Holden reveal the final Aussie Commodores they'll ever make
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Rush on final V8 Commodores
Holden has confirmed October 20 is the scheduled closure date for its Elizabeth manufacturing plant in Adelaide - and now comes the plan for the Commodore to sign off with a roaring V8 finale.
In recent months Holden dealers have been reporting a late surge in demand for V8 Commodores.
Enthusiasts eager to acquire some end-of-the-line LS3 eight-cylinder goodness now have even more reason to form a queue because three limited edition models will go into production later this year.
Building on the SS-V Redline sedan and ute models and the luxury Calais V sedan — as well as recycling a couple of nameplates from Commodore history — will see Holden introduce Motorsport Edition and Director sedan models and a Magnum ute for collectors and enthusiasts to squabble over.
Holden teased the first details of the limited edition cars back in December allowing customers to register initial interest on a microsite.
Full details have now been released and for the New Zealand market the build numbers will be 151 Motorsport Editions and 51 each of the Director and Magnum.
The ‘51’ theme is a nod to Greg Murphy’s best-known race number and his success racing Commodores. The Kiwi market cars are additional to the 1200 Motorsport Editions, 400 Directors and 300 Magnum utes being built for Australia.
Each car is individually numbered with unique option codes and comes with a commemorative presentation case. Motorsport Edition owners will also receive a Biante 1:18 scale model of the car.
In Australia a bespoke limited edition car cover is available as an option but Holden NZ has elected to make it a standard part of the package. The collectability can be further enhanced by electing to skip the pre-delivery procedure so the cars will reach customers with the seats still wrapped in protective plastic.
Holden intends to auction several cars for charity purposes and is anticipating particular interest in specific build numbers — with 05 being the most highly sought after.
For Kiwi buyers, each of the cars numbered 51 will hold plenty of interest while the number 97 Motorsport Edition carries some recent V8 Supercar significance.
Customers can order the limited edition cars starting today (January 19) but production doesn’t kick-off till June and deliveries are scheduled to run from August through to the end of 2017.
In Australia The Motorsport Edition and Magnum are both available with six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmission choices while the Director is automatic only. All of Holden New Zealand’s allocation will be automatic cars.
Magnum pricing will be $74,290 while the Director and Motorsport Edition are both listed at $85,290. Standard VF Series II SS-V Redline sedan pricing is currently $75,990 while the SS-V Redline ute is $64,490 and the Calais V with the LS3 engine option is $73,990.
Extra kilowatts aren’t part of the equation for the trio of Model Year 17 Limited Edition Commodore V8s that will headline the final run of Aussie-built Holdens.
Instead the Holden engineers have worked on the chassis and braking credentials of the Commodore, further refining the SS-V Redline package that was the highlight of the late-2015 VF Series II introduction.
An mid-December afternoon at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit behind the wheel of some early units revealed the Commodore will sign-off with the sharpest driving dynamics package it’s ever delivered.
The powertrain used across all three special edition models is the 6162cc LS3 V8 offering the 304kW output level and 570Nm of torque that was introduced with the VF II upgrade.
The performance enhancements have come from the Holden engineers delving into content used across the global Zeta platform vehicle programme, primarily the Chevrolet SS and Camaro as well as the Caprice-based police patrol car developed for the US.
For instance, the cooling performance of the engine and transmission has been upgraded to the GM Level 3 Track rating (a 24-Hour race pace test regime at the Milford, Michigan proving ground) joining the Corvette, Camaro and Cadillac CTS. This includes an auxiliary automatic transmission cooler and the engine oil cooler used on the LSA (supercharged) engine.
A Holden first is the adoption of the Magnetic Ride Control suspension — for the two sedans — while the Brembo brake package introduced on the SS-V Redline gets developed further to feature cross-drilled brake rotor package (front and rear) with a lighter two-piece alloy front ‘‘hat’’ design that boosts stopping power and fade resistance and reduces unsprung weight.
Gloss black finish 20-inch split forged alloy wheels (the optional size for the SS-V Redline) and Bridgestone Potenza high performance tyres are part of the package.
‘‘We had a great base with the 6.2-litre LS3 V8 engine but the addition of a Holden developed driver mode control system, featuring Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) adaptive suspension, for the sedans and the introduction of our track-focused FE3 suspension for the ute, have given these cars even more to offer,’’ said Daniel Pinnuck, the lead development engineer on the limited edition programme.
For the sedan models the Driver Mode Control has influence over the MRC damper response, the electric power steering, the bi-modal exhaust and torque vectoring in the Touring, Sport and Performance modes.
In the Performance mode the Competitive calibration for the steering is enabled, torque vectoring is switched on and the MRC suspension adopts its Performance setting.
The Motorsport Edition also has Track mode accessed by pressing the Driver Mode Control button two more times in quick succession. It reduces traction control and stability control intervention and there is launch control and a more responsive throttle pedal mode.
Each of the cars is slightly different in not only specification but also focus.
The Motorsport Edition — bearing the ‘KOM (King of the Mountain) option code — celebrates the on-track success of the Commodore over nearly 40 years with over 460 wins in Australian Touring Car Championship and V8 Supercars competition.
A special visual treatment for the Motorsport Edition includes red surrounds for the daytime running lights, hood vents, a Phantom Black roof finish, either red or black mirror scalps (depending on exterior colour choice), red-lined 20-inch split forged alloy wheels and Motorsport Edition decals along with either a lip spoiler or optional rear wing.
Inside new performance eight-way power adjustable front seats are also heated and there is an embroidered instrument panel.
Other equipment highlights are carried over from the SS-V Redline including steering wheel paddle shifters, colour Head-Up display, nine speaker Bose audio, rain sensor wipers and Lane Departure Warning/Forward Collision Alert features.
The dynamics of the Motorsport Edition have been tightened up further by the development of a High-rate subframe bush for the rear suspension. This is a revised rear cradle bearing with increased radial and vertical rates that improves rear suspension control under high lateral loads and heavy braking.
The Phillip Island experience was one of driving a fast car on a seriously quick track.
The Motorsport Edition felt the most securely planted through the sweeping multi-apex corners and elevation and camber changes at the Island.
As a first-time visitor to the MotoGP track it was as much about finding the sighting points and some unconventional lines that allow the circuit to flow. Faced with that challenge I quickly reached the conclusion that enhanced braking and cleverly tuned suspension were of far more benefit to me than a few more kilowatts would have been.
Naming a Holden model Director will raise some eyebrows. The original HDT Director is arguably the most controversial model in Commodore history as it became the tipping point which ended Holden’s relationship with Peter Brock in 1987.
The Calais V provides the baseline for the sports luxury limited edition (build option code DIR) which features a Phantom black roof, hood vents and a unique lip spoiler on the bootlid.
Steering wheel paddle shifters, alloy pedals, the heated performance front seats and an embroidered instrument panel are part of the Director specification along with track-rated engine and transmission cooling enhancements.
It has the Magnetic Ride Control suspension the sports-luxury focus means the high rate rear sub-frame bush and the Track mode setting aren’t part of the Director package.
Inspiration for the new Magnum (build option code UTE) name comes from the original Magnum developed by Holden Dealer Team in 1983.
It’s based on the SS-V Redline ute specification with the addition of the heated performance seats and an embroidered instrument panel along with a hard tonneau cover, Magnum badging and decals including a rear window graphic.
The Magnum also rides on 20-inch split forged alloy wheels with Bridgestone Potenza performance tyres and features the cross-drilled brake rotor package with charcoal finish Brembo callipers.
Holden says it’s not possible to install MRC on the ute so the Magnum gets a unique FE3 suspension tune which trades off some payload capacity for a lower rear ride height.
Revised springs with a 26 per cent reduction in rate, 10mm shorter rear dampers and a 15mm reduction in rear trim height plants the rear of the ute on the road but has seen payload rating reduced from 620kg to 540kg.
The new suspension tune achieves reduced rake, a lower centre of gravity and a lower rear roll centre.
Of the three limited edition models the Magnum is perhaps the car that offers the most different feel to the standard version it’s based on. The revised FE3 rear suspension settings put power to the ground and control rear weight transfer in a more progressive style than any Holden ute I’d driven previously.