Paul McShane purchased this Holden Commodore new with additional options for $55,000 (including all on-road costs). Paul McShane would buy this car again because: “Enjoyable drive, value retention. Last Aussie V8”
In my opinion, when buying an Australian car, you generally aren’t doing it for the unrivalled quality, but I’ve been surprised by the big Aussie. Its doors don’t shut with the satisfying clunk of a German, nor does everything just ‘work’ as consistently as a similar vintage Japanese offering, but I’ve had no major failures.
In fact, credit to General Motors, when one injector failed a few months outside warranty not only did they replace it under goodwill, but they replaced the rest citing a possibility of further failure. I also had the steering wheel replaced early due to poor finish on the leather perforations.
Something that has become more noticeable over time is the terrible paint quality of my ‘Red Hot’ example. It chips if you look sideways at it. My car has done 30,000 kms and has more chips in the bonnet than the 200,000 km Camry I use for Highway hacking. It really is the thinnest coat of paint I’ve come across.
But all in all the minor nature of the issues, coupled with the action of the manufacturer to act on issues, means a big tick in my eyes.
The beauty of a car like this is in the ownership experience. I’ve owned over 30 cars, a number of them V8 Holdens, but this one takes the cake. It’s not just how it goes, or how it sounds, it’s the knowledge that every time I jump behind the wheel I know I’m lucky to be driving the last of Holden’s V8 offerings.
Future generations won’t know, and likely won’t care or understand, the emotion attached to driving one of these things, but that makes the experience all the more satisfying.
In fact, driving it today, five years after purchase, is even more enjoyable than on day one.
After waiting patiently for Holden to announce the series 2 VF, I quickly set about working through my purchase when it was confirmed the LS3 would make it under the bonnet of the final Commodore.
I considered an HSV, and have owned them before, but I actually didn’t warm to the overstated styling of the Clubbies and GTS. No doubt a GTS would be the pinnacle of performance, but I just couldn’t go past the sleeker lines of the SS variants. Plus, did I want to go to shell out over $100k for any car, let alone a Holden? (Hindsight suggests it wouldn’t have been that crazy to have invested in a GTS, but hindsight never won a war, did it?).
The purchase of my 2016 variant was hassle-free, and I was well looked after by the dealer in metro Melbourne. I’m Tasmanian but a better price, coupled with a contact interstate, saw me head to the big island to make my purchase.
I managed to to secure a manual, with wing spoiler and 20 inch factory option wheels for under $52k. That seems a steal in retrospect.
I was expecting to be disappointed when some final 2017 special editions launched, and could feel the FOMO building before the were announced, but I thought they ended up being slightly underwhelming, and a lot dearer. Even the 2017 version of my Redline was going for $10k and more than I paid, and other than the build plate, tyre pressure monitoring was the headline additional feature, all in all, I was happy with my purchase timing and experience.
Aftersales care has been A1, as stated earlier some goodwill out of warranty work has been a highlight. I’m nervous for the future though, with Holden fading from memories and dealership signage, will I be able to get the inevitably required replacement parts when things fail? Time will tell…
I didn’t realise it in 2016, but this car is tremendous value.
It’s a naturally-aspirated 6.2 litre V8, rear drive, with over 300kW for well under $60k. It’s mad! Add to that the fact it hasn’t depreciated, it may actually have appreciated, and how could anyone criticise the price when new?
So the price, and the mechanical features associated with the drivetrain are absolutely undisputed. The interior is really great too, the seats are nice and big, aimed a your average Aussie frame, and the finishes are good. There seems to be more vinyl than leather though, which is a down step from my previous VE Calais, and the sheer amount of materials around the dash hasn’t helped it age gracefully, but all in all, it’s still a nice place to be, especially for the coin.
From a technology perspective the feature list isn’t as amazing. It feels like there was a confusion at Holden between ambition and ability. 2016 was a simpler time. Lane keeping was all about warnings in Aussie cars back then, no assistant to help pull you back in the lane. Some would like the less intrusive technology but I turn it off. It’s overly sensitive, and what’s the point anyway if it does nothing to help.
Similar story with collision detection. That’s permanently deactivated when I’m behind the wheel, it thinks a disaster is imminent regularly and inexplicably, and despite all the annoying beeps, no brakes are applied on your behalf, so again, what’s the point?
The most unforgivable thing though, and I’m not alone amongst VF owners here, is the infotainment system. It’s aged deplorably. The screen is big, but that’s the only highlight. The fonts look like they are out of a kindergarten child’s favourite book, the apps are all now redundant, and the bluetooth…. I don’t even want to start on the bluetooth.
‘Hang on, the phone’s just connecting, just give me a minute, or ten….’. This is the life of any VF owner.
I must end the features commentary on a positive though. Even in 2021 the head-up display in the Redline is outstanding. The customisable layouts are great, the display is big and bright, and I really miss it when I drive my RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid which has taken over daily duties. This is one feature that is an unforgivable omission from modern up spec vehicles – I’m looking at you Toyota.
Performance and economy were mutually-exclusive metrics when Holden dominated Aussie showrooms, and so it is the case with the Redline.
This was before it was common for an electric vehicle could get you to 100km/h in 3 seconds without a sniff of fuel.
And so, although future generations, and maybe even today’s generation, may not see the big deal of rowing a large, noisy gas guzzler to 100km/h in around 5 seconds, I still can’t get enough of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m under no illusions that I should be challenging anything with a Tesla badge at the lights, but I don’t know if pointing and shooting an electric rocket will ever give me the same satisfaction as what the ‘fuss’ of the LS2 manual gives working through the gears with the accompanying crackle and pop from the bi modal exhaust with the innovative Bailey tip.
Add to that the best steering weighting Holden ever achieved through the electrically-assisted steering, and super well sorted suspension, and you have a fitting performance farewell to Holden.
As for the economy flip side of the equation, well, the Redline is a better proposition now its consigned to once-monthly duties in our household. I really want to rate it highly for performance and economy, so I’ll say this – I’m getting better than manufacturer claimed consumption figures. There you go, economical it is.
Technology in the SSV… bluetooth that hardly works and it’s a pushrod V8.
I’m looking for some tech… oh yeah, tremendous head-up display – did I mention it’s big and bright?
Ride and handling are where this car surprises. It’s a big family hauler, but it eats up the miles in comfort and the handling is really impressive when pushed.
I optioned the 20-inch factory wheel upgrade, and I’ve changed the springs to reduce the massive gap between tyre and arch when stock, and I’ll admit, that’s impacted ride. But it’s really only when I have passengers I notice their discomfort, particularly in the back.
For the most part it’s just me, and it excels for what I want it to do. Definitely the pinnacle of Aussie-engineered handling in a big sedan.
It’s not often you love a car more five years down the track than the day you drove it out of the showroom, but that’s how I feel about the big Aussie.
I think that feeling will only increase with time. What Aussie manufacturing lacked in innovation and quality, it certainly made up for with passion and emotion, and it’s a shame our children will likely never have the option of buying an Aussie built car, let alone one with a V8 petrol engine, a manual gear box and rear wheel drivetrain.
But you know what, they won’t care. Dinosaurs are best left in the past, spoken about for generations, growing in reputation as the years pass, and never to be seen again.