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All Aussie Showdown 2005: Holden Commodore SS vs Monaro CV8 vs Commodore SV8 vs Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo vs Falcon XR8

By David Morley, 28 Jan 2019 Car Comparisons

All Aussie Showdown 2005 Holden Commodore SS vs Monaro CV8 vs Commodore SV8 vs Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo vs Falcon XR8 feature

Four sports V8s, a defending champ turbo and one very big surprise

I dunno, but I would have thought in an age where my phone can take videos and my toothpaste can clean and whiten, that maybe we’d have seen the last of Grand Canyon production tolerances.

This feature was originally published in MOTOR’s May 2005 issue

So how about these for anomalies: about two years ago, we carried out the same test and Ford’s XR6 Turbo stuck it right up the V8s to record an overall win. Okay, so the Holden gear has since copped the upgrade to VZ, but even against the same opposition, this time around this particular XR6T just wouldn’t have cut it.

Not sure what the real problem is, but it lacked front-end accuracy (more than usual) and the motor was off the pace at the top end. A 14.81-second quarter mile tells the sorry tale.

Meanwhile you’d expect the 6.0-litre, 19-inch-wheeled HSV stuff to show the rest of the pack the way at Eastern Creek, too, right? So how come the humble SS with a full 47kW less than the Clubbie (and a shedload less bottom-end torque) was 0.7-seconds quicker around the Creek’s hotmix?

Be honest, if it isn’t production variations that are the cause of this oddness, what else can it be? Exactly. The point is that even though the SS we had on test was an absolute jet, is that any guarantee that the one you buy from the showroom floor will be just as sharp? Er, um, maybe not.

On the other hand, there’s not much we can do about all this because these were the cars that were presented for us to flog around far-western NSW, so I guess we just have to go with it. Still, I’d be darker than a Centura’s sump oil if my brand spanking new HSV got cleaned up by a Holden SS.

Classic MOTOR: Falcon XR8 v Commodore SS comparison

Speaking of the SS, there’s a fair bit to like about the VZ version. It gets those terrific front chairs that are both comfy and supportive over a long distance and are clearly the primo pews of this lot. Okay, they’re not as good as the ones in the VY Clubbie R8, but not much ever was.

The SS is also less plasticky inside than the $7k-cheaper SV8, with a better tiller and classier instrumentation where the SV8 feels distressingly like a taxi with bigger nuts.

Its 1:55.26 around Eastern Creek couldn’t be bettered by anything else and a 14.2-seconds 400m dash along with a 6.1-second 0-100 time is right up there for anything with a Holden badge.

The SV8, meanwhile, was a tenth quicker down the quarter and half a tenth faster to 100, thanks to its extra power across the range and 15kg advantage. But it was nearly two seconds slower around the track. Blame the different tyres and the fact that the SS gets slightly firmer springs and dampers.

Mind you, the extra firmness in the SS didn’t destroy its on-road ability in terms of ride and believe us, the roads at the back of Bourke really tested that.

The Monaro’s on-paper claims of 260kW equated to exactly the same advantage over the 250kW SS, SV8 and even the 260kW XR8 on C&V’s dyno, but Monaro’s pair of dips in the mid-range meant it was seven-tenths slower than the SS down the quarter-mile and blasted to 100 in slightly less than the SV8 (6.02 against 6.08).

Classic MOTOR: Monaro VZ review

It also rides reasonably well on the bumps and lumps of back roads, but given that it’s nearly 20 grand more than the SV8 and can’t lap Eastern Creek as quickly, it loses a few points. And is it just me, or does that new Nostril-Dude bonnet make the whole thing look a bit piecemeal?

Against that background, the XR6 Turbo was, like we said, disappointing to say the least. Okay, Falcons have never been too fleet on a track, but nearly three seconds off the SS’s time ain’t no laughing matter. Same goes for its quarter mile time of 14.8secs, although the 0-100km/h number of 6.25secs is quicker than the quarter-mile result would suggest.

But more than the bald numbers, the Turbo just felt flat on the road. The ride is good and the thing still makes a terrific noise, but the off-centre dead-spot in the steering seems worse than ever and you still get the feeling you’re sitting above the roll-centre. The interior has the Holdens kicked to bits, however, and the new six-speed ’box features a better shift action than the Holden gear, too.

In contrast, the other Ford, the XR8, felt a bit fitter than others we’ve sampled. It spun the rollers to the tune of 211kW at the treads, flung itself to 100km/h in 6.1secs and then blew the rest of this category into the weeds with a standing quarter time of 13.99 – the only one to dip under 14-dead.

Once again, the Falcon bogey turned out to be the racetrack, and the XR8’s 1:57.86 was just two-tenths faster than the Turbo, despite it feeling much fitter out in the real world.

The changes to the BA Falcon in MkII form have made a big difference, to be sure, and the six-speed gearbox would be at the top of that list. But even the firmer springs that reduce diagonal pitch on turn-in, can’t hide the fact that the engine is heavy and carried high in the engine bay thanks to those big fat Double Overhead Cams (DOHC) heads.

But it remains a great road car with good ride and a great interior let down only by the seats (leather at least). And there were many who reckoned that in the bright red of our test car, it was the looker of this five-car gang. In the end, the final decision was a split one. Only two cars got any judges’ votes, the XR6T, XR8 and CV8 missing out altogether.

Both Taylor and my very large self just couldn’t go past the SS’s scorching lap-time and its superior seating and interior over the SV8, but it wasn’t enough. Value was the difference.

Cockburn, Evans and Lucky Bastard all plumped for the SV8, quoting its good straight-line performance and the fact that you’d have seven grand left over to add what ever the hell seats and wheels you wanted. Fair enough.

13 cars, 5 categories, one winner on the All Aussie Showdown

Fast Facts

  Commodore SV8 Commodore SS Monaro CV8 Falcon XR6 Turbo Falcon XR8
Engine 5.7L V8, OHV 4.0L Inline-6, DOHC, turbo 5.4L V8, DOHC
Power 250kW @ 5600rpm 260kW @ 5600rpm 240kW @ 5250rpm 260kW @ 5250rpm
Torque 470Nm @ 4800rpm 500Nm @ 4000rpm 450Nm @ 2000rpm 500Nm @ 4250rpm
Weight 1639kg 1654kg 1692kg 1685kg 1795kg
Fuel consumption 13.05L/100km 13.51L/100km 13.95L/100km 13.57L/100km 14.06L/100km
Price $43,990 $51,290 $60,490 $46,350 $51,275

Dyno Results

With 240kW on paper, Ford’s XR6T may have been the least powerful in peak power, sitting in a clear gap between the performance sixes and V8s, but its 193kW is still 8kW up on the winning XR6T from last time and about 9kW up from what we’ve seen as normal.

It did taper off sharply in the last 500rpm though, explaining the lack of top-end punch on the track. Its peak was also proportionately down on the V8s, equating to a 24 percent power loss through the drivetrain. Most impressive was its mass of mid-range power and torque was clearly better than not just all the V8s in class, but every other car in this entire test.

Onto the 250 kilowatters, the SV8 and SS had virtually identical power curves and a 208kW peak, less than 1kW apart. Impressive consistency there, and a 20 percent power loss. Up to the 260kW Monaro and XR8, nowhere in the range does the Ford better the Monaro, much less the SS.

The XR8 matches the mid-range of the CV8, but does possess smoother power and torque curves. But the Monaro has more low down, and the XR8’s 211kW power curve flattens out at 5900rpm, the Monaro’s keeps going to its 300rpm higher limit until it reaches 218kW.

Interestingly, the hotter the Holdens got, the less power they produced. The Ford V8s, however, loved the heat, increasing by a kilowatt or two on their second and third runs.

Drag Run

  Commodore SV8 Commodore SS Monaro CV8 Falcon XR6 Turbo Falcon XR8
0-10km/h 0.52sec 0.53sec 0.51sec 0.64sec 0.46sec
0-20km/h 0.97sec 0.96sec 0.94sec 1.13sec 0.91sec
0-30km/h 1.55sec 1.55sec 1.60sec 1.51sec 1.46sec
0-40km/h 2.15sec 2.08sec 2.14sec 1.98sec 1.96sec
0-50km/h 2.66sec 2.64sec 2.63sec 2.40sec 2.53sec
0-60km/h 3.14sec 3.22sec 3.19sec 2.93sec 2.92sec
0-70km/h 3.72sec 3.80sec 3.74sec 3.82sec 3.76sec
0-80km/h 4.55sec 4.72sec 4.66sec 4.61sec 4.51sec
0-90km/h 5.17sec 5.57sec 5.52sec 5.35sec 5.22sec
0-100km/h 6.08sec 6.14sec 6.02sec 6.25sec 6.11sec
0-110km/h 7.10sec 6.91sec 6.90sec 7.49sec 7.33sec
0-120km/h 8.04sec 8.25sec 8.21sec 8.61sec 8.59sec
0-400m 14.12sec @
166.7km/h
14.21sec @
166.4km/h
14.28sec @
165.6km/h
14.81sec @
156.9km/h
13.99sec @
166.4km/h

XR6T was tricky to balance between bogging down and tyre spin, but wasn’t as sharp as hoped and 8km/h down on trap speed than our best speed recorded. XR8 was a jet by comparison nailing the quarter mile in 13.99secs.

The SV8 launched with just enough wheelspin to keep it in the meat of its torque curve and posted a 6.08-seconds to 100km/h. The SS was within spitting distance of the SV8 as was the CV8 which scored its best 0-100km/h time by four-tenths. Apart from the XR6T, there’s just three-tenths and 3km/h between all the V8s’ ETs and speeds.

Track Results

  Commodore SV8 Commodore SS Monaro CV8 Falcon XR6 Turbo Falcon XR8
Lap Time 1min 57.07sec 1min 55.26sec 1min 57.21sec 1min 58.05sec 1min 57.86sec
Top Speed 200km/h 201km/h 203km/h 195km/h 202km/h

Not the fastest XR6 Turbo we’ve driven; handling and brakes didn’t feel noticeably better than nat-atmo XR6. It was 3.5secs faster than the XR6 around the Creek, 12km/h faster down the straight, though all this was more down to its power advantage than extra corner speed.

Three of the V8s were within one second of each other. The XR8’s big V8 feels sharper than the Turbo, but rolls on its nose more, and like the GT, difficult to minimise oversteer under power – and just 0.2secs faster than the Turbo.

The CV8 was a mild disappointment: it understeered more, then once the rear tyres got warm, started oversteering. Brakes were better than the sedans but it was slower – albeit just a few tenths – than the SV8. The Monaro’s slippery body helped it top a fastest-in-group 203km/h down the straight, but all the V8s were within 3km/h anyway.

The budget-priced SV8 offered instant power and strong urge from 3500rpm. Despite bodyroll, different rubber and mild understeer, it still puts its power down better than the Fords.

Then the Commodore SS hit the track. Its 201km/h straight speed was average, its woeful brakes were dangerously soggy on the second lap, but it fired out the biggest surprise of the day, the fastest lap of 1:55.26: three-quarters of a second faster than the next fastest, HSV’s ClubSport. Even its second lap, that ran wide at turn two thanks to the brakes dying, was just 0.15 slower than the Clubbie’s fastest.

Why? An HSV-equalling and dead straight power curve that’s bettered only above 5000rpm, fantastic mid-corner grip from the Bridgestones that also offer unrivalled ability to put its power to the ground. Felt fastest, was fastest. Who said the Gen III was dead?

Judges' Scores

2005 Holden Commodore SV8

Judges JT DE DM PC LB
Performance/10 7 6 8 8 7
Dynamics/10 7 7 6 7 7
Driveability/10 7 9 5 7 7
Value/10 8 9 7 8 7
Total/40 29 31 26 30 28
GRAND TOTAL 144/200
WINNER

2005 Holden Commodore SS

Judges JT DE DM PC LB
Performance/10 9 9 9 8 5
Dynamics/10 8 7 7 8 6
Driveability/10 7 6 6 7 6
Value/10 7 8 5 6 6
Total/40 31 30 27 29 23
GRAND TOTAL 140/200

2005 Holden Monaro CV8

Judges JT DE DM PC LB
Performance/10 7 6 8 8 7
Dynamics/10 7 7 6 7 7
Driveability/10 7 7 6 7 7
Value/10 6 5 4 5 5
Total/40 26 25 24 27 26
GRAND TOTAL 128/200

2005 Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo

Judges JT DE DM PC LB
Performance/10 6 5 6 6 7
Dynamics/10 8 8 6 6 7
Driveability/10 7 7 7 6 6
Value/10 7 7 7 5 7
Total/40 28 27 26 23 27
GRAND TOTAL 131/200

2005 Ford Falcon XR8

Judges JT DE DM PC LB
Performance/10 8 6 7 7 6
Dynamics/10 8 7 6 6 6
Driveability/10 6 6 7 5 6
Value/10 7 6 5 4 6
Total/40 29 25 25 22 24
GRAND TOTAL 125/200