Holden SSV VF Track Tested

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Updated: July 18, 2013

Words & Images | Tom Haynes

“It’s not very good driving if you get it sideways or lose the back end,” said Hayley.

Nah, get it sideways Hayley, it’ll look better for the video and photos,” I replied, remembering Top Gear front-man Jeremy Clarkson saying the faster you go the slower it looks.

Hayley shrugged. “OK let’s drift this baby!” she grinned.

Many of you will know Hayley from WTW Site Visits. She hits up work sites, often with the Red Bull or Monster crew and gives out free mags, tools and hugs for the charming. Well this gorgeous girl also races V8 Utes.

She was behind the wheel of Holden’s brand spanking new VF SSV V8 Commodore Ute, which is selling at around $5000 less than the VE model. Yet offers plenty more car.

Hayley driving badly. Very well.

Hayley driving badly. Very well.

We had the 6-speed manual, powered by the same 6.0L V8 found in the VE model but with some aesthetic differences. The stonking output of 270kW and 530nM of torque remains the same, yet Holden says the car is lighter, most notably because of a new alloy bonnet.

Hayley SwansonWhat’s more, the gearbox is tighter and the car is whisper quiet, which may or may not be a selling point.

From the back, the VF looks unchanged from the VE. However the front end has received a makeover, including a new black grill and
projector headlights. The wheels are also an inch bigger than the VE, with sexy 19-inch alloys as standard.

Inside, suede trims and updated leather seats hold you snugly – which is just as well, we were at a racetrack. The dash mounted touchscreen display has been bumped up to 8 inches and is linked to a reversing camera and front and rear sensors with Park Assist as well as Sat Nav and music streaming service, Pandora. Other digital features include a blind spot alert which is a great addition for a ute – it flashes a light on the side mirrors when an object appears in the blind spot.

The SSV has push-start ignition, while the automatic has remote start for when you need to get away even more quickly.

Should you go a little too quickly, the VF has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating and six airbags along with Electronic Stability Control (ESC),which incorporates Traction Control, ABS and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. With ESC turned on Hayley said “the VF was virtually impossible to lose”.

“It won’t let me hammer into corners, I’m trying to wrestle it through,” she said.

Corner

However, when Hayley turned off the ESC she had a ute very similar to the VE she races in the V8 Ute Series.

She threw it into turns, the screech of tyres clinging to the road as she took textbook lines around Marulan Driver Training Centre.

The V8 roared as Hayley hurtled up the straight heading towards corners at impossible speeds, before she brought the SSV back
through the gears and hit the brakes hard for a text book turn.

As she came rolling in with a big grin the brakes were smoking. “You have to brake hard in the utes if you want to hammer through turns. It transfers the weight forward and keeps you stuck to the road,” she grinned.

Which brings us to where we started. Hayley and her V8 were sticking to the road a little too well and it was time to lose the back end. With no weight in the back and 270kW pumping into rear wheel drive, getting the car sideways is not an achievement in itself.

However, making it look pretty and coming out of the corner at speed, is. Hayley went on to “drift this baby” around the track, making it look like a walk in the park. The howling tyres saw the owner and designer of the track, Garry Willmington – who has
21 Bathurst starts under his belt – come and take a look.

VF SSVGarry’s eyes sparkled as he watched Hayley taking the track to pieces, mixing it up between flawless racing technique and long
gentle drifts.

Before long, we left the track and were back on the road where the SSV is equally at home. Without the pure racing setup seen
in the top-spec SSV Redline, the SSV sports suspension soaks up potholes and takes on the open road in style, but is still more than capable on a track. And let’s face it, unless you’re like Hayley, the open road is where you’ll be doing most of your driving.

For $42,490 + on roads it offers incredible value.

 

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Hayley with 21x Bathurst 1000 starter, Garry Willmington

Marulan Driver Training Facility
Designer of MDTC, Garry Willmington
has 40 years of racing experience and
21 Bathurst starts under his belt, so
when he tells you how to drive… listen.
He offers training to all levels, from
school kids to aspiring racers. You can
bring your car out to his track or be a
passenger is one of the supercars on
site – whether V8 or Lamborghini. MDTC
also has club days and other events.
www.mdtc.com.au

 

 

 

Warning!
This car was driven by a trained professional
on a private track. If you want to drive your
car fast, don’t be an idiot, do it on a track and
learn from a professional like Garry