I want to start this review by saying I am glad I got to review this car but on the other hand I am not glad I reviewed because of one thing it made me miss my old VY SS Commodore a lot.
Walking up to the Ute I was damn excited not only was this going to be the first V8 I’d driven since we sold our VY SS but because it was painted in the deep purple hue Alchemy, those of you who have read my SV6 Z Series review will how much I really like this colour.
I take a walk around it savouring in the aggressive stance, the charcoal 19inch alloys that awesome Alchemy paint, step inside I take a few minutes to find my correct sitting position push the clutch in, turning the key I am greeted with the awesome symphony of a 6.0L V8 trundling out onto the road I feel the excitement rise as I press the loud pedal and my sensors are assaulted by the roar my body is pushed back in the seat changing into 2nd and I am in heaven and the best thing was i still had 7 days to spend with it.
When the Ute’s was first invented in Australia it was so they drive to church on Sundays and put the pigs in the back for the markets on Monday they were made to used for work.
First forward many decades and the Ute has morphed from a work vehicle to what can best be described now as a 2 seater sports car with a big boot.
I drove the whole way home without the radio on just listening to that V8 rumble who needs a radio with a soundtrack like that.
I spent the next few days running around any chance I could get in the Ute becoming one with it, I really did like it a lot but after day 2 my love affair started to wane a little bit when I realised the Ute was becoming a little tedious to drive.
You see where I live you spend a lot of your time in bumper to bumper traffic so it’s non stop, stopping and starting and being this was a manual it was frustrating changing gears constantly the highest gear I got up to in the first 3 days of driving it was 4th and that was briefly.
The clutch is not extremely heavy but is heavier then the last couple of manuals I’d driven, I was glad though it was a little heavy as it made it so much easier to drive as I could feel the take up point on the clutch so easy.
On the outside the SS Ute in my opinion looks great the aggressive body kit, the 19inch alloys all add up to give you a package that says to me I mean business.
On the inside it’s standard VE fair, while other people have been critical of the VE interior I don’t mind it at all it is starting to date a little but you have to remember the VE was released in 2006 and it’s now 2013 but to me rather growing old and tired the VE interior to me is aging gracefully, being a Series 2 VE it has the awesome Holden IQ system which I have become a fan of.
The seats are leather bolstered cloth seats which I like a lot very comfortable and very supportive specially when cornering every time I drove it I so much wished I could put these seats in my Captiva.
Being a Ute there isn’t a lot of storage space on the inside but the VE SS seats do fold forward to reveal a little bit of storage space which was enough to hold a few shopping bags when I went to the shops so it came it handy.
Under the bonnet the SS Ute is packing 6.0L’s of V8 muscle, with 270kw of power and 530nm of torque the SS has plenty of power for anything, yet the engine is tractable enough to tool around the city during the week and come out and play on the weekend. SS puts it’s power to the down quite well indeed so it’s possible to break the rear away when you use too much right foot but it’s also very easy to live with as well if you can keep your right foot under control. I did find out that inducing any form of wheel spin during a take off the back ned did jump around a bit due to what seemed like axle tramp.
Fuel economy is not really it’s strong suit as you would expect, now my regular situation is very bad for fuel economy in any car but the SS does like to drink a little bit if your stuck in bumper to bumper traffic everyday. Best i saw driving around my area was 20L/100 km not the great . Put that into context my old VY SS Commodore use to get between 20 & 22L/100 km doing the same trips so the VE is averaging the same as my old 5.7L V8 while packing a bigger engine and a whole shed load more power and torque so then it doesn’t look as bad.
The free way like all V8’s is it’s strong point the tall 6th gear creates a very effortless and relaxing drive all while returning less then 9L/100 km best I saw on the free way was 8.6L/100 km. So it can return very decent fuel economy on long trips so it would make the perfect weekend away vehicle for 2 people.
On the plus though Holden add E85 flex capability to their V8 when the VE Series 2 was released I used E85 in the Ute during the week I had it and while fuel economy was slightly worse I didn’t notice any difference when running it and the big plus was it was 20 cents per litre less then regular unleaded on the day I put some in.
The gear worked well but i did find a little knotchy and the throw a little long i can now see why one of the first mods people do to these cars is install a short throw shifter it would definitely be the first thing I would do if I owned one.
Holden need to be given big pats on the back for the exhaust system they use on the ute while we all know you can get better sound from an after market system the stock Holden one is fantastic I don’t know what it sounded like on the outside but on the inside it’s best described as heaven to me.
On the road the Ute handles just like it’s sedan siblings, featuring Holden’s FE2 sports suspension it really does handle well, traditionally Ute’s were a bit light in the back end, but the Ute just feels like the sedans I’d driven before it was a dream to drive and really reinforces why the 2 door sports car handle has been used when describing these cars.
As with the SV6 Z series I drove the SS Z series Ute features the 19 inch charcoal rims wrapped in sticky bridgestone tyres did help to keep the Ute stuck to the road and they are the perfect accompaniment to the beautiful Alchemy paint.
The strong point with the Ute is the amount of stuff you can fit in the tray but there is enough room to pack on the gear for a weekend away or evening fit your trail bike in.
Being a Holden you know it’s going to safe and the VE SS Z Series Ute has the same ANCAP 5 star safety rating all Commodores receive I did however take points off because it did not have any rear parking sensors or a rear view camera, the rear vision is not the worlds greatest so the lack of sensors or a camera makes reverse parking a pain in the butt.
So after a week in the VE SS Z Series Ute I came away with mixed feelings don’t get me wrong it’s a damn fine car that I would recommend to anybody the sound is unbelievable the power is awesome , it handles great, can hold a decent size load in the tray, oh did I mention the power and the sound. But it was let down by the lack of rear parking sensors and no rear view camera, while the manual gearbox would be perfect to anybody living in the country or outer suburbs that don’t get the bumper to bumper traffic every day I get it can can get very tiresome in traffic definitely in my situation the auto would definitely be a better choice.