New car, new badge – SS bumped for VXR

Holden’s fabled SS badge is about to drive into history.
Thursday July 20, 2017

By Richard Bosselman

THE SS badge of sporting courage that has served Commodore since the early 1980s has been shelved alongside the V8 engine it has always associated with.

Holden has announced that the flagship edition of its next Commodore line, an Opel design that carries over nothing save its model name from the Australian hero that ends production in October, will not continue the famous designation.

Instead, it will have the VXR nomenclature that Kiwis already associate with the German brand’s previous generation Insignia as well as the hottest version of the Astra.

The demise of the SS seems logical – the badge has almost always attached to rear-drive V8 product.

The new car could not be more different. It is smaller and lighter than the outgoing VF Commodore and has no technical link.

Opel’s formula for the future packing a 3.6-litre V6 engine whose cited outputs of 235W and 381Nm are well shy of the current V8 SS’ 304kW and 570Nm outputs.

The Opel product also comes with a nine-speed transmission and an adaptive all-wheel drive system boasting torque vectoring technology and a twin-clutch rear differential.

The new performance top dog is the second Insignia VXR for us, though the first was hardly here long enough to be memorable. It launched as a Holden in 2015 as an alternative sports sedan but lasted here less than a year.

The VXR will not officially arrive until next February, along with the sedan, Sportwagon and Sports Tourer body styles that round out the NG range.

However, Holden seems to have been compelled to tell something about it now as result of the car being unofficially revealed by media earlier this week – albeit in the form of the Chinese-spec Buick Regal GS.

Holden has also released other VXR details, including that it carries Brembo brakes, 20-inch alloy wheels and Sachs’ Continuous Damping Control (CDC) dampers. LED matrix headlights as well as heated and ventilated leather sports front seats also feature. The model stands out from lesser variants by virtue of a body kits that includes an extrovert rear spoiler.

The outgoing SS line has been a true celebration of Aussie development skill; the top Redline SS-V is generally heralded by media as not only the best Commodore Holden has ever made, but one of the most accomplished V8 sports sedans of this era.

Somewhat ironically, the main architect of that outgoing car, Holden’s Lead Dynamics Engineer, is quoted in an overnight release extolling the new VXR.

Rob Trubiani, also well known as the bloke who set a sizzling Nurburgring lap record in an SS-V Redline ute, is upbeat about the incoming product.

“The next-gen Commodore VXR offers a different execution of performance to the outgoing SS but make no mistake, this is a more than worthy successor.” 

“We can’t wait to get the car in the hands of our customers next year but for now, we’ve still got some work to do and will continue to work with the team in Europe, who are currently completing chassis development at Nürburgring in Germany.”

The SS badge first appeared on the Commodore with the VH in 1982 and has been the hero V8 Holden ever since (HSV is a different company), but prior to that, it first featured on the 1972 HQ SS, the badge gaining popularity with the launch of the 1976 LX Torana SS.

This was one of only two occasions that the SS badge appeared on something without a V8 in the snout (the other being the VT SS with the supercharged L67 V6). From the VH Commodore onwards, the SS badge was a permanent feature.

Holden’s announcement also came in the wake of top race team Triple Eight relasing a preview of its new V6 turbo engine in action ahead of its debut appearance in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship next year.

The Brisbane-based squad has been busily developing the 3.6 litre V6 turbo power unit which is expected to run in a series of wildcard outings next year before a full rollout in 2019.

The introduction of V6 engines has sparked debate among staunch Supercars supporters with fans fearing the noise of the engines will fall short of the existing V8 engines.

Holden’s announcement also came in the wake of top race team Triple Eight relasing a preview of its new V6 turbo engine in action ahead of its debut appearance in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship next year. The Brisbane-based squad has been busily developing the 3.6 litre V6 turbo power unit which is expected to run in a series of wildcard outings next year before a full rollout in 2019. The introduction of V6 engines has sparked debate among staunch Supercars supporters with fans fearing the noise of the engines will fall short of the existing V8 engines.