Holden SS Ute Road Test, Review
When you think about sports cars, you generally don’t think of the Holden SS Ute. However the SS Ute with its 6.2L LS3 V8 engine, Limited slip differential and six speed manual transmission surprises even the most ardent cynics.
Unfortunately this may be the last of the Mohicans as far as Holden Utes go. This and the SSV Redline and the Limited Edition Ute are in hot demand as they will be no longer when Australian manufacturing ceases.
RIP for the Australian Ute.
Externally I think the SS Ute looks cool. Especially in the deep red of the vehicle we tested.
The black bonnet scoops on the top of the fenders frame the bonnet with its central bulge and lend it a muscular appeal.
From the front the grill and spoiler also enhance the masculine appeal. It’s important to note that Utes like the SS are equally as popular with female buyers as male buyers.
The thick ‘B’ pillars look great but restrict visibility.
Inside it is the same as the sedans. That means well laid out, comfortable seats, clear dash and practical centre console stack etc. Interestingly the seat travel is more than I need, a rarity in any car let alone a 2 door vehicle. There is plenty of room inside and if you are clever enough room for all your small things inside.
The heart of the SS Ute lies in the 6.2L LS3 V8 that produces 304kW @ 6000rpm of power and 570Nm @ 4400rpm of torque. This drives through a six speed manual transmission, utlising a limited slip differential and will race from -0-100kmh in about 5 seconds. Around town it will drink premium fuel at a rate of 19L/100k but on the freeway we got that down to around 10L/100K.
It isn’t the most economical engine, but it is fun.
Power through the gears is exhilarating. I tend to hold onto first gear too much and the change from first to second is tight but from there it is smooth powerful sailing.
It will rumble along in 5th or 6th around town and blast on the freeway. The transmission is precise and firm but smooth. Holden has had a while to make the ride as good as it is. The heads up display is great.
The problem is that you tend to have a heavy right foot for two reasons. The first is simply to hear that beautiful bi modal exhaust and enhanced sound, and the second is that it is just too easy to power away.
It’s like holding a race horse by the bridle driving this around town. You feel the need to find somewhere to unleash the puppies and let rip. Just do it within the speed limit!
Having all that power, safety is an issue.
The Holden SS Ute has a 5 star ANCAP safety rating and the safety features include
- Electronic Stability Control (ESC) incorporating:
- Anti-lock Braking System (ABS),
- Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD),
- Electronic Brake Assist (EBA),
- Traction Control System (TCS)
- Electric Power Steering (EPS)
- Automatic Park Assist
- Front and Rear Ultrasonic Park Assist
- Blind Spot Alert
- Reverse Traffic Alert
- Colour Head-Up Display
- Automatic release electric park brake
- Hill hold control and Hill start assist
- Trailer Sway Control
- Sports suspension with Performance Brake Upgrade
- Driver and front passenger airbags
- Side impact airbags (thorax/pelvis) for driver and front passenger
- Driver and passenger audible and visual seatbelt warning
- Front seatbelts with load limiters and pyrotechnic pretensioners
There are a couple of things I don’t really like, the ‘A’ pillars for one. This has been a problem with commodores for a while. They can conceal a vehicle totally on the wrong angle and the thick ‘B’ pillars mean that external rear view mirror placement is critical.
The radio must be on for the sat-nav and Bluetooth to work which is a pain. If you have a couple of cups or bottles in the centre console then they can get in the way of gear changes.
But the good overwhelms the bad features of the vehicle.
So basically the Holden SS Ute 6.2L LS3 V8 is a 2 door 2WD sports car. The six speed manual transmission is fun to use, but I would still opt for the auto.
It does however have much more internal room than most sports cars and a load more practicality with the tray behind. Bottom line, the SS Ute is FUN!