What is it?

When I started writing this story you could still buy an Aussie made Commodore.

Not anymore, not since last Friday when they shut the factory for good – or I should say not after current stocks dry up.

It’s a sobering thought.

I’ve been driving and writing about Commodores for longer than I care to remember.

For the most part they’ve been a bit ho-hum, with the odd shining exception.

But, having said that, Holden really did get it’s shit together in the end.

The VF really is/was world class and in hindsight, I suspect we’re are going to regret not being able to buy cars like these anymore – more so than we realise.

Unlike Ford, who decided to kill off the Falcon altogether, Holden has opted to keep the Commodore name alive.

But it won’t be a real Commodore, not as we know it – just a rebadged, front-wheel drive, European designed and built Opel (and we’ve seen a few of these over the years).

It will certainly be nothing like the thumping great, V8-powered SS that I returned last week.

Describing it that way belittles the car, making it sound like a dinosaur – but it’s infinitely better than that.

 

What’s it like to drive?

Fun. Loud. Impressive.

It’s the nearest the average bloke  is ever going to get to a Porsche or Ferrari.

And, to be honest, having driven more than a few of those fancied chariots – the SS is more comfortable and not as daunting to drive.

It’s a fraction of the cost and, as an added bonus, park it and it will still be there when you get back too.

The beauty of the Commodore is that it can seat four or even five good-sized adults in relative comfort, with a boot big enough to take all their luggage, as well as tow a sizeable van or boat too – if that’s your fancy.

Show me a Ferrari that can do that?

The 6.2-litre V8 delivers a gob-smacking 304kW of power and 570Nm of stump-pulling torque, about three times the power of the original Commodore.

Hit it hard and it takes off, as the real wheels struggle to find traction.

The accompanying sound from the four exhaust pipes when you open her up is amazing, and goes a long way to explaining why so many young blokes (some old blokes too) like to roar around the neighbourhood at all times of the day and night.

Dropping back a gear, gassing it up and listening to the sound of the V8 on throttle overun is addictive.

Knowing it would most likely be my last chance to drive this car, I confess to ODing on the SS, signing out manual and automatic versions of both the ute and the sedan over the past few weeks.

While the sedan is an impressive all rounder, with big comfortable seats for old blokes with big bums and the stylish wagon is even more practical, it’s the ute that appeals to my inner bogan.

I’d even go as far as ticking the box for the manual, because it’s simply more fun to drive.

The ute part of the ute also comes in handy as I discovered, moving furniture around the family in the week that I had it, instead of carving up the curves in the nearby hills as I’d planned.

The 6-speed manual is really easy to use, nothing like they used to be, slipping easily from gear to gear, with plenty of time a clutch action that is much lighter than I remember.

The auto is convenient, but not responsive enough – even in sport mode.

The ride quality is accomplished and it should be because Holden has had many years to get it right.

Addressing the elephant in the room, V8s are not noted for their fuel economy, but the SS can be surprisingly frugal if driven sedately.

Expect to get around the mid 12s around town, compared with about 8.0L/100km from your average Jap car.

Put your foot down however and this figure climbs rapidly, easily excedding 15 or 16L/100km.

But, if you don’t drive long distances, it’s not that bigger an issue.

Soiunds like I’m trying to sell you one of the cars and in a way I am.

The opportunity to own a rear-wheel drive sports sedan like this is going to disappear quickly and, if the Falcon is any indication, prices could skyrocket – especially for the more desirable models like the sporty SS.

 

What’s it cost?

At the moment prices for the SS start from $43,990 for the ute or $47,490 for the sedan.

An auto adds $2200.

The wagon commands a $4200 premium and comes as an auto only.

Here’s the full price list from Holden:

 

SS
  • Sedan MT                                                    $47,490
  • Sedan AT                                                     $49,690
  • Sportwagon AT                                          $51,690
  • Ute MT                                                         $43,990
  • Ute AT                                                          $46,190

 

SS-V Redline
  • Sedan MT                                                    $54,990
  • Sedan AT                                                     $57,190
  • Sportwagon AT                                          $59,190
  • Ute MT                                                         $52,490
  • Ute AT                                                          $54,690

 

What we like?

  • Big
  • comfortable
  • Plenty of power
  • Sounds incredible
  • Very collectable
  • Looks intimidating, especially with black highlights
  • Head up display legible with polarised sunnies

 

What we don’t

  • Short warranty (grab one before Xmas and you get 7 years)
  • Computer graphics already starting to look dated
  • No warnings for school zones or speed cameras
  • No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
  • Driver’s seat only partially power adjustable
  • Rear view mirror has to be dimmed manually
  • Load cover on the ute was tight and difficult to fit
  • You get alerts but misses out on auto emergency braking

 

The bottom line

Grab one now and enjoy the car while it still feels fresh. Get the ute and stick with the manual because it will be more collectable in the years to come.  A spokesman for Holden recommended would be buyers get in quick to avoid disappointment. He pointed out you’ll have to take what you can get, because Holden is obviously no longer taking orders for bespoke items.

 

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.