Holden VE Commodore SS ute review

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Holden VE Commodore SS ute Holden VE Commodore SS ute Holden VE Commodore SS ute
Holden VE Commodore SS ute Holden VE Commodore SS ute Holden VE Commodore SS ute
Holden VE Commodore SS ute Holden VE Commodore SS ute Holden VE Commodore SS ute
Holden VE Commodore SS ute Holden VE Commodore SS ute Holden VE Commodore SS ute
Holden VE Commodore SS ute Holden VE Commodore SS ute Holden VE Commodore SS ute
Holden VE Commodore SS ute Holden VE Commodore SS ute Holden VE Commodore SS ute
Holden VE Commodore SS ute Holden VE Commodore SS ute Holden VE Commodore SS ute

Road test: Join us for a quick fang in the VE SS ute.

Holden VE Commodore SS ute review
Road test: Holden VE Commodore SS ute

 

HOLDEN COMMODORE SS UTE

If you like driving a talking point and turning heads in the Dan Murphys carpark, then you need either an HDT bonnet scoop or the 19-inch Aero wheels worn by this blue Ute for your VE or WM.

Not since the Mercedes-Benz SLS ‘Gullwing’ featured in Issue 318 have we had so many punters want to take a photo of a car in our possession, both in the street out the front of work and stopped at traffic lights. But there’s always camera-phone video and, believe me, it’s been employed on many an occasion too – usually while the cameraman is driving.

What you see here is a six-speed manual MY10 VE Commodore SS Ute that has been enhanced (or in long-time HDT parlance, ‘improved’) to make it a bit louder, a bit lower and a quite a bit tougher than Holden’s showroom fresh $42,490 example. While this one misses out on the Series II VE’s touch-screen dash and wider front air intakes, what has changed hasn’t been altered in the model changeover.

First, the look. Now, the VE Ute is one pretty stylish two-door that’s hard to criticise from a visual standpoint, but it’s also a great blank canvas for a couple of sensible visual ‘improvements’. As such, this HDT version plays up Holden’s punchy Voodoo blue metallic and chiselled VE styling with a dominating HDT bonnet scoop and a very cool HDT letterbox grille – both clearly inspired by hot Holdens of days gone by. But the icing on the cake is the gorgeous wheels – polished HDT Aero 19x8s, just like Brocky’s 1985 VK Group A
rims only much bigger to satisfy the size-obsessed world of 2011.

The wheels themselves wear Goodyear RS-A 245/40R19s and while this mightn’t seem like a whole lot of width for a 6.0-litre rear-drive V8, the combination of rolling stock and suspension upgrades mean this tough Ute has no trouble putting power to the ground (unless instructed to break traction, of course!). The chassis changes consist of new shocks and lowered springs, but the effect is two-fold – a much better stance on the road without the Ute’s too-high bum and a more tied-down feel when putting power to the ground.

The suspension mods definitely favour looks and firmness over comfort. While the HDT Ute feels less springy in the way it rides compared to an unladen standard SS, it’s pretty firm. Not to the point where the suspension starts to feel and sound crashy, but enough to know your Ute has a fairly intimate connection with the road surface. And many blokes like it that way.

Push the HDT Ute hard through a corner and its balance is different to the standard car’s. It requires more provocation to get the tail to step out and as corner speeds rise, it tends to go from neutrality to understeer rather than the mild throttle- and roll-oversteer generated by the stock Ute’s tippy-toe rear. The upside is that the HDT feels more planted, despite being quicker.

Engine mods (HDT cold-air intake, Pacemaker headers and a full stainless-steel twin exhaust system) have given this Ute a richer induction burble and a subtle exhaust growl but also 320hp at the wheels, which is nice. Add tasteful carbonfibre cabin inserts and classy perforated-leather trim (with cool HDT embroided logos) and this Ute clearly feels a step up from stock, inside and out.

Is the HDT-improved Ute worth almost HSV Maloo money? Depends on your priorities but if they include traffic-stopping style and exclusivity, then absolutely.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

HDT VE Commodore SS ute

 

Engine: 5967cc V8, OHV, 16v

Power: 290kW @ 5700rpm*

Torque: 535Nm @ 4400rpm*

Weight: 1754kg

Transmission: 6-speed manual

0-100km/h: 5.3sec (estimated)

Top speed: 250km/h (limited)

Price: $65,000 (approx)

 

 

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