Holden's wild wagon breaks cover
VY Holden Commodore SS wagon
465Nm of torque from 5.7-litre V8
17-inch alloy wheels, bodykit, trick interior
The humble wagon class of car has been a long-time favourite
in Australia, though the times they are a changin'...
Ford has indicated that it will be winding down production
of its Falcon wagons in the near future to smaller numbers,
though it's new AWD Territory
crossover vehicle is aimed at filling this gap when it arrives
Toyota doesn't offer a wagon in any shape or form in its
'03 Camry line-up, though Mitsubishi will still offer wagons
when its new face-lefted TL Magna arrives in July 2003. There
are, however, a few dark clouds hanging over a wagon option
for the all-new 2005-model Magna...
Holden, on the other hand, has stated that its Commodore
wagon isn't going anywhere, and for the first time in the
marque's history it has unveiled an SS wagon.
The flagship SS Commodore sedan that helps sell oodles of
lesser units on its street cred and sharp looks alone, will
soon be available in a limited edition run of wagons.
Simon Carr, Holden's large car big-chief, says the debut
release of the SS Commodore wagon was consistent with the
company's commitment to providing its customers with a wider
choice of specialised vehicles.
"There's been strong buyer demand for a sports-oriented
Commodore wagon for some time and we decided that nothing
less than the full SS treatment would satisfy their expectations,"
"Our wagon also has the advantage of independent rear
suspension, which means it can deliver exciting driving dynamics
in addition to great style, safety technology and high equipment
levels at a very competitive price," Mr Carr concluded.
The only other Aussie-built sports option currently available
to wagon lovers is the Magna Sports V6, with Mitsubishi's
mildly tuned 3.5-litre, 163kW V6 powering the front wheels.
There are a number of imported performance wagons on offer
(referred to as 'estates' in Europe) but most don't offer
the high power outputs of the new SS wagon.
And the few that do trump it - the 331kW Audi RS6 estate
as one example - ask you to sleep with the bank manager to
obtain one, what with their $200,000+ price tags.
So in retrospect, the SS wagon at $51,410 represents pretty
good value, and while it doesn't quite come with all
the bells and whistle's of the SS sedan, it is still one helluva
wagon and with only 500 units on offer, it's also a very unique
and exclusive vehicle.
On sale in June, the wagon gets the same sharp and rather
aggressive-looking front apron, complete with central-lower
black cutaway, big fog lights and deeper overhangs. It gets
the side-skirts giving it a more planted look, but at the
rear it doesn't get the same bumper treatment as the SS sedan,
but as a trade-off you get roof racks as standard equipment.
The SS wagon is available in only two colours - black and
red, or Red Hot and Phantom Black as the creative types like
to call them. The red model is teamed with black leather trim,
while the black exterior coloured wagon gets red leather trim.
Apart from the colour-keyed leather trim on the front sports
and rear seats, driver's get a leather-wrapped steering wheel,
alloy pedals, red-coloured instrument cluster, driver, passenger
and side impact airbags, a six disc in-dash CD-player, power
windows front and rear, cruise control, air conditioning and
a cargo blind.
Unlike other more expensive FWD performance wagons, such
as the 184kW Saab 9-5 Aero SportEstate and the 140kW MG ZT-T
190, the SS is a rear-wheel drive proposition offering 235kW
of power @ 5200rpm, up 10kW on the standard 5.7-litre pushrod
V8 from holden, which is liberated via a freer breathing exhaust
Peak torque of 465Nm kicks in @ 4400rpm, and though no official
figures are given, the SS sedan will hit 100km/h from rest
in roughly 6.1 seconds with a manual gearbox, and due to an
increased weight over the sedan, roughly 50kg, the SS wagon
will probably complete the same sprint in about 6.3 seconds,
which would be remarkably quick for a wagon.
The engine can be matched to either a four-speed auto or
six-speed manual gearbox and other mechanicals include (switchable)
traction control, a limited slip differential and a more aggressively
tuned FE2 sports suspension rig, which also reduces ride height.
Unlike the massive 18-inch wheels of the sedan, the SS wagon
gets 17-inch five-spokers, and can only be specified with
other HBD 17-inch rims, which would sugged the 18's simply
don't fit into the wheel arches.
Performance wagons are a very niche market, not just in Australia
but globally, and any marque would be considered brave to
release such a vehicle, so kudos to Holden for offering a
limited run of SS wagons.
With the Gen III V8's well-documented power providing locomotion
and all the fancy bits that make the SS look so good inside
and out, we only have one question: Where's the Ford XR wagon?
Holden Commodore SS wagon: $51,410 (manual and automatic)
Phantom black metallic finish: $255