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First look: Holden’s hot-shoe hero steps out

Bronzed Aussie: Holden’s new VF Commodore SS V has been revealed in a new colour called Fantale, a throwback to concept Holdens of yore, such as the Hurricane.

Holden Commodore SS V goes public ahead of its big day out at Daytona


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15 Feb 2013

HERE’S the car that Holden hopes can achieve what its predecessor could not – a long and successful export run to North America.

The new VF Commodore SS V will be shipped across the Pacific as the Chevrolet SS Sports Sedan, following in the wheel tracks of the VE Commodore-based Pontiac G8 that came to a sticky end in the global financial crisis in 2009 when a desperate General Motors trashed its Pontiac arm.

This time, the car has been designed with GM's giant Chevrolet brand in mind, with customer surveys in the Land of the Free playing a big part in the redesign, especially of the interior.

And with another new-generation Commodore already on the drawing board at Holden for a 2017 release, GM will be hoping for a strong start for its "four-door Camaro".

The SS V – the “sports luxury” flagship of new range – is the second shoe to drop in Holden’s protracted roll out of the VF range which started on Sunday with the public unveiling of the “luxury sport” range-topper, the Calais V.

The entire range is not due to go on sale until June, hence Holden’s reluctance to let it all hang out while it still has four months’ of VE sales to get through.

The next VF chapter will unfurl on the other side of the world this weekend when former Holden chairman and managing director Mark Reuss – now GM North America president – unwraps the Chevrolet SS ahead of the Daytona 500 in which the Aussie car will carry GM’s hopes in the world’s biggest tin-top racing category.

Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux said the new VF SS V was a class above any performance vehicle ever created by Holden.

“When it came to our sport luxury range, we wanted to create an Australian performance car that would be at home just about anywhere in the world,” he said.

“VF Commodore’s pure driving enjoyment and advanced technology are good enough to seriously challenge any large performance sedan on the planet.

“We’ve also packaged VF’s performance and technology in a stylish and sophisticated design that will be right at home on any street from George Street, Sydney, to Fifth Avenue, New York City.

“And this will become reality when Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North America, unveils the VF Commodore as their top-of-the-range Chevrolet sports sedan at the world-famous Daytona International Speedway in Florida tomorrow.”

The left-hand-drive Chev SS will be essentially the same as the Australian SS V, built on the same Holden production line in Adelaide and mounted on the Holden developed Zeta rear-drive platformed that underpinned the previous VE Commodore and related Chevrolet Camaro built in Canada.

No powertrain or performance figures have been given, but expect at least as much performance as the 270kW 6.0-litre VE Commodore SS.

As well, expect the new model to be more efficient, with the SS V getting the same lightweight aluminium panels – bonnet and boot – and other weight-saving measures, along with aerodynamic gains and powertrain refinements to rein in the thirst from the current 12.2 litres per 100km.

Externally, the new SS V is distinguished by its black-finished front grille, with a smaller opening at the top and large lower opening straddled by a black bumper.

The sheet metal is identical to that of other VF Commodores, including the Calais V, but it loses the big chrome grille of the Calais and gains a lot more black, include a rear diffuser, wheels and side “vents”.

The black theme is continued inside where the light and breezy tone of the Calais make way for serious black, including the ubiquitous fake carbon fibre, relieved with some chrome trim.

Like the Calais, the SS-V gets fake suede trim across the doors and dashboard - in a choice of light or dark - along with with perforated leather upholstery.

The same “ice blue” ambient lighting is included, but the SS V gets red-hued dials and eight-inch LCD screen home screen in place of the softer blue of the Calais.

Outside, four big-bore exhausts pipes show its sporting intent.

The rear spoiler has been scaled back to a little boot lip device, although more gung-ho alternatives are expected from the Holden options list.

Holden chief designer Richard Ferlazzo said the SS V had grown up somewhat from the previous generation, in a style that he describes as “assertive, not aggressive”.

“We didn’t want to scare women and small children,” he said.

Holden cautions that the car in the photos is an “amped-up show car”, but close to “production intent”.

Holden exterior design manager Peter Hughes said: “We wanted to put something out there that made a bit of an impact.

“The design was an exercise in exploring future options and gauging buyer reactions.

“We may get some polarised opinions, but that’s all part of the process of experimenting with different ideas and anticipating market trends.”

In other words, if the feedback for the bright Fantale colour scheme and black trim combo goes down well, expect to see it included in the palette.

The show car sits on hand-made 20-inch alloy wheels in gloss black that might or might not make it on to the production line.

The SS-V shares all the new high-tech features of the Calais V, including reverse traffic alert, head-up display, blind spot alert, forward collision alert, lane departure warning and auto park assist.

As well, the new interior layout is the same, with entirely new controls – including armrest-mounted window buttons – to give a much cleaner, more logical driver interface.

GM’s MyLink system will be standard, operated through the centrally mounted screen and capable of connecting to the internet via a mobile phone.

The flat-bottomed sports steering wheel – slightly smaller than before – gets an array of buttons to control not only the Bluetooth phone, cruise control and audio functions but also the new crash warning system and lane departure warning.

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