Say goodbye Holden Commodore SS and Hello VXR with the team from Motoring Australia as a sophisticated Euro Sports Hatch replaces a V8 SS Muscle-Car in their Holden ZB Commodore VXR 2018 Review.
After four generations and 40 Years of rear-drive V8 Holden muscle cars…welcome to Holden’s brave new world of the All-Wheel Drive V6 Sport Sedan!
The fact is that after General Motors signed the death warrant for the Australian-Made Zeta Platform in 2011, the performance flagship of Holden’s first imported Commodore range was never going to be a rear drive V8.
Forget the fact it’s not built here and never mind the fact it’s called a Commodore because the new VXR has nothing in common with the old SS and it’s a miracle it exists at all.
That said, the V6 All-Wheel Drive Sports Lift Back has a lot to live up to! Just ask the 50% of VF2 Commodore buyers that opted for an SS and it draws inevitable comparisons with Kia’s V6 rear drive stinger 330 SI which wears the same $55,990 price tag.
The VXR’s 235 kilowatt, 381 Newton meter naturally aspirated 3.6 Litre V6 may be well down on the 6.2 Litre V8 of the SS which was actually a thousand dollars cheaper in top-shelf SSV Redline manual sedan form, but it’s not that much slower. With the 0 – 100 time of 6.2 seconds it’s only about a second off the pace in a straight line and although it doesn’t have a bellowing bent eight, it’s cracking V6 loves to rev, sounds better than any six-cylinder Commodore before it, feels quick and comes with a slick shifting Nine Speed Auto as standard.
At 1,737 kilos though, it’s no Bantam weight but it gets its power to the ground more efficiently thanks to a hyper strut front suspension system and an adaptive all-wheel drive system with torque vectoring and a twin clutch rear diff and with a chassis tune not by Holden in Australia but OPC at the Nurburgring, it delivers a good mix of ride comfort and playfulness via adaptive flex road suspension settings including tour, sport, performance and bespoke VXR modes.
It looks the business too – with 20-inch alloys, Brembo front brakes, a sports body kit, leather bucket seats and the XR branding and it comes with a host of new technologies like adaptive cruise control and LED matrix headlights plus ventilated seats and all the latest safety driver aids.
No, the new VXR isn’t a tire smoking V8 or muscle car but nobody could have expected it to be. Instead it’s a sophisticated European sports sedan that makes up for its lack of V8 and rear drive with high levels of technology, refinement and just enough performance.