There are some cars you just have a good feeling about.
This is a separate issue to reviewing cars objectively; this is about how a car fits into your personal lifestyle and satisfies what you want from it. For some, this will be a small front-drive hot hatch, others will prefer a turbocharged all-wheel drive sedan or perhaps a stylish convertible.
As a quick aside, it’s important to keep this in mind when reading car reviews. Ferrari’s 488 GTB is unquestionably a five-star car, but if you have two kids to transport, it’s useless. Likewise, a Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint might have its flaws, but if you’re a Ford fan who loves V8s, chances are it’s going to tick boxes.
Personally, I’ve always suspected a V8 ute would suit my needs nicely and having been fortunate enough to live with Holden’s SS-V Redline ute for five months these suspicions have been confirmed. As mentioned, this isn’t necessarily about whether it’s good or not – though the Redline ute is very good – but rather how it fits with what I like in a car.
Lacking any offspring (or friends) two seats was more than enough and with an annoying motorsport habit the enormous boot proved invaluable for carting bits and pieces. Then there’s the driving experience.
The Redline isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but having grown up with rear-wheel drive I’ll gladly trade some handling precision for the ability to help steer the car with the throttle, something that became alarmingly easy as the tyres wore down. The Bridgestones still had plenty of tread, but towards the end of the Redline’s tenure you certainly had to be awake when driving in the wet.
Thanks to the light clutch, driving a manual day-to-day was no chore, especially when the 6.2-litre V8’s bulk torque made skipping gears or idling along in traffic a breeze. It also made slowing for each set of traffic lights an opportunity to sharpen the heel-toe skills, though this behaviour had a fairly detrimental effect on the fuel consumption.
In these eco-conscious times an average of 15.2L/100km is pretty disastrous. However, when you consider that this includes two track sessions and plenty of unnecessary acceleration in order to hear the LS3 roar, it’s actually not too bad. It’s a figure that could be trimmed, but equally, if you’re worried about fuel consumption, a V8 ute isn’t for you.
As mentioned last month, one option I would consider is either a hardtop tonneau or a canopy, while one option I wouldn’t tick is the 20-inch wheels. They might help the Redline’s stance, but I worried about having such low-profile tyres when engaging in typical ute activities like driving on gravel roads.
Unusually, the Redline arrived with 10,000km on the clock; not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but many more than the typical press car. Perhaps as a consequence, the gearbox felt slightly freer but also a little notchier than most V8 Commodores, but we’ll put the latter down to press cars having a hard life. There were no reliability concerns, though the MyLink infotainment is buggy, particularly when it comes to pairing phones via Bluetooth.
My overriding impression of the Redline is that it’s a great ‘isolation’ car. There’s always plenty of new metal in the MOTOR garage and if I’d stepped out of something particularly focused, the Holden could feel a bit woolly and imprecise. However, the feelings soon faded and I always looked forward to getting back behind the wheel of the green machine.
Sadly, while the Holden Commodore name will live on, it will soon be the end of the road for this type of vehicle, a true do-everything performance car. As of October 2017, the V8 ute will merely be a chapter in Australia’s motoring history, and that really is a crying shame. For one, I’m not sure there’s any other car that gives me such a good feeling.
Extending the loan
Not extending it enough...
Hearing that V8 roar every day
Fuel This Month: 16.2L/100km
Distance: This Month 356km