than M5. It tames its power much better than any previous HSVs, showing little sign of uncontrollable wheelspin and oversteer if you push too hard in bends. The ESC (Electronic Stability Control) also helps.

Equally important is that HSV GTS has opted for Delphi's Magnetic Ride Control (MRC), which uses electromagnetic medium to vary damping stiffness continuously and provides the driver a selection between Performance and Track mode. This technology has so far appeared only in Chevrolet Corvette, Cadillac XLR, Ferrari 599GTB and Audi TT. Its development costs a fortune to the low-volume HSV but the reward is equally great – the GTS damps beautifully over different surfaces. It smoothens the potholes that used to upset any previous HSV cars. Compare to the non-MRC entry-level R8 Clubsport, the GTS rides more composed on the backroads yet more comfortable on the highway.

The E-series GTS is no longer a clumsy drive like its predecessor. Although there is little improvement in performance, it is still a much better car overall. Of course, you can still pick a lot of flaws from it, say, the American V8 is not as smooth as European engines; the shift quality of Tremec T56 is still far from satisfying; the cabin and overall build quality remains Aussie level… but for this price you can probably ask no more.
Verdict:
 Published on 5 Oct 2008
All rights reserved. 
HSV W427

Does a super V8 justify a price higher than Mercedes C63 AMG ?

In Australia, HSV always represents great value for money compare with imported performance sedans. For example, a 411-horsepower HSV GTS is priced at just A$77,000, almost half the price of BMW M3 and Mercedes C63 AMG. However, this tradition is going to be broken by a limited edition model. HSV is going to produce 427 units of W427, each asks for 155,500 Australian dollars, or 10 percent more than our favourite C63 AMG. Is it crazy ?

In many aspects the W427 does not justify that amount of money. Firstly, its exterior design is not particularly different from the lesser GTS. Although the front end is made more aggressive, it looks very aftermarket and hardly tasteful. The prominent rear spoiler of GTS is even replaced by a subtle boot lid spoiler (though made of carbon-fiber now). The overall appearance cannot be described as an upgrade. Secondly, the cabin remains cheap. The nasty plastics of standard Commodore mix and match with in-your-face red leather trim and cheap switch gears to deliver an especially poor visual effect. Again, we found too few differences from the GTS.

Asking a premium price without delivering a premium package, W427 must be much more powerful and faster than its European counterparts. Well, the answer is both yes and no. As implied by its name, W427 is powered by the 7-liter (or 427 cubic inches) LS7 V8 engine of Chevrolet Corvette Z06. As you know, this engine has titanium con-rods, pushrods and intake valves, 11.0:1 compression, forged aluminum pistons and forged crankshaft to compensate for its inefficient OHV valvetrain. The result is a remarkable 7000 rpm redline, 503 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque. An HSV-tuned 2-stage variable exhaust produces great sound at rev, while dry-sump lubrication lowers center of gravity hence aiding handling. Power transmits to a Tremec TR6060 gearbox like Corvette. LSD and electronic stability control are inevitable to handle such a lot of power.

 


Subtle boot lid spoiler looks more civilized than GTS

On the road, the LS7 engine delivers its power linearly. Below 4000 rpm, its extra punch over GTS is not too obvious. Its true ability lies on the upper range. Max torque and power arrive at 5000 rpm and 6500 rpm respectively, more like a multi-valve engine. Of course, those pursuing the fun of high revolution should look at BMW's smaller capacity V8 and V10 instead. What you can't deny is the strength of the LS7 engine - it produces some 92 horsepower more than the lesser GTS, 80hp more than M3 and 46hp more than C63 !

Unfortunately, handicapped by a near 1.9-ton body, the W427 is not as quick as we hoped for. The company claims 0-62 mph take 4.7 seconds, a couple of tenths slower than C63 AMG. Australian road testers usually find the figures supplied by HSV range from accurate to optimistic, so the conservatively rated German performance machines should have an edge on the HSV in real world. The only area the latter beat them is top speed, as it is electronically regulated at 270 km/h instead of its rivals' 250 km/h.

The suspensions of W427 is about 30 percent stiffer and ride 20 mm lower than GTS. The excellent MRC magnetic ride control, which utilizes Delphi's electromagnetic-fluid adaptive dampers, is carried over. It gives the W427 a surprisingly livable ride quality thus the car is suitable for daily use. The handling of W427 is good, thanks to flat cornering and progressive oversteer at the limit. However, with so much torque going through the rear wheels, it is prone to wheelspin in low gears. In wet condition traction control works overtime to contain wheelspin. The W427 has stronger brakes than other HSV models - up front are 380mm discs and 6-piston calipers, at the rear are 350mm discs and 4-pot calipers - thus it provides confidence inspiring braking. Most controls are well calibrated, except the Tremec gearbox whose gearshift is still imprecise.

When Cadillac CTS-V abandoned the Corvette Z06 engine for a more matured ZR1 supercharged engine, HSV W427 becomes the only 4-door sedan in the world powered by this engine. However, exclusivity is not the right reason to ask for absurd money. This car does not deliver any higher performance per dollar than its European counterparts, so how can it justify the far inferior quality, attention to details and brand image ?

Verdict:
 Published on 25 Apr 2007
All rights reserved. 
Holden Caprice / Statesman
The twins Caprice and Statesman are long-wheelbase luxury versions of Commodore. Some 94mm of extra space is inserted between the axles to create a super-roomy interior, while the overall length is extended by 266mm to enable a graceful tail and 535 liters of luggage space. In other words, the twins are as large as a long-wheelbase Mercedes S-class ! The extra length also improves their appearance – side profile becomes sleeker and almost as handsome as Audi A8. What a pity the fascia remains outdated.

How to distinguish Caprice and Statesman ? it's hard to tell from the look if you do not pay attention to the detailed differences in their grilles. However, the Statesman is designed to please old people and bosses who like to be driven, so its suspension setting biases strongly towards comfort. The Caprice is on the contrary, using firm suspensions and low profile tires to please its drivers. Nevertheless, both cars can be chosen with the same 261hp 3.6-liter V6 and 362hp 6.0-liter V8 engine, just like Commodore, thus there is no discernible differences in straight line performance. If you choose the big V8, you will find the 1.8-1.9 ton limousines have a surprising turn of speed, capable of doing 0-60 in 6.3 seconds. Unfortunately, they drink gasoline equally fast...

Compare with European premium sedans like BMW 5-Series, the Australian homegrown limousines are cheaper yet vastly more spacious. However, in terms of materials, build quality or interior design, they are far from world class. Caprice and Statesman were derived from the workman Commodore at a budget of only US$150 million (on the top of the US$750 million budget for Commodore), so how can they compete directly with European premium executive cars ? Take the push-rod V8 for example. Powerful? certainly. Refined? No way. The same goes for GM's 6-speed automatic transmission, which is no way as smooth as ZF's or Mercedes' units. When you drive the Caprice quickly, you will appreciate its body control, grip and steering, but its suspensions are too hard for a luxurious car. In Statesman, the situation is on the contrary, where body control and driving pleasure are sacrificed for a pillowy ride. Many limousines are equipped with adaptive damping or air suspensions to solve this problem, but sadly the Holden duo did not do that as they were afraid to push the price too high. So why does Buick Lucerne dare to employ Magnetic Ride Control? Perhaps Holden should think again.

Admittedly, price is a very sensitive issue for Caprice and Statesman, as they are mainly sold as company cars in Australia. The fleet market shrank seriously in recent years to the extent that Ford is evacuating from it. The Holden duo can still survive because they are also exported to overseas market, under the name Chevrolet Caprice in the Middle East, Buick Park Avenue in China and Daewoo Statesman in Korea. Still, Holden does not expect to sell much more than 20,000 cars worldwide this year.
Verdict:
 Published on 23 Feb 2008
All rights reserved. 
Pontiac G8
Having failed the experiment of selling Holden Monaro in America as Pontiac GTO, GM tries again with the new generation Holden Commodore. This time it gets a new name, G8, so no more criticism could be aroused if it does not fit into the character of existing Pontiac nameplates. Being a large four-door sedan with strong sporting flavours, it could be an answer to Infiniti G35, Chrysler 300C and even BMW 335i. Officially, it is a new line in the Pontiac family tree. However, it is effectively a replacement to the aging Grand Prix.

Having North America market in signt right from development, Holden Commodore does not need much modifications before going abroad. The biggest change is the look, which features Pontiac's signature front grille, twin-bumper intakes and a pair of fake cooling intakes on the bonnet. It therefore seems to be sportier than the Australian car. In fact, under the sheet metal is basically the same thing. The same powertrains - 3.6-liter DOHC V6 with 5-speed automatic transmission and 6-liter push-rod V8 with 6-speed auto or manual - serve the G8. The tuning is the same too, so the slight difference in power rating is due to new SAE standard.

The V8 GT equipped with automatic tranny can do 0-60 in 5.3 seconds and 0-100 mph in around 13 seconds, faster than the aforementioned rivals bar BMW. If you don't ask for class-leading refinement, it could be a tempting choice. In the chassis department, thanks to the excellent Commodore base, Pontiac finally has a car to rival the imports for handling and ride. But then again, isn't itself an import too?
Verdict:
 Published on 22 Nov 2008
All rights reserved. 
6.2 LS3 engine to HSV GTS and Pontiac G8 GXP
Earlier this year HSV has upgraded its 6.0-liter cars to the new 6.2-liter GM LS3 V8 (which made debut in Chevrolet Corvette). Max power increased by 14hp to 425hp, while max torque remains unchanged at 406 lb-ft. It gives HSV GTS a moral victory over its arch rival Ford FPV Falcon GT (with 422hp), but in real world the peformance gain is hard to detect.

Across the Pacific Ocean, Pontiac introduced a G8 GXP using the same LS3 engine. Rated at 415 horsepower and 415 lb-ft, it is the equivalent of HSV GTS thus becomes the new flagship model of G8. Performance is significantly lifted from the existing G8 GT with 6.0-liter and 361hp, especially when the optional 6-speed manual gearbox is selected. The GXP is also benefited with better tires and Brembo brakes, just like its HSV equivalent.

Pontiac G8 GXP
Verdict:
 Published on 16 Aug 2013 All rights reserved. 
VF Commodore


The current generation Holden Commodore, or VE, is nearly 7 years old and it is time to have a full generation changeover. However, considering its sales have been falling steadily in recent years, from 80,000 units a decade ago to just over 30,000 units last year, it is difficult to justify the investment necessary for a full redesign. That is why Holden opted for a mid-life makeover. The VF Commodore is still built on very much the VE platform, as its unchanged proportion, body width and wheelbase show. It focuses on updating the exterior and interior to keep up with the new competition. In mechanical aspect, the number one job is to lessen its notorious thirst for petrol. The outcome is not as convincing as an all-new generation, of course, but it is able to keep the car reasonably competitive for 3 or 4 more years, until the next generation Commodore arrives.



The VF has replaced all body panels except the doors and roof. The nose and tail design has been modernized. Holden also took this opportunity to cut weight. The bonnet and boot lid are converted to aluminum, saving some 20 kg. The body-in-white monocoque is lightened by 12.5 kg through the use of more high-strength steel and an aluminum dash support beam. In the front suspension, the lower control arms and knuckles are changed to cast aluminum to save another 12 kg. Overall, the whole car is about 40 kg lighter than before, despite of extra safety equipment. Meanwhile, the reshaped nose and tail lower drag coefficient from 0.33 to 0.31. In addition to the switch to electrical power steering, fuel consumption is reduced by 6.7 percent on the base model.



Inside, the cabin is completely revamped. The new dashboard is far more stylish than the past. Materials are richer, although the fit and finish still falls behind world standards, and some plastics are still hard and scratchy. GM's MyLink infotainment system with touchscreen is a welcomed update – frankly, without that it would not be possible to survive in today's competitive market place. Cabin space is still the Commodore's advantage, otherwise no one would consider a car so big and heavy. There are not many affordable family cars can sit 3 adults comfortably at the back.

Powertrains are carried over from VE. There are two Alloytech V6s, a 3.0-liter with about 250 hp and a 3.6-liter unit with 280 hp, both are completed with dual-VVT and direct injection and paired with GM's 6-speed automatic transmission. They are not exactly fast, as burdened by a high kerb weight, so performance lovers will have to opt for the 6-liter small-block pushrod V8, which offers 350-360 hp depending on transmission. 0-60 mph is guaranteed to be under six seconds. The performance models are badged SS, SS-V or SS-V Redline. The latter is the new range-topper, offering the stiffest suspension, largest Brembo brakes, wider rear tires, faster ratio steering and launch control. Expect 0-60 mph to take a little over 5 seconds and a lot of oversteering fun in corners. Nevertheless, the lighter V6 offers better balance, higher agility and a smoother ride.


SS-V Redline

Holden's new electrical power steering is a rare success among its kind. It is actually better than the old hydraulic rack, offering quicker on-center response for sharper turn-in and a light yet progressive feeling. In addition to the unique rear-drive dynamics, the Commodore is good at delivering driving pleasure.

On the downside, the VF fails to match newer rivals for build quality, engine refinement, sound insulation and especially fuel economy. Its lack of global exposure also hurts its chance for long-term survival. While GM has committed to build the next generation Commodore in Australia, we all know the days for the line is numbered. The only way to survive is to globalize it, but then will it be the Commodore that we used to know?
Verdict:
 Published on 17 Aug 2013 All rights reserved. 
HSV Gen-F GTS


High-performance Commodores built by HSV (Holden Special Vehicle), the official tuning arm of Holden founded by the late Tom Walkinshaw, has always been renowned for performance bargain. While their build quality and technology are no match with European performance sedans, their big Detroit V8s offer comparable performance and sometimes even more raw fun. The latest Gen-F is no exception.

It goes without saying that Gen-F is built on the VF Commodore, just like the previous E-series that was derived from VE Commodore. It enjoys the standard car's extensive update, especially the modernized interior and lightweight aluminum components, but the limelight still falls on the engine bay. Having tried a couple of Corvette V8s and even the 7-liter engine from Z06 in the past, the new HSV range-topper lifts the game to an unprecedented level – the 6.2-liter LSA supercharged V8 coming straight from Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. This heavyweight engine produces an astonishing 585 horsepower and 546 pound-foot of torque with the same calibration as the Chevy. These figures eclipse Audi RS6 as well as BMW M5, only edged out by Mercedes E63 AMG S in terms of torque (while power is equal). Besides, the Tremec TR6060 6-speed manual gearbox (with GM's 6L90E 6-speed auto as option) and heavy-duty limited-slip differential with dedicated oil cooler are also transplanted from the Camaro to the Australian car. As the Camaro's Zeta platform is derived from the Commodore platform, this transplant is easy.

HSV claims the car can do 0-100 km/h in 4.4 seconds, or 0-60 mph in about 4.2 seconds. It might be slower than the 4-wheel-drive RS6 and E63 AMG S 4matic, but it is right up there with M5 and Jaguar XFR-S. Top speed is strictly regulated at 155 mph, unlike some rivals that can be adjusted to 186 or 190 mph, but on Australian roads there is really no point to go beyond 155.

Before we go on, I have to remind you that the Australian car costs less than half the price of the aforementioned European rivals on its home soil. In UK, where it is rebadged as Vauxhall VXR8 GTS, the price gap is reduced to 30 percent or so. Still, it would be unfair to compare it directly with the likes of M5. Comparison with M3 sedan, RS4 Avant or C63 would be more reasonable. Even so, such comparisons may be like apple vs orange. Its combination of big power, big cabin and low price continues to make it special on the marketplace.



On the road, the mega V8 is surprisingly quiet when you drive at normal pace. Push harder and it reveals a more purposeful noise. That noise is quite different to its rivals'. There is Detroit V8 rumbles, of course, but dominating the soundtrack is the induction sound rather than exhaust note, which shows how hard the Eaton TVS supercharger sucking air. This is overlaid by a thin supercharger whine on the background. It isn't as sophisticated sounding as the turbocharged German motors, but it has its own character.

The heavyweight engine and transmission worsens the GTS' nose-heaviness and increases its kerb weight to 1882 kg, so the car is not going to feel agile. However, its handling and ride are much better than expected. The new electrical power steering is more direct and precise. The large AP brakes, with cross-drilled 2-piece ventilated discs measuring 390 mm up front and 376 mm at the back, are powerful enough to cope with its weight. The Delphi magnetorheological adaptive dampers, now in Gen 3 (like Camaro ZL1, by the way), controls the body motion admirably while delivering a comfortable ride. Better than its German rivals, even in the sportiest mode the ride remains acceptable on normal roads. This make the Australian car highly usable.

The new driver control system offers 4 modes, namely Touring, Sport, Performance and Track. They alter exhaust noise, steering effort, stability control, traction control, suspension stiffness, launch control and the new torque vectoring. The latter applies soft braking on the inside rear wheel to tame the nose-heavy car's inherent understeer. This is quite effective, but it works only on power. If you lift off throttle entering corners, you have to rely on conventional technique for driving a powerful FR car. Fortunately, the big Commodore is honest and easy to understand. You can play powerslide easily with its deep reserve of torque. Just don't do that in a slow, second-gear corner with electronics disabled. After all, anything with 550 lbft of torque going through the rear wheels deserves respect.

The highlight of HSV GTS has always been performance per dollar. The Gen-F update takes this to a higher level, but it also lifts the standard of handling and ride, so dynamically it is at least a match to European sports saloons. To certain extent it may be even more fun to drive. It makes an M3 feels punchless, an RS4 sounds dull to steer and an E63 horribly expensive. Yes, to choose this car over the established European needs big courage (at least if you do not live in Australia or New Zealand, where the price difference is huge). You have to sacrifice the prestige badge and put up with a low-rent interior and bad-taste exterior. If HSV can sort out these problems in the next Gen-G, it will have a winner.
Verdict:
 Published on 11 Dec 2013 All rights reserved. 
Chevrolet SS


This is only a rebadged Holden Commodore VF. That's all.

No, I am not going to stop here, because some of you come from the United States and don't care about what Holden is selling in Australia right now, so let me spend a few more paragraphs on the Chevrolet version.

This is not the first time GM tries to sell the Commodore on US soil. Back in 2008, Detroit imported the Australian car as Pontiac G8. With V8 power, rear-wheel-drive and lots of cabin space, it should appeal to traditional American motorists. Somehow, it didn't sell well. Following the bankruptcy of GM and demise of Pontiac division, the car was gone.

Now the same strategy is resurrected with the Chevrolet SS badge. The Commodore on which it is based is the recently updated VF series. Compared to the old Pontiac it has quite a lot of advances, such as aluminum bonnet, bood lid and suspension components as well as a lightened steel monocoque which account for a 40 kg reduction in kerb weight. A good electrical power steering replaces the old hydraulic unit. Its interior is heavily revamped with better quality materials, modern instruments, infotainment system and safety equipment. The exterior design is also updated a little. The Chevrolet SS is based on the Commodore SS-V Redline, sharing every body panel and aerodynamic kits. Perhaps sales projection is not big, it does not seek any differentiation in styling. Even the same front grille is used.

To save the need of re-certification, however, it continues to use the old 6.2-liter LS3 V8 that served the last Pontiac G8 GXP. It pumps out 415 horsepower and equal number of pound-foot. This eclipses the Australian car's 6.0-liter unit by a good margin, but on the downside it loses the latter's cylinder deactivation technology, so it is quite thirsty by today's standard. GM could have dropped the new Corvette's LT1 engine into the car, which comes with not only cylinder deactivation but also direct injection and variable valve timing, but again it won't be cost effective to do the re-engineering, considering that only 5000 cars a year are projected to be sold in the stateside. The V8 mates to the 6-speed automatic transmission. The Commodore's manual option is not offered due to lack of interest.

Predictably, the car drives very much the same as the Commodore SS-V except being a little faster and rides a little smoother, as GM softened its suspension a bit to please American drivers. For a car so large, its handling is remarkable. Brembo front brakes, limited slip differential and sticky Bridgestone rubbers give it a sporty edge, but most important is a nicely balance chassis and a good-feeling steering. If you seek old-school driving thrills, not many cars can offer this level of satisfaction yet capable of seating 5 in comfort and without costing your whole fortune.

Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
VE Commodore SV6
2006
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4894 / 1899 / 1476 mm
2915 mm
V6, 60-degree
3564 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
VIM
-
261 hp
251 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
245/45VR18
1730 kg
149 mph (c)
7.0 (est)
-
VE Commodore SS-V
2006
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4894 / 1899 / 1476 mm
2915 mm
V8, 90-degree
5967 cc
OHV 16 valves
-
-
362 hp
391 lbft
6-spd manual or 6-spd auto
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
245/40WR19
1800 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.2 (c) (6A)
-
WM Statesman V8
2007
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
5160 / 1899 / 1480 mm
3009 mm
V8, 90-degree
5967 cc
OHV 16 valves
-
-
362 hp
391 lbft
6-speed auto
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
245/45WR18
1890 kg
155 mph (limited)
6.3 (c)
-




Performance tested by: -





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
HSV GTS 6.0
2006
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4943 / 1899 / 1468 mm
2915 mm
V8, 90-degree
5967 cc
OHV 16 valves
-
-
411 hp
406 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 245/35ZR20
R: 275/30ZR20
1800 kg (est)
155 mph (limited)
4.8 (c)
-
HSV GTS 6.2
2008
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4943 / 1899 / 1468 mm
2915 mm
V8, 90-degree
6162 cc
OHV 16 valves
-
-
425 hp / 6000 rpm
406 lbft / 4600 rpm
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 245/35ZR20
R: 275/30ZR20
1789 kg
155 mph (limited)
4.8 (c)
-
HSV W427
2008
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4974 / 1899 / 1462 mm
2915 mm
V8, 90-degree
7011 cc
OHV 16 valves
-
-
503 hp / 6500 rpm
472 lbft / 5000 rpm
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 245/35ZR20
R: 275/30ZR20
1874 kg
168 mph (limited)
4.5 (c) / 4.7*
10.1*




Performance tested by: * Wheels





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Pontiac G8
2008
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4980 / 1899 / 1465 mm
2915 mm
V6, 60-degree
3564 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
VIM
-
256 hp
248 lbft
5-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
245/45VR18
1785 kg
140 mph (limited)
7.0*
18.5*
Pontiac G8 GT
2008
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4980 / 1899 / 1465 mm
2915 mm
V8, 90-degree
5967 cc
OHV 16 valves
-
-
361 hp
385 lbft
6-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
245/40WR19
1860 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.3* / 5.3**
12.7* / 13.2**
Pontiac G8 GXP
2008
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4980 / 1899 / 1465 mm
2915 mm
V8, 90-degree
6162 cc
OHV 16 valves
-
-
415 hp
415 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
245/40WR19
1824 kg
155 mph (limited)
4.7*
11.4*




Performance tested by: *C&D, **MT





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
VF Commodore Evoke 3.0
2013
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4947 / 1898 / 1471 mm
2915 mm
V6, 60-degree
2997 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
-
DI
248 hp
214 lbft
6-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
225/60R16

1622 kg
143 mph (est)
8.2 (est)
-
VF Commodore Calais 3.6
2013
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4950 / 1898 / 1471 mm
2915 mm
V6, 60-degree
3564 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
-
DI
281 hp
258 lbft
6-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
235/50VR18

1702 kg
152 mph (est)
6.8 (est)
-
VF Commodore SS-V Redline
2013
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4966 / 1898 / 1471 mm
2915 mm
V8, 90-degree
5967 cc
OHV 16 valves
-
(6A: cylinder deactivation)
362 hp (6A: 348 hp)
391 lbft (6A: 381 lbft)
6-spd manual or 6-spd auto
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
F: 245/40WR19
R: 275/35WR19
1780 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.4 (c)
-




Performance tested by: -





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
WN Caprice V8
2013
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
5160 / 1898 / 1470 mm
3009 mm
V8, 90-degree
5967 cc
OHV 16 valves
-
-
348 hp
381 lbft
6-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
245/40WR19

1851 kg
155 mph (limited)
6.3 (est)
-
HSV Gen-F GTS
2013
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4988 / 1898 / 1468 mm
2915 mm
V8, 90-degree
6162 cc
OHV 16 valves
Supercharger
-
585 hp / 6000 rpm
546 lbft / 4200 rpm
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 255/35ZR20
R: 275/30ZR20
1882 kg
155 mph (limited)
4.2 (c) / 4.6**
9.9**
Chevrolet SS
2013
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4966 / 1898 / 1471 mm
2915 mm
V8, 90-degree
6162 cc
OHV 16 valves
-
-
415 hp
415 lbft
6-spd auto (6-spd manual)
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
F: 245/40WR19
R: 275/35WR19
1780 kg
160 mph (c)
4.5* (4.6*)
10.5* (10.7*)




Performance tested by: *C&D, **Autocar





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Gen-F GTS

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Chevrolet SS



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