It’s essentially the final incarnation of Holden’s evergreen performance utility vehicle, set to disappear when Holden ceases local manufacturing in late 2017. It fills a specific performance/load-carrying niche many Aussies have embraced for decades.
- Two-seater cabin is virtually identical to the front half of a Holden Commodore sedan, so there are no compromises in terms of driving position, comfort or equipment.
- Load area is a vast 2064 litres, making it suited to everything from building supplies and trades-related equipment, to recreation vehicles like a couple of dirt bikes. Or of course a cattle dog or two.
- The V8 engine is a proper high-performance unit, delivering gobs of smooth, tractable power with a strong top end and a glorious, old-school V8 note.
- Traction, steering and sense of driver connection are also excellent; worlds apart from lumbering, cumbersome 4x4 utes.
- For the premium it commands over the regular SS model, the Redline gains niceties like leather seats, sat-nav, colour digital instrument display, eight-speaker stereo and keyless entry and go. The upgrades the Redline carries to brakes and suspension are also worthwhile for keen drivers or anyone interested in track days.
- The Ute has stiffer suspension compared to the sedan, in deference to its load-carrying role. This can makes the ute feel livelier and a bit less docile than the sedan when driven with vigour, and care needs to be taken in hard driving or on slippery surfaces to maintain control of the rear of the vehicle.
- The V8 engine has decent efficiency, and marries happily with either six-speed manual or automatic transmission, but does have a thirst when driven hard.
- Rough-road ride can feel a bit unsettled at the rear, especially when it’s not loaded.
- Some sections of cabin trim and plastics feel less than premium.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
Ford offers a comparable Falcon ute body style, but not with V8 power. Ford’s performance variant is powered by a turbo-charged six-cylinder engine, which is hugely strong, but lacks the classic V8 sound, engagement and linear throttle response of the Holden. The Ford’s other issue is its comparatively basic rear suspension compared to the Holden, which can make it especially skittish and grip-shy on rough surfaces. The only other alternative for load-hauling is a separate-chassis 4x4 ute, all of which have ample off-road ability but are slow, cumbersome and not as polished on road.
Click here to read the full review on the Holden ute range.