Let’s talk Utes. Deep within almost every bloke and an awful lot of females is the dark desire to own a ute and the Holden VF SSV Ute is probably near the top of the list for many. Images of B& S Balls, cruising through the outback dirt roads, aerials and massive driving lights, dog in the back, helping your mates move etc. Well the ute I tested this week is far from that.
The new Holden VF SSV Ute is all power and style with a hefty dash of sophistication surprisingly thrown in. I have to say I loved it. Even the awful Fantale Orange colour grew on me over the week and it became very popular with people on the street, especially the younger females. The Holden VF SSV Ute certainly attracted a fair degree of attention, maybe it was the throaty burble of the 6.0L V8 or it was the sporty look or the colour. One thing is for certain it wasn’t the driver.
The VF SSV Ute looks pretty darn good from almost any angle. The front grill with its integrated air dam, daytime running lights and fog lights is impressive. However it isn’t too low that it is impossible to drive comfortably over speed bumps etc.
From side on it has an aggressive forward edgy stance sitting on 19″ × 8″ alloy wheels, 245/40 R19 tyres . The 10 spoke alloys match the overall feel beautifully. A colour coordinated external mirror and shark like air grill in the side of the front fender enhance the aggressive style. From the rear the dual twin exhaust pipes with chrome tips give some clue to the performance that awaits the driver. The black tonneau cover offsets the Fantale Orange of the body.
To enter the SSV Ute you have keyless entry with touch sensibility on both doors. This also allows push button start.
Inside the SSV there are luxury touches specific to the SSV Series. Touches like suede trim on the doors and dash, SS motifs on the back panel between the seats and SSV on the dash, etc. There is also some Kevlar style adornment on the dash and central hub of the steering wheel.
The leather driver’s seat has a manual slide adjustment with electric tilt and lumbar adjustments. The seat back is also manual. There are side bolsters to keep ample butts in place and luckily they aren’t hard as you often sit on them when getting in the car. Very tall drivers may want for some more slide length, however that is always a problem with the confined space in a ute.
In front of the driver is a sports leather clad height and reach adjustable steering wheel that feels pretty good in the hands. The steering wheel houses controls for audio, cruise control and phone settings etc. There is a 4 dial instrument panel, two main dials with two minor dials and a MFD between them.
The centre stack comprises of the My Link Infotainment system with 8inch colour touch screen for satellite navigation. This features Siri Eyes Free integration, USB input, Bluetooth connectivity, DVD player etc. The sound from the 6 speaker stereo in such a small area is spot on. One annoying feature is that the audio needs to be on if you wish to use the Bluetooth connection for your phone. Below the screen are the controls, fairly well laid out and easy to use. Below that again are the controls for the dual zone air conditioning etc.
As always storage in a ute is at a premium. The VF SSV does well in that department though. There are smallish door bins, a very helpful door handle cavity (where I store the key while driving), a handy area below the air conditioning controls for your phone, wallet etc, behind the gear stick is another small area for keys and then the two bottle holders.
If occupied they do get in the way of the transmission, and you find yourself having your arm between the bottles to change gears. In addition there is a decent sized centre console and glove box. The seats will tilt forward to give access to netted storage areas on the rear wall and there is a tidy area behind the seats and under them for smaller bags etc. Oh and a sunglass holder above your head.
There is plenty of head and shoulder room and almost everyone will find a very comfortable driving position to while away the long outback drives. So the interior is good, what is it like to drive.
The Holden VF SSV Ute is powered by Holden’s Gen 4 6.0L V8 that pumps out 270kw @ 5,600rpm and has torque of 530nm @ 4,400rpm. It delivers all this power to the road through a six speed manual transmission that is admirably matched to the power bands. The official fuel economy figures are 11.5 l/100k. We averaged around 13.5 – 14l/100k around town driving normally and down as low as 8l/100k on a trip to Dubbo. It will do 0-100kmh in the blink of a eye and tops out at over 200kmh.
These are the raw figures but the beauty of this powerhouse is in its ease of driving. It will happily doddle around town in 6th gear at 60kmh and still accelerate away. On the trip at 110kmh the tacho was sitting well below 2000rpm and even at well above the speed limit the lazy 6.0L V8 was economical and willing to bolt without hesitation with pressure applied to the right hand pedal.
Yes this is getting close to driving pleasure as it should be. There is nothing like the sound and feeling of a lazy yet powerful 6.0L V8 under your right boot. Give it a boot full and the VF SSV will lift its skirts and run hard. I found myself going for drives just for the fun of it, not necessarily at full tilt, but even plodding along the VF SSV was fun to drive. I would however choose the automatic version though. Not because the manual wasn’t any good, it is in fact very good, smooth and very precise, but as you get older you get lazier and an auto would give me all the pleasure I need without the hassle.
There is however a massive blind spot from the ‘A’ pillar which can swallow whole cars and over the shoulder visibility is also poor, even with the glass inserts.
Handling can be a bit dodgy in un laden utes, but Holden has that sorted. The FE2 suspension is well developed and even though the ute is riding on 40 series profile tyres the ride isn’t too hard. It may feel a few bumps, but for the most part it is comfortable and safe, even when pushed hard.
Safety is a key feature with a 5 star ASNCAP safety rating. The VF SSV ute has Electronic Stability Control (ESC) incorporating: Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Electronic Brake Assist (EBA), Traction Control System (TCS), Automatic Park Assist, Front and Rear Ultrasonic Park Assist, Blind Spot Alert, Reverse Traffic Alert, Automatic release electric park brake, Hill hold control, Hill start assist, Rear View Camera, Dual-stage airbag for driver, Front passenger airbag, Side impact airbags (thorax/pelvis) for driver and front passenger and Front seatbelts with load limiters and pyrotechnic pretensioners.
The VF SSV Ute is a bit of a misnomer. Its part two seat sports car, part utility and all street cool. Yes this has an abundance of street appeal, even if the driver didn’t. It has the looks, performance and handling. While it has its limitations associated with its body style it also has the enormous benefits as well.
I have to admit that I am one of those that just love utes and the VF SSV is near the top of my favourites list. Pity I have to give it back.
What is good:
• Performance and fuel economy balance
• Street appeal
What is not so good:
• ‘A’ pillar blind spot
• Seat travel for tall drivers
• Giving it back to Holden
Model Holden VF SSV Ute
Model Price $47,979 RDAP
Engine 6.0L V8 Gen 4
Drivetrain 2WD with 6 Speed MT
Power 270 Kw @ 5,600 rpm
Torque 530 Nm @ 4,400
Safety 5 Star ANCAP
CO2 Emissions 274 g/km
Green Vehicle Rating 3 Star
Economy (ADR comb) 11.5L/100km
Tow Capacity – 1,800KG
Tow Ball Rating N/A
Servicing $185 per service capped price
Warranty 3yr/100,000km with full roadside assist
Overall OzRoamer Rating 87/100
Behind the Wheel 8
Ride & Handling 8
Fit for Purpose 9
Build Quality 9
Value for Money 9