Now, with the Commodore SV6 SIDI, Holden is showing its responsible side and the terms ‘muscle car’ and ‘enhanced fuel economy’ are no longer mutually incompatible.
A beefed-up Commodore that can drive almost from Sydney to Melbourne on one tank of fuel? You bet!
What You Get
Holden handed Car Showroom the keys to a mean-looking green SV6 (‘Poison Ivy Metallic’ is the actual name of the colour!) with a six-speed manual transmission.
SV6 Commodores get extra grunt in the form of the 3.5-litre SIDI LLT V6 engine while Omega, Berlina and Sportwagon are powered by the less potent but more fuel efficient 3.0-litre LF1 SIDI V6.
SIDI stands for Spark Ignition Direct Injection technology. Launched with the 2010 model year Commodore range, SIDI makes the Commodore Omega the most fuel-efficient Australian-built six-cylinder vehicle, capable of covering the Sydney-Melbourne trip with less than one tank of petrol.
The SV6 is the performance model with lots of extra kit inside and out plus spots suspension - it adds up to one of the world’s best high performance full-size sedans.
Under The Hood
Holden’s Port Melbourne Global V6 engine plant is one of the jewels in the worldwide General Motors crown and the 3.5-litre SIDI LLT V6 is a gem.
An all-alloy V6 with DOHC/24-valves and direct fuel injection, this fuel-sipping V6 delivers 210kW of power at 6400 rpm and peak torque of 350Nm at 2900 rpm.
SIDI – Spark Injection Direct Technology – directs the fuel directly into the combustion chamber and this allows a higher (11.3:1) compression ratio. That in turn delivers more performance and efficiency using less fuel to produce the equivalent power.
Another benefit is a cleaner exhaust with cold-start emissions down by an impressive 25 per cent compared to Holden’s previous V6.
The manual SV6 we tested is rated at 10.2 l/100kms for fuel consumption – down 7 per cent on its predecessor. Holden says C02 emissions are also down by seven per cent to 242 g/km.
Combine that fuel economy with Commodore’s 73 litre tank and the range between refills is, well, almost Sydney to Melbourne.
Drive is to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission (as tested). The optional automatic is also a six-speed – Holden’s new 6L50 which is lighter, more compact and designed for refinement, performance and reduced engine load at cruising speeds for enhanced fuel consumption.
Numerous mid-size passenger cars and SUVs have most recently populated the Car Showroom garage, so it was a delight to enjoy the abundant space provided by a full-size Australian sedan.
Our SV6 test vehicle was fitted with the optional leather interior, which enhance an impressive passenger compartment. SV6 models gain four-way electric adjustment for the drivers’ seat as well as adjustable lumbar support; when you throw in rake and reach adjustment for the steering wheel (leather-wrapped in the SV6) the driving position is excellent.
The steering wheel has scroll wheels and buttons to adjust the audio and trip computer as well as the integrated Bluetooth mobile phone operations. We would have preferred buttons to manage the cruise control (as Ford offers) but Holden still uses a stalk for that function. At least it is simpler to use than some other cruise control stalks.
Instrumentation consists of conventional twin gauges with trip computer information displayed digitally in a panel between the speedometer and tachometer. The Blaupunkt single-disc CD audio system (with auxiliary input jack) is in the center with settings displayed on a good-sized digital screen.
Rear seat space is typical Commodore – massive – and there is a center through-cut with a handy remote boot opening lever to store long items like snow skis. Booster and child seats for the Car Showroom juniors were easily fitted and the large space meant securing their seat belts did not require a contortionist maneuver.
Exterior & Styling
Although not the freshest design on the block, the VE series is easily the neatest Commodore yet and still looks great. Styling enhancements included in the SV6 upgrade provide an imposing and muscular appearance.
At the front there is a low spoiler and fog lights in nicely styled black housings, while the rear gains a massive boot-mounted wing, dual chrome-tip exhausts and black-finished diffuser. SV6 also gains large 18-inch alloy wheels with high performance Yokohama tyres.
No, it’s not an HSV, but the SV6 delivers an all-round muscle car look that is very well done and is a credit to the Holden stylists.
On The Road
The SV6 has a lower ride height than other Commodores and stiffer rate springs are fitted to the independent front/multi-link rear suspension. Electronic Stability Control incorporating ABS anti-lock brakes with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), EBA (Electronic Brake Assist) and TCS (Traction Control) is also included.
This is a performance sedan with lots of power and torque on tap, so some of our female drivers commented that the clutch pedal and transmission were noticeably heavier than, say, a Holden Cruze. No big deal and the six-speed automatic SV6 would be a handy alternative.
Over our mountain roads test route the SV6 came into its own with the poise, balance and superb feedback we’ve come to expect from Holden’s performance cars. Braking for hairpin corners, the SIDI V6 growled down through the gears and we were pleasantly surprised by its massive torque at low engine speeds as we accelerated away and up through the gears.
Around town that low-speed torque was also handy to negotiate the working week freeway crawl.
With its 11.4-metre turning circle, large rear spoiler and low front air-dam, the SV6 – like all full-size performance sedans – isn’t easiest car to park in tight city carparks.
Inside, we reckon it’s time Holden upgraded some of the Commodore’s plastic trim – the look and feel of items like the center console, glovebox lid and switch gear are a little tired and cheap.
The SV6 is a credit to Holden – the combination of ‘muscle car’ and SIDI engine fuel efficiency is just right for the Australian market. You get a lot of car for the dollars, too.
The Ford G6 Falcon also delivers some extra muscle at a value-for-money price but doesn’t quite match the SV6 for fuel economy. For ride and handling over the mountains it would be a tough call as both are extremely competent.
The Toyota Camry Sportivo ZR6 doesn’t have a manual transmission option and doesn’t race at Bathurst, but it is handily priced, and for a front-driver the chassis is very well developed for performance driving.