Holden Commodore SS review
Behind the wheel of the endangered V8
- V8 engine produces 260kw
- Spacious interior and boot
- Well equipped with driver aids and connectivity technologies
- Uses a lot of petrol
- Interior is mediocre
Price$ 45,190.00 (AUD)
Driving a V8 Commodore is about as Australian as it gets. The rumble, burble and gargle of the engine is behind one of Australia’s great pastimes, the V8 supercars, and it has helped birth national icons from the late Peter Brock to Mark Skaife.
Today’s rendition of the V8 engine could be the last in a long line of Commodores. Most car companies are shifting to turbocharged 4-cylinder engines because they’re economical. Holden remains tight lipped on whether it will manufacture V8 engines after 2016.
This means the V8 engine in the Commodore SS Storm being reviewed by Good Gear Guide could be the last chapter in a 36-year saga.
Powering the 5-door SS Storm is a 6.0L V8 engine delivering 260 kilowatts. It tumbles along at a sedentary 1000 revs per minute (rpm), cruising quietly in slow moving traffic, no matter if the car’s transmission is set to Drive or Sport.
Only when leaden feet begin to weigh the throttle down does the V8 engine scream. Bury it and the engine roars into life, savagely eating up tarmac until it's time for the brakes to reign in the 1744kg car. This V8 has a baritone sound that climbs in pitch as it nears the 5600rpm redline, and it’s a shame it can’t be heard unless the SS is being handled roughly. Only once, on a quiet Sunday, could we feel the faint burble of the engine at a set of lights. It sent chills down our spine.
A week refuelling the 71 litre tank in the Commodore SS provides crude insight into why large engines are endangered. Holden claims the SS will drink 11.5L of fuel every 100 kilometres. It’s achievable driving on a highway, but on the streets of Sydney, the figure we averaged was an inefficient 21L.
The Commodore is a large, cumbersome 5-seater. You’re always aware of the car’s size as you lurch between gaps in traffic. Other performance vehicles cling to the road with a low centre of gravity. The SS stands tall enough to tower over other sedans.
We are impressed by how manageable it feels in the bends. The heavy V8 upfront causes some understeer, though there’s the sense the engine churns enough power to correct it with oversteer. Much like its forefathers, the power of the Commodore SS is best saved for motorway straights.
The sedan’s enormity bodes well for the interior. Generous seats are upholstered in suede and with select accents dressed in leather. The two-tone of faux carbon fibre is thematically worked into the dash, along with an embroidered badge that reads ‘Storm’. Three grown men could be seated in the rear and they’d have room to spare. Then there’s the boot.
One of the gifts on our Christmas list was the making of a garden bed. After a trip to the hardware store, we easily filled the boot with seven bags of compost, enough timber for the framework, gardening tools and a roll of mesh, all with space to spare. The Commodore’s generous size is a noteworthy luxury feature in itself.
Some racing paraphernalia and extras separate the Storm edition from the run-of-the-mill SS. It packs a decent satellite navigation system and front fog lamps, with cosmetic additions including 18-inch alloy wheels and red stitching in the interior.
This kit is on top of the long list of tech features. Centred in the console is an 8-inch touchscreen used to manage Holden’s MyLink infotainment system. The screen displays footage from the rear view camera, plays DVDs, works with your smartphone over Bluetooth, or over USB and auxiliary for other mp3 devices.
Good Gear Guide found MyLink worked well with mainstream smartphone brands, such as those from Apple and Samsung, although we did have trouble holding calls and streaming music to the Xiaomi Mi4 we were testing. (In Holden’s defence, this is not a smartphone sold in Australia.)
There was no need to re-establish the Bluetooth connection with our Galaxy Note Edge during short breaks; however, each day we needed to cue the system to pair with the smartphone.
The well-equipped tech gear in the Holden lacks the refinement characterising European rivals. The screens have a lower resolution, the tech is less intuitive and less pride has been taken with the appearance of the software.
Compensating is the fact this car comes with technologies previously unavailable at its price. Aiding drivers is an assisted parking mode, a rear view camera and an alert for cars lingering in blind spots, of which the latter works by illuminating an icon in side mirrors. The tech might be lacking in finesse, but it is all there, and for under $50,000.
Holden’s SS has long been the champion of the blue-collar man, and the 2014 VF Storm nobly continues the tradition. The spacious interior brims with features, while the ride is comfortable during everyday commutes. Come to an open road and the car will belt out more than enough power. And yet we understand why the future of the V8 engine is in doubt.
Turbocharged 4-cylinders are delivering comparable power at half the petrol consumption. No doubt the legendary V8 engine is a part of Australian history, but it just might be a part we must let go.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Google Daydream VR headset
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Lexar® Portable SSD
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Huawei Mate 9
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Acer Swift 7
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Surface Pro 4
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Dell XPS 13 laptop
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- Lessons from SXSW: Life without Uber is mostly fine
- US Army shows off its 'hoverbike' delivery drone
- Intel buys Mobileye for $15 billion to challenge Nvidia for the future of self-driving cars
- First full-scale Hyperloop system is almost ready for takeoff
- Intel showed how 5G networking will power VR and self-driving cars
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Oppo R9s Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
- HTC U Ultra phone full, in-depth review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- CCInfrastructure Business AnalystACT
- FTAgile Test AnalystQLD
- FTSnr Salesforce Technical Consultant/Architect Global IT Company - SydneyNSW
- CCProduct Design AnalystNSW
- FTAssociate Consultant - IT Project ServicesVIC
- TPBusiness Analyst - Infrastructure ProjectQLD
- FTDatabase Modelling SpecialistACT
- TPProgram ArchitectQLD
- FTStorage Engineer (HDS)NSW
- FTICT Client Services ManagerQLD
- TPJunior Business AnlystVIC
- FTSenior Software Engineer x 2 - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)NSW
- FTFull Stack Web Developer .NET or JAVANSW
- FT.Net Solutions DeveloperSA
- FTSenior System/Network EngineerACT
- FTServer Engineer l Windows l VMWare l Active DirectoryNSW
- TPSystems ManagerQLD
- FTJunior Applications SupportQLD
- CCFullstack .Net DeveloperNSW
- CCBusiness Analyst- Data GovernanceNSW
- TPFront End DeveloperNSW
- TPPerformance Test Analyst - Perth BasedQLD
- FTHelpdesk TechnicianVIC
- CCChange and Communications ManagerQLD