FIRST DRIVE: Holden Commodore VFII

FIRST DRIVE: Holden Commodore VFII

Fear is a funny thing. It’s defined as “an unpleasant, often strong, emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of perceived danger. It causes a change in brain and organ function and in humans and animals is regulated by the process of cognition and learning.”

So the narrow strip of asphalt that winds through a grassy paddock in front of me shouldn’t be anywhere near as terrifying as it is. There are precious few trees to hit — none in any place you may run off — and no deadly drops to careen over. Just a private one-way road on a hillside.

But that does little to accurately describe the Collingrove Hillclimb, a tiny motorsport track among vineyards and wineries in South Australia’s Barossa Valley.

Although it is only 750m long and sits peacefully in that lush field, there is something utterly terrifying about Collingrove. Why? Probably because parts of it are almost vertical.

So what kind of vehicle am I driving? A tiny, ultra-nimble hillclimb special?

Nah, that’s far too sensible. How about a Holden Commodore SS-V Redline?


Let’s face it, if you’re going to drive such a ridiculous piece of road, you may as well go all or nothing. And all or nothing is what Holden have decided to do with the last Aussie-produced Commodore.

Much like Ford when it dumped the previously FPV-exclusive supercharged V8 into the standard XR8 Falcon, Holden has nicked the brawny 6.2-litre LS3 V8 from HSV for the latest incarnation of the Commodore. If you are going out, you may as well go out with the biggest bang you can.

The LS3 has serious bang — 304kW of power and 570Nm of torque propel the SS, SS-V, Calais V, Caprice V and SS-V Redline Commodores to 100km/h in a frankly unnecessary 4.9sec.

Aside from the prodigious grunt, perhaps the most important aspect of the VFII V8 upgrade is the noise. When the VF was launched, the motoring media and customers were almost unanimous in calling out its one major flaw — the V8 was far too quiet.

Holden has responded. Getting the V8 to produce belligerent sound has been one overriding factor in the car’s development, but not at the expense of refinement, drivability or federal noise restrictions.

The LS3 is fitted with Holden’s version of HSV’s switchable bi-modal exhaust system, which sees a valve open or close depending whether you want to let the neighbours sleep in or shake them out of bed.

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