New Car Test - Holden Ute SS

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Feb 6, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    New Car Test - Holden VY Ute SS

    Holden's best two-door V8...

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    By Julian Edgar
    Published: 22 October, 2002

    To suggest that the VY Commodore represents anything other than a sideways move over the previous VX would be to stretch the truth. The mid-model tweaks have been minor, and despite a whole new dash, the end result is no stunning breakthrough. But does the new model actually have to be a complete change to continue to achieve market success?

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    The V8 versions are already damn' good cars - although the awful V6 should've been pensioned off years ago. So despite rival manufacturer Ford having recently released a range of cars and engines that (should) up the local ante very considerably, Holden can probably be fairly confident that their styling tickle is sufficient to keep their Gen III models in the hunt.

    Of course those comments apply to all the new VY models, and even though the Ute gets only half the exterior makeover - the rear styling remains virtually unchanged - there's enough new about the car that most will readily recognise the model upgrade.

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    On test was the SS Ute, costing in base form $39,340. Our optioned car came with a hard tonneau cover and leather seats, but was otherwise SStandard - ABS, a body kit (complete with LED brakelight high rear spoiler), leather steering wheel, cruise, air, trip computer and in-dash 6-stacker CD radio.

    The driveline consists of the 235kW 5.7-litre LS1 V8 (up by 10kW courtesy of a new twin stainless steel exhaust), heavy 6-speed manual 'box and 3.46 ratio LSD. Noticeably lacking on the features list is traction control - all other V8 models have it as standard. Suspension is FE2 Sports, and the VY gets revised low-speed front damping. The wheels are also new 17x8 alloys wearing 235/45 Bridgestones - slightly higher in profile than those used on the SS sedan.

    And what a good car the Ute is! Surprised by that statement? We were very taken aback - compared with the other two-door Holden (the Monaro), this car drives far better. Rather than having the limited suspension travel, slow steering rack and lack of handling cohesion of the beautiful coupe, the VY Ute reminds us of nothing less than the HSV Clubsport. The on-road poise is exceptional, with in most conditions a really great ride (yes, even unladen), and grippy but forgiving handling. And that's despite the rear suspension lacking the extra toe-control links that were introduced on the VX sedans... More than anything else, it's the brilliant combination of damping and spring rates - the Ute is simply exceptional in this regard.

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    The lack of a traction control system is a large problem in wet conditions (and will only get worse as the rear tyres start getting down in tread depth), but the very progressive development of torque from the big engine (the peak of 465Nm is up at 4400 rpm) means that unexpected sideways excursions in dry conditions are a non-event. Turning onto a main highway, for example, you can trounce it in first gear and the back will go nowhere. (However, if you want to have some wheel-spinning fun, simply have three or four thousand rpm on board and then bang out the clutch!)

    And in real road handling - say a twisty secondary country road - the SS Ute is very, very good. It tracks superbly, even over broken and bumpy bitumen. In fact, if your idea of a SS Holden Ute is a tarted-up truck masquerading as a try-hard sports car, you're a helluva long way from the truth. The steering - revised for this model with different valving and a stiffer torsion bar - is perhaps one of the few weak links in the on-road armoury. It's not the dreadfully slow ratio of the Monaro, but it does appear to have lost some of its alacrity - the "sneeze factor" (how much lock you can apply without the car responding) has got bigger and bigger in locally-built Holdens over the last five years. In fact, it's fast heading in the direction of Magna steering, where you turn-in before actually reaching the corner... However, it's no disaster and is something you get used to.

    Handling is characterised by turn-in understeer followed by a progressive power oversteer on exit. Perhaps partly because of the long wheelbase (the Ute uses the same platform as the wagon), the change in attitude of the car is always gradual and very well telegraphed. However, with this much performance and handling prowess, the standard brakes can start looking a bit marginal. The HSV performance brakes as an option? Would be getting much too close to the Maloo then...

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    The engine feels far more free-breathing than the last 5.7 Holden we experienced - and in fact, more akin in performance of the original VT model SS Gen III. Over the various model iterations - and in between as well - the engine management programs have varied quite a lot, with hot weather ignition timing retard and over-eager knock sensors being part of the reason that the engines' actual on-road sharpness has undulated so much. This V8 felt f-a-r stronger, and gave 0-100 performances - with a gentle police-friendly launch - of around 6.3 seconds. That's absolutely honking - and quicker than we measured with an HSV 255kW Clubsport driven in the same gentle-launch way. At 1560kg the SS Ute is only 30kg lighter than the SS sedan, so the extra urge doesn't come from a hugely lower mass.

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    On the ChipTorque dyno the engine showed its strength, with a peak power at the wheels of 172kW, and a very 'full' power curve (as in, much more area under the curve than we've seen in some other recent Holden V8s). However, the temp sensitivity of the engine still showed through clearly, with a hot run (the second power line on the graph) showing a major drop.

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    But if there's one major downfall of the engine it's in its fuel consumption. Despite people telling us how - for a big V8 - the fuel economy of the Gen III LS1 is good, we just don't see it that way. On test the Ute achieved an average of 18 litres/100 km - which can only be described as dismal. Unlike many high performance cars, where you can get reasonable fuel economy if you give it an occasional squirt and then drive gently the rest of the time, the 5.7-litre requires incredibly gentle and consistent driving all of the time if it is to get acceptable fuel economy. As in, pull out of the petrol station, get on to the highway, select sixth gear, then not move the throttle more than a few millimetres. That way, yes the economy can be around 10 litres/100 km. But in normal performance car driving, it's simply atrocious. But unlike the Monaro we drove - which had a similar thirst - at least the Ute had excellent performance.

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    The new-for-VY dash and controls are a mixed bag - simply, from the exterior paint colour matched instruments (yes, green on this car!) through to the new ventilation controls, it looks more like the stylists wanted something different, rather than something better. Certainly, any typical Japanese car has a dashboard at least as good. However, the new trip computer really is a surprisingly good performer. In the SS incarnation it provides odometer, trip meter, speed warnings, distance to empty, trip distance to go, time to go, average speed, average consumption and stopwatch functions. (Incidentally, the display indicated a range remaining of 50 km, even when the engine was spluttering and coming to a halt, completely dry of petrol!)

    But the real benefit of the new display is that it allows user-programming of body computer preferences. So it's easy to change all of these little things which drive you mad - whether both doors or just the driver's door open with the first push of the remote button, how long the interior light stays on when the door is shut, whether the horn beeps when arming or disarming the car, and so on. All of these personal preferences can be set just as you want - there are even 'help' menus built into the digital display! Given that in all other cars that we know of this sort of thing requires the use of the dealer tool to re-program the module, Holden should be congratulated on making this accessible to all. It's a relatively small thing in the overall make-up of the car - but one that will result in many more happy consumers.

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    Also new for the VY is a Blaupunkt in-dash 6-disc radio CD. The steering wheel has remote controls for the sound system and data is displayed in the central LCD screen (ie the trip computer/odometer display). Unfortunately we couldn't play any CDs as the unit was faulty, while on radio the sound was adequate, being limited by the speaker quality. The system features speed-dependent volume - another user-programmable feature.

    Of course, a ute is more than just a cabin - there's also that tray out the back, plastic coated and lidded, in this car's case. But as everyone knows, if you want a serious ute for major load carrying, the Falcon's the machine - for this reason it way outsells the Holden. So the Ute's dimensions (2193mm length and 1477mm width) and payload (655kg including occupants) are much less important that the fact that it's versatile enough to carry a trail bike in the tray - or tow a boat and fit lots of fishing gear out back.

    No, the killer app for this car is that it looks good (in profile, still amongst the best looking utilitarian cars ever built), goes bloody hard, and has the handling prowess to match. It's one very strong package.

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    Why you would:

    Mighty performance
    Excellent handling
    Comfortable and well-equipped
    Practical

    Why you wouldn't:

    High fuel consumption
    No traction control fitted or available

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    Ute Beaut - Not all workshop utes put out 285kW, stop hard using Brembos and go 'round corners with aplomb...

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    Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar
    Published: 2 July, 2002

    When you hear mention of the workshop ute in most places, it's invariably in reference to 'ol trusty' parked out the back - a Holden HQ one-tonner with its door mirrors sagging and faded paint creatively characterised by areas of rust.

    In Nizpro's Melbourne workshop, however, mention of the work ute brings a whole new mental picture. How 'bout a 2001 Holden SS ute packing Brembos, sports suspension and a kickin' 285kW at the flywheel? There's nothing that sags on this 'shop ute!

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    Having recently decided to embark on some serious LS1 V8 development, Nizpro's Simon recognised the perfect opportunity to mix a good tax deduction with pleasure. His LS1-powered SS ute is perfect for day-to-day pick-ups and drop-offs, project development and - lastly - it's something to get Simon's pulse racing on the drive home every night!

    Initially, Simon was pretty keen on buying one of Holden's gorgeous new Monaros. As you might imagine, though, trying to squeeze an engine in the boot and an exhaust system down the side would've been a tad awkward...

    Fast-forwarding to the present, Simon's ute has real improvements in the areas of engine, suspension and brakes. It's a very well balanced package - nothing too over the top (yet)...

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    Powered by exactly the same Stage 1 285kW mechanical package you can buy 'over the counter' from Nizpro, the 6-speed manual ute feels wonderfully alive and kicking. When we took it for a drive, we were mightily impressed by its throttle response (much sharper than a standard Holden or HSV) and smooth torque delivery throughout the rev range. It went reasonably hard too but, then, all these LS1-powered vehicles are deceptively quick. As you'd expect from a package that's had such extensive testing, there's no stutters or flat-stops hiding anywhere in the load or rev range...
     
  2. TQ

    TQ OT Supporter

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    two words:

    El Camino :o
     
  3. NeonWally

    NeonWally Guest

    So ugly
     
  4. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    ute > monaro? :confused:
     
  5. kioria

    kioria Guest

    NO
     
  6. kioria

    kioria Guest

    HRT 427 is the one you want. a TANK.
     
  7. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    From everything I've read, yes.
     
  8. kioria

    kioria Guest

    like you want a UTE for your family. chicks dont dig utes. guys do.
     
  9. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    No kidding.

    If they decide to sell it here, I'd think about taking it over a GTO.
     
  10. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    I'm torn. I WANT to like the ute, because it looks so practical and useful. It's all the truck i would ever really need.

    But it is just ugly as sin :o
     
  11. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I think the Ford and Holden Utes look awesome. :cool:
     
  12. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    I think the 2 door versions are all ugly. One of the 4 door ones you posted wasn't so bad though.
     
  13. 330R

    330R New Member

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  14. I think it looks fuckign awesome.
     
  15. Dr.Smasher

    Dr.Smasher .

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    I want that.
     
  16. yer mom

    yer mom Pelvic THRUST

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    god i want one :wackit:
     
  17. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    :wackit: :wackit: :wackit:
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2004
  18. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Featured Vehicles - Holden’s Ute SS
    Rear-Drive, 300hp, Six-Speed For Under $20,000!

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    By Jeff Koch
    Photography: David Freiburger, Jeff Koch

    This is the Holden Utility SS, built by GM’s Australia division for its home market. We had one for a day in LA before it was sent back to Oz; GM reps, considering giving the Chevy Bow Tie a performance luster with this vehicle, gave us a laundry list of unofficial reasons this car will probably never come to this country. We’ve got our own list of why it should.

    1. Chevy Would Sell the Hell Out of It: We drove one around Southern California for a day right after Power Tour ended, and if we had a dollar for every Power Tourer who told us they’d buy one, we could buy one ourselves. If they felt the need, Chevy could limit U.S. production—say, 25,000 a year—and send demand skyrocketing. It’d be an instant legend.

    2. Body Style Choice: Holden of Australia builds and sells two-door Monaro coupes, four-door Commodore sedans and wagons, and the snazzy Utility hybrid seen here in two and four doors. Substitute Camaro for Monaro, Chevelle for Commodore, and El Camino for Utility, maybe Nomad for Commodore wagon, and you’d have a marketing coup that would have the 800,000-odd readers of this magazine screaming for the nearest Chevy dealer, cash in hand.

    3. Rear-Wheel Drive: This could be the car that HOT ROD readers have been clamoring for since the Impala SS went away. Corvettes are beyond the affordability of most people reading this; like the girls in Playboy, Vettes are made of plastic and are nice to look at, but not many readers get to take one home. And Camaros, for all their good points, have about a year left to live, partly because not every kid with a speed jones can afford an insurance payment that tops their monthly car payment. What else does Chevy offer? The SSR? If you’re one of the 10,000 people who can get one in their first year of production and feel like waiting until 2003, sure. The rest of us want something now.

    4. V-8 Power: In fact, it’s the same 5.7L LS1 V-8 under the hood of your Camaro and Corvette, but detuned to about 300 hp. In our test, it delivered 260-odd horsepower at the rear wheels thanks in part to restrictive inlet and exhaust systems. A quick spin around the block taught us that, seat of the pants, our 4L60E-backed Phantom (black metallic) Utility SS wasn’t as outright quick as a comparable F-body, but then between the restrictive plumbing and the extra weight, we didn’t expect it would be. And it’s nothing that can’t be changed. Which leads us to….

    5. There’s Already a Speed-Parts Aftermarket: The car will respond to any LS1 bolt-on, from pulleys to, say, just dropping a 385-horse LS6 in and being done with it. The trannies are the same, too: The T56 six-speed is available, as is the 4L60E four-speed auto with overdrive. Exhaust companies would spit out less restrictive bolt-on systems faster than you can say “see you at SEMA.”

    6. Chevy Likes to Sell Trucks. Buyers Dig Trucks. Here’s a Truck: Singling out the Utility SS in particular, it hauls about 1,500 pounds worth of stuff in its 7-foot bed. (More utilitarian models will haul 1,800 pounds.) In a recent lunch meeting we had with some Chevy marketing guys in Detroit, they were disappointed to note that HOT ROD doesn’t do much with trucks. Guys, here’s a truck that we’ll gladly be all over—the new Avalanche, 8100 engine or not, ain’t our bag.

    7. It Rides and Handles Good, Like a Car Should: Again singling out the Utility, since it’s the one we got to drive, having a B-body-like 115.7-inch wheelbase helps smooth out the bumps. Nothing with a wheelbase that long, especially a two-seater, should be included in a recipe for hot cornering, but it’s far firmer in the twisties than a comparable-length ’90s Impala SS. Again, no one’s going to pretend it corners like an F-body, but for something with a ¾-ton payload, the Utility is an eye-opener. The control and confidence you feel on any surface other than fresh tarmac is thanks largely to the fully independent rear suspension. There’s no protest, as there might be with a solid axle with lateral and gravitational forces pulling in different directions simultaneously; each wheel simply does its own thing, gets the power down, and you’re gone. Though a solid axle will always be top choice on the strip, for everyday driving, an independent setup is so much more comfortable to deal with. It’s got a tad of wheelhop, but we’re sure the aftermarket could solve that, too.

    8. It’s Got Comfort and Quality: There’s plenty of room for all shapes and sizes of drivers and passengers in what looks, from the outside, to be a diminutive cabin. Head, leg, and elbow room are all fine, even with a couple of widebody staffers in the comfy red leather SS seats. Simple, modern design encourages the faultless ergonomics (even driving on the wrong side of the cabin). No new design ground is being broken, and as a result there’s nothing that looks freaky; the photo just looks like we’ve flipped it the wrong way ’round.

    9. It Looks Bloody Fantastic: No, it doesn’t have the chiseled edges of (insert your favorite ’60s car here that this will never be as good as, no matter what). Yes, it’s modern. We’re in the 21st century. Most of us are OK with that.

    10. It’s Affordable: You know, $36,490 sounds like a lot of money until you realize it’s in Australian dollars. A V-8 SS Utility (with stick or automatic, your choice) clocks in at less than $19,000 U.S. That’s cheaper than a Camaro, plus you can chuck more stuff in the back, whether it’s cargo, as with the Utility, or people, as with the Commodore and Monaro. A stick V-6 Ute (the tried-and-true Buick 3.8L) is about $12,000 U.S.—or the same money as a Focus… or a Cavalier. Ahem.

    11. Minimal Engineering Dollars Are Needed for Federalization: It’s complete and on sale now. The engines are built in America and shipped to Australia, so clearly the powertrains can be tweaked to our own particular emissions specifications. Plus, did you know that Holden builds lefthand-drive versions of the Commodore and its variants? Saudi Arabia buys Holdens by the shipload: They’re badged as Chevys there, and are sold with Bow Ties on the hood. The only catch could conceivably be crash-testing, but Commodore is on a global GM platform (shared with the current Cadillac Catera), so the basics are already in place. (Or just equip ’em with ’roo bars.) Compare the cost of getting Holdens to pass U.S. crash regs to the cost of the emergency last-minute facelift on the ’02 Aztek.

    12. Enthusiast Buzz Would Be Everywhere: The Chevrolet name would be on everyone’s lips as America’s bargain performance division, and it would set the market on its ear. This thing would drive traffic to the showroom, thereby (in theory) selling Cavaliers to every kid who aspires to own a Ute in a few years. It’s a smaller step from Cavalier to Commodore than it is to Corvette. Plus, thanks to Internet chat rooms, they would practically sell themselves via the hype machine. GM might look to one of its satellites, Subaru, for a parallel. After years of hype, the turbocharged, all-wheel-drive WRX has been unleashed in this country (see Roddin’ at Random, Aug. ’01). Dealers are charging thousands over sticker for the few they get, and the little bug-eyed beasts are turning up in enthusiasts’ hands nationwide. Why? Right car, right price, right time, right hype—hype that the car more than lives up to. Think it couldn’t happen with the Ute?

    13. It Rocks: But then, you already knew that.

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    :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown:
     
  19. Supreme Allah

    Supreme Allah The terrorists won.

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    why would those NOT come over here. they would have a huge following :hs:
     
  20. Mr.Fusion

    Mr.Fusion feast upon my magnificence

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  21. jinushaun

    jinushaun New Member

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    I think they look pimp.
     
  22. ///TRASH

    ///TRASH Hideously Erect

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    "7. It Rides and Handles Good, Like a Car Should:"

    :ugh: What kind of hick is writing that shit?
     
  23. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I like those as well. :yum:
     
  24. Demon Of Dreams

    Demon Of Dreams Feed me with lies and hate, and from that, I will

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    all el camino's > *


    however, I'd love me one of them electric eggplant purple VY Ute SS's ...

    :hs:
     
  25. CarlsV6

    CarlsV6 Guest

    I definately like the Falcon UTE better. Just something about the holden don't look right to me.
     

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