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Elvis Festival
2008 Elvis Festival

Road Test


Holden Commodore SV6

by Stephen Walker

6th March, 2008


Holden Commodore SV6 (VE Series) 
Click on the image for a larger view

Image is the name of the game for the Holden Commodore SV6.

But some may suspect it's all about putting the past into the future.

Perspectives can certainly lead to unreconciled viewpoints.

But, clearly, here is a big car with up-to-date styling and, as a flashback to the good old days, the test car fronts-up with an optional stripes package.

Back in the good old days, one of the image cars from the Holden line-up was the SS. It came along in a handful of trendy colours such as Infa Red, Lettuce Alone and Ultra Violet. That original SS was based on the Holden Belmont sedan and it was amongst a myriad of HQ models. It was so basic that it didn't even have armrests on the front doors. But it did put Holden right up there with performance motoring at a very competitive price in an era when V8s were favourable looked upon. Competitors, in those days, for Holden's base model 'muscle' car were the then new Chrysler Valiant Charger and various Ford Falcon V8s, together with Holden's own six-cylinder Torana GTR XU-1. The HQ SS was cheaper than the HQ Monaro GTS.

Now we have a newly striped Australian six-cylinder family car that takes on a decidedly retro-look with an external appearance package of stripes. This may lead some observers to quip that the stripes are "over-the-top". And they would be quite correct as these stripes are right over the top.

Be assured, though, that these go-fast stripes did not make the test car go any faster. In fact, we proved it when we discovered that the go-fast stripes made no difference at all with the speed of the car. The simple fact is that the Holden Commodore SV6 is as fast with the stripes as it is without.

But the stripes certainly do add a visual effect and this may or may not please some.

Today's VE series Holden Commodore is the nation's most popular line-up of cars. And on this occasion we put the Commodore SV6 through an 897 km drive programme.

Fitted with the higher performance (as opposed to high-performance) 3.6 litre V6 engine, which provides 195 kW of power at 6,500 rpm and 340 Nm of torque at 2,600 rpm, it was matched with a 6-speed manual transmission. The test Commodore SV6 was priced from $39,990 without options (such as the metallic paint at $400) and accessories (such as the dealer fitted stripes) and, also, without the traditional add-ons like dealer delivery fee and the state/territory fees/charges/taxes/levies/duties.

Holden Commodore SV6 (VE sreies) 

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The Holden Commodore is a very well known vehicle, so I won't cover too much about the basic car. Other, though, than to say that the SV6 has a firmer suspension and a slightly reduced ride height compared to the popular Commodore Omega.

The SV6 features, as standard, ESP - Electronic Stability Programme incorporating: Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Electronic Brake Assist (EBA) and Traction Control System (TCS) - a technical innovation which is widely accepted as a mandatory item for modern-day cars, especially those with 'sporty' overtones. Other standard features include four-wheel disc brakes, dual exhaust, 18" alloy wheels (4), 17" steel spare wheel, sports body kit and rear spoiler, front fog lights, leather wrapped steering wheel and 4 airbags (although from later this month all Commodore passenger cars will have 6 airbags) and air conditioning. Other regular VE Commodore features such as trip computer, tachometer, steering wheel controls for audio and trip meter, adjustable steering wheel (both height and reach), cruise control, CD player (single disc) with audio system, automatic headlights, cloth seats (leather facings are optional in the SV6), electric seat adjustment for driver's seat, lumbar support for the driver's seat, power windows (express down for the front windows), centre console storage bin with a lid that acts as a centre armrest and central locking.

On the road, the Commodore SV6, like all Commodores, demonstrates its mild mannered driving characteristics. The abundant interior offers all the space anyone could ever need this side of a prestige car. However, luxury is not a part of the SV6, it is more a case of suitably equipped rather than extravagantly equipped.

Behind the wheel, the SV6 delights the driver with a driver's footrest for comfort, suitable and useful storage bins on the front doors, good acceleration, good handling and a discreet exhaust note.

However, there are some disappointments with the Commodore. The cheap appearance of some plastic interior components is an unnecessary cost saving measure. And a word of warning, if you 'tap' the rear of the steering wheel hub to the car radio as you sit at the traffic lights as you sing the golden oldies you will be disappointed with the lack of 'tune' in the cheap plastic.

Another disappointment is the gearing for the 'top' overdrive (6th gear). You need to come back to top gear (4th) if you're driving up a long steepish hill, because the overdrive will diminish the car's ability to climb some long hills.

At nearly 4.9 metres long, the VE Commodore is a big car. And the size is more appreciated on a long trip, more so than around town. But nevertheless, the Holden Commodore SV6 is a pleasant car to occupy, either as a passenger or as a driver. Although back seat passengers would be more comfortable, in my opinion, if the seat base was a little higher.

There are cars much more sporty than the Commodore SV6 in the high 30s and low 40s price range. But the Commodore SV6 offers size as the prize. That, no doubt, will appeal to specific buyers who desire/require space for their motoring exploits.

In the image stakes, the Holden Commodore SV6 is a winner. It's like a base model car that shows just a little bit a panache to appeal to someone who doesn't want to be just anyone.

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Other Holden content: here.

General Motors content: here.

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