Holden Redline a head-turner
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Commodore Sportwagon offers space, performance and value, writes Colin Smith
Redline is the calling card for a model that bridges the gap between Holden’s VF Commodore V8 variants and the Holden Special Vehicles brand.
It means the familiar level of 6-litre Gen IV small block V8 urgency — offering 260kW output — with a Redline-specific equipment pack comprising firmed-up FE3 sports suspension tune, high-performance Brembo front brakes and wider rear tyres, plus some other technology and cosmetic enhancements.
And it’s a flavour in the Commodore line I hadn’t sampled until driving this SS V Redline Sportwagon, in full extrovert mode thanks to the latest Holden hero colour called Jungle Green.
It’s a vehicle that attracts plenty of attention thanks to the vivid hue and muscular stance.
Pricing is $76,990, which is a $5500 premium over the list price of a Commodore SS V Sportwagon and $2500 more than the sedan variant of the SS V Redline. The current RRP for the HSV Clubsport R8 Tourer is $97,595.
From late-2014 production, the Redline additions include new steering wheel paddle shifters for the Active Select six-speed automatic transmission and new black-finished 19-inch alloy wheels.
The Redline rides on Bridgestone RE050A tyres which are 245/40 R19 dimension at the front with wider 275/35 R19 rubber at the rear, to complement the FE3 sports suspension and to boost the cornering grip and traction.
It’s a firm ride on the performance-focused FE3 suspension that delivers a sure-footed stance with precision steering feel on the open road but will always be reactive and a little unsettled over uneven surfaces at low speeds. The Brembo brake package enhances the hard-stopping performance and fade resistance.
The big V8 needs to work at just 1600rpm to cruise at 100km/h in top gear and shifts easily to pick up fifth gear at 2000rpm or into fourth at 2600rpm.
The introduction of paddle shift from late-2014 production brings one more element of performance focus to the Redline and some separation from the rest of the Commodore range.
Claimed combined cycle fuel consumption for the Redline Sportwagon is 11.8L/100km and like most big-engine, higher-consumption cars it seems easy to better that number in everyday driving. My road test averaged a respectable 10.9L/100km.
With its more focused suspension tune, wider tyres and fingertip gear shifting ability, the Redline builds further on the specification of the SS V grade.
Effectively it adopts most of the luxury Calais V Series technology suite with active driver assist features including Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning and the colour Head Up Display.
The nine-speaker Bose audio system from the Calais V Series specification is fitted to Redline sedans but isn’t part of the Sportwagon package.
That line-up of features joins the standard VF Commodore technology that, beginning from SV6 grade, delivers blind-spot alert and reversing camera with rear cross-traffic alert, as well as auto parking assist.
Redline features shared in common with the SS V model are passive entry and keyless start, front fog lights, leather seat trim, chrome exterior beltline and door handles, alloy pedals and full colour multi-function display.
There’s also an auto release electric park brake, dual zone air-conditioning, the 8-inch MyLink multi-media display with satellite navigation and an alarm and immobiliser security system.
The Redline has a smartly finished interior with red stitching highlights on the power-adjustable black leather and light titanium alcantara seats.
The front seats provide supportive side bolstering, while the flat-bottom steering wheel is tilt and reach adjustable.
The rear seat is a 60/40 split design to create generous flat floor load length with 895 litres of load space (measured to ceiling height) expanding to 2000 litres. There’s a rollaway luggage cover and four tie-down hooks while the tailgate has a soft close function.
Exterior highlights include front fog lamps, LED daytime running lights, quad outlet exhaust and projector beam auto headlights.
The Sportwagon configuration is my favourite in the Commodore line. Handsome design and load carrying flexibility add appeal to the practical benefits of a large car.
As a large, roomy and stylish wagon with strong V8 performance and crisply tuned chassis dynamics, the Redline fits neatly between Holden’s SS V model and more expensive HSV cars.
The Redline treatment is a very effective sharpening of the VF’s dynamic qualities while the transfer of Calais V Series technology also plays a part in making a moderate price premium seem like solid value.
PROS & CONS
HOLDEN COMMODORE SPORTWAGON SS V REDLINE
ENGINE:5967cc 16-valve V8 fuel-injected petrol
Pros:Enhances SS V line-up
Cons: Farewell to Aussie-built Commodore model